ONE of Zimbabwe’s brightest young golf prospects, Ray Badenhorst is ready to take the next step in his career by turning professional later this year after completing a successful college career in the US.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
Badenhorst completed his four-year stay at Florida Tech University in June last year, finishing not only as the best ever player in the programme’s history, but also earning himself a degree in business administration.
The 22-year-old golfer said although he had briefly sought alternative employment, his ultimate goal was to become a professional golfer and work hard towards realising his goal of playing on the US PGA Tour.
“I am working full-time in logistics at the moment with the goal of being awarded a visa this year, God-willingly,” Badenhorst told NewsDaySport. “Only then will I be able to start playing professional golf, and oh, how I can’t wait to start living the dream we all grew up with on the Chapman and Royal putting greens.”
He added: “A general misconception that parents of most junior golfers hold is that their kids will be able to stay and play pro golf once they graduate. That is far from the case, that little document called a visa becomes the next step that can make or break the four/five years you have spent working hard in the US, so that is what I’m currently working for.”
Badenhorst improved each of his four seasons at Florida Tech, ultimately rounding out the 2015 season with the seventh best scoring average in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II men’s golf at 71,83.
The Banket-bred golfer secured five top-10 finishes in 11 tournaments, including four of the last six he appeared in while completing 62,5% of his rounds at, or below par. It didn’t come as a surprise when Badenhorst was awarded All-American honours by the Golf Coaches’ Association of America in his final season in addition to being bestowed All-South Region honours by the same association.
“Every single one of my achievements meant so much to me because I managed to achieve them against all odds,” he said. “I couldn’t practice as much as I needed to because I had to strike a balance with studies, and when I did practice I had no energy thus making the practice not nearly as beneficial as it should be,” Badenhorst said.
“Sure, I was successful, and maybe the best way to describe my experience at Florida Tech would be to say that my character was deepened over the years, my mental strength was grown beyond what I thought possible and my desire to achieve my goals strengthened the harder the journey got.”
A protégée of Roger Baylis, the veteran local teaching professional, Badenhorst started playing golf when he was 13 years of age at Royal Harare Golf Club.
However, it was only three years later that Badenhorst started taking the sport seriously when Baylis took him under his wing at nearby Chapman Golf Club, which is widely acknowledged as the home of junior golf in Zimbabwe.
Badenhorst’s breakthrough would come in 2010 when he was identified by Florida Tech University golf scouts while playing at Dixie Amateur Golf Tournament which is held annually in Coral Springs, Florida.
“Keep in mind, I never had the money to make it over to the US to play in the Dixie Amateur, it was donated to me by someone. That man’s generosity impacted the entire course of my life, so if there is any advice I can give you let it be this. Let Jesus guide your steps because you are going to need a miracle or two to walk this journey.
“Securing a scholarship in the US was a miracle and that is why I keep on believing God will guide me as I work for my visa and then start off my pro career,” Badenhorst said.