By Enock Muchinjo
GARTH Dale, Zimbabwe’s top amateur golfer, is another product of a family’s commitment to sport, a trend that has put the country on the world map in several sporting disciplines.
The 23-year-old amateur was introduced to golf by his father while still a junior at St Johns College in Harare. He gradually came through the golf development programmes to become one of the most exciting prospects in Zimbabwe golf.
Next week, Dale will team up with fellow young amateurs Nick McDonald and Ryan Lang to represent Zimbabwe at the World Amateur Championships in Puerto Rico.
“It was an amazing feeling when I learnt of my selection to go the World Championships. I hope to do the country proud and further my golf career,” Dale said.
Dale currently leads the Zimbabwe Amateur Golf Association (ZGA) Order of Merit.
The tournament in Puerto Rico will see the world’s best amateur golfers taking part in four rounds of medal play and presents Dale with an opportunity to make an impression on the international scene.
Dale’s biggest achievement on the local scene to date remains his victory in the Zimbabwe Open Amateur division in 2001, when he beat a pool of professionals in a pre-qualifying round played before the main tournament. At the same time, Dale also held the Mashonaland Amateur Championship.
“The Mashonaland Championship was my first win in local competitions. It was very crucial for me that I won as it gave me confidence to enter more tournaments,” he said.
After captaining his school in 1999, Dale went on to make the Zimbabwe junior golf team that toured France for the World Championships. Dale, whose long-drive strokes are his strongest points, was also chosen to represent Zimbabwe at the World Long Drive Championships in Las Vegas, United States, in 2002.
“It was another milestone for me as I managed to reach the quarter-finals and hit a good 380 yards,” Dale said.
He has represented the country in the Africa Zone Six tournament in Namibia this year, and also scooped the All-Africa Championships in Botswana last year.
Dale also revealed his plans to turn professional next year, when he will play on the South African professional golf circuit.
“I will participate in South Africa for a year and move on to the European and American circuit afterwards. But at the moment I want to play more golf here and improve on my putting and chipping, which are the weaker points of my game,” he said.