• New beginnings

    Ryan Cairns
    Cairns is a magazine columnist

    There’s an overwhelming sense of a new era having arrived in Zimbabwe, which is sure to again become a popular tourist attraction; hopefully even more so.

    Like many Zimbabweans who have been forced to live in the ‘diaspora’, courtesy of a few (very) bad men, I have always kept one eye on our beloved homeland. Hoping and praying the sun would come out again some day.

    That day arrived when Robert Mugabe was deposed. Thousands of people flooded the streets, took selfies with soldiers and danced in a new dawn. While the world was glued to the news, we were celebrating well into the night, as we listened to our loved ones’ previously untold stories being heard for the first time in over two decades.

    There’s an overwhelming sense of a new era having arrived in Zimbabwe, which is sure to again become a popular tourist attraction; hopefully even more so.

    April marked the start of our 2018-19 Sunshine Tour season, as we teed off north of the Limpopo River at the Zanaco Masters in Lusaka, the Zimbabwe Open at Royal Harare and the Zambia Open in the Copperbelt. In the few weeks leading up to these events, I stayed in Harare, laying the foundations of a new franchise store under The Pro Shop umbrella, partnered by my dad and two great family friends.

    In the meantime, a fresh start for just under 200 eligible Sunshine Tour professionals awaits. As always, there will be highs, lows and everything in between in their quest for
    that breakthrough victory, full exemption status or a return to the winner’s circle.

    In early April my travel partner, Allan Versfeld, and I were in Lusaka preparing for the Zanaco Masters opening round. The clubhouse and driving range were abuzz, as they are before the first tee shot is hit at each Tour event – but the start of a new season is different. Thirty rookies had been through the grind to gain a Tour card at the annual Q-School and have their eyes set on a fast start.

    Then there are the ‘last-chance-saloon’ players who have experienced a few hard knocks, untimely lip-outs and other heartbreaks throughout their journeymen careers. But in spite of it all, they have put the job-hunting on hold and made their way to Lusaka for one more shot at their big break. In a field of 144 players at a professional tournament outside the PGA and European Tours, I assure you your ‘best guess’ of most players’ life stories would pale in comparison to their reality.

    From overnighting in cars and taking two-day bus trips to sharing a ‘Wacky Wednesday’ meal and sleeping head-to-toe in a roadside motel, it all happens on the ‘development tours’ each week. It sounds crazy to some, but there is a deep respect out here for the guys willing to put it all on the line, leaving no room for the age-old question, ‘What if …?’

    Based around these revealing truths, I will leave you with an excerpt from a Theodore Roosevelt speech and hope the next time we meet is on your trip to our brand-new Zimbabwe. You would absolutely love it.

    ‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’

    – This article first appeared in the May issue of Compleat Golfer, now on sale

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