First feeding family’s animals, then golf
Normally in sport, if you have talent, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re, or what you look like. But in golf, things are a little different. The wealthy have a far greater chance of competitive success. So when a youngster without privilege plays well enough to have her life changed by the game, it’s that very inspiring.
Her name is Pratima Sherpa. She’s 18 years old and has lived her entire life in a maintenance shed on the fourth hole of Royal Nepal Golf Club in Kathmandu. The teenager is the top-ranked female golfer in Nepal.
Pratima’s parents are laborers at Royal Nepal, each making $60 a month. Although the shed is far from luxurious, it does have one advantage: The proximity to the course gave Pratima all the exposure to the game she needed to begin playing at age 11. One of the teaching professionals Sachin Bhattarai gave her free lessons, and a member donated golf clubs to get her started.
Today, she is a determined teenager with a warm smile, a killer swing and victories in seven of the nine tournaments she has entered last season. Her dream is to become Nepal’s first female tour pro. The maintenance shed in which Pratima and her parents live is filled with golf equipment. A separate room serves as the family’s home. It’s smaller than many Europeans bathrooms. Several feet away is a cabinet bursting with Pratima’s trophies.
Her day begins at 5 in the morning feeding her family’s animals: goats, chickens, a tiny cat and four dogs. The family had five dogs, but one was eaten by a leopard. On most days Sherpa will play nine holes before taking an hour-long bus ride to school, and she still takes a weekly lesson with Bhattarai.
Pratima’s favorite golfer is Tiger Woods. Her favorite food is dal bhat (lentils and rice), and she shares many golfers’ dislike of bunker shots. Perhaps the biggest reason for her success is a tireless worker. She practices every day, no matter what. That includes getting drenched during the monsoon season.
Pratima’s success on the golf course comes at a time of change in Nepal, not just because of a devastating earthquake in 2016, which temporarily turned her home golf course into a refugee camp for 2,000 residents. Opportunities for girls in Nepal have historically been limited. But its government switched from a monarchy to a democratic republic in 2008, ending 240 years of royal rule.
Changes are coming, the next of which might be having the country’s first female tour professional. Pratima knows she’s not just on a quest for herself. If she continues to improve on the course, maybe she could help inspire a whole generation of young girls in Nepal to rise above their economic hardships and realize their dreams.
Do you agree that she could become one of the early birds in our SportyCo nest?