HomeBusiness DigestTough ’09, but Charamba has Bright Outlook for ’10

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LAST August, Zimbabwean Tongoona Charamba finished in the top three in back-to-back Sunshine Tour events. He placed third in the Suncoast Classic then, two weeks later, was runner-up in the Telekom PGA Pro-Am.

Those results, however, were not indicative of the year he was having. After climbing steadily up the tour’s Order of Merit in his first six years as a professional, Charamba dropped to No. 47 in 2009, 20 spots lower than his 2008 finish.

But Charamba’s troubles on the course were a byproduct of what was happening in his life off the course.
While he was visiting his home for Christmas at the end of 2008, his car was broken into, and he lost his golf bag in the process. Back in South Africa two months later, he was robbed at gunpoint while driving to a tournament.

Despite those two incidents, Charamba was still able to keep his game together and came up with the back-to-back top-threes in the aftermath.

Then came the critical blow. A short time after his August successes, his sister, Nyaradzo, was diagnosed with HIV. She was among five siblings who helped to look after Charamba after his parents divorced when he was three.

“Last year was one of those that I never want to revisit,” said Charamba in an e-mail to 7CsGOLF.com. “It was a test of character. I couldn’t focus. I felt drained as though my world was coming to an end.
“I tried golfing, but it just wasn’t working.”

From September until the end of the 2009 season, a span of 12 tournaments, Charamba missed six cuts and withdrew once. In the five cuts he did make, he didn’t finish higher than 12th.

“I went for counseling and visited a golf psychologist, and that helped a lot,” he said. “By the end of the year, all the pieces started falling into place. I never thought I was struggling; my confidence had just gone very, very low.

“I just couldn’t wait to get out of 2009. With the new mindset, I’ll just keep doing what I did before because my problems were off the course.”

With the trials of 2009 now in his rearview mirror, Charamba should once again become the golfer that has shown much promise since his youth.

He started playing as a teenager in the mid-1990s at the urging of his brother, Tapiwa, who was a caddie at the Police Golf Club near their home in Harare. Charamba became addicted to the game immediately, and, not surprisingly, his career was influenced by the success of countryman Nick Price.

“I remember watching Nick playing in the Zimbabwe Open way back in my career,” he said. “I have yet to see someone hit the ball so straight. He could work the ball, too.

“I’ve always been working my butt off to get to that level. He inspired me a lot with what he’s done for golf and his achievements. It’s my dream and wish to play outside Africa, especially in America because I feel and know I have the game.”

That dream has fallen short of reality on a couple of occasions. Charamba, who turned 28 on Tuesday, was the top junior player in Zimbabwe from 1999-2002 and was offered golf scholarships by American schools, but his family could not afford the fees. — 7CsGolf.com

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