Johannesburg - The best congratulatory message Nobuhle Dlamini received after her breakthrough victory in last week’s SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International was from her sister.
“Finally!” her sister said.
Dlamini laughs at this because only a sister could get away with such a direct response to what has been a long and, at times, frustrating journey to her maiden title as a professional golfer.
Since turning professional in 2014, the Swazi star had 16 top-10s on the Sunshine Ladies Tour before making her breakthrough at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club last week.
As an amateur, she was a dominant force in the game. When she was 17, she won the Sanlam South African Women’s Amateur at Royal Cape in 2009 and became the first black golfer to win this title in its 103-year history.
She won the Sanlam South African Women’s Amateur Stoke Play title by a crushing 12 strokes at the Pretoria Country Club in 2013, amid a string of national titles that led to second place on the world amateur rankings.
The pedigree was there, but last week she did something different – she didn’t try so hard.
“I’ve been hitting the ball for a very long time and I was just waiting for a break. But I also told myself not to try to force it. I focused on letting the winning come through the process. As a result, I was much more relaxed,” Dlamini said at this week’s Investec South African Women’s Open, which was co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour.
“My mistake when I turned pro was that I tried to change and get my game perfect. But you are not perfect. My advice to any amateur out there would be to not try to change too much. As an amateur, you get to where you are because it works, so don’t change when you turn pro.”
Dlamini’s victory on the Sunshine Ladies Tour is another endorsement of this tour’s ability to play a key role in the development of Africa’s female professionals.
The season-ending Investec tournament had a R2 million purse, with more than R300 000 for the winner, playing privileges on the Ladies European Tour, a place in the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship.
Dlamini was well aware of the perks when she arrived in Cape Town for the tournament, and she stepped off the plane with a different focus.
“After my first pro win, I feel like a better player. It’s exciting and I feel like I belong on tour now. I feel like I’m not just playing to make the cut, I’m playing to win.”