Life for Drexel golfer Tafadzwa Nyamukondiwa has always been about “chasing the dream.” But it hasn’t been easy for the native of Zimbabwe. The junior credits his faith and his family for leading him through every obstacle in his journey to the United States.
He came to the U.S. from Harare, Zimbabwe, in 2018, pursuing not only his own dream of playing collegiate golf here but his father’s as well.
“My father had a vision of wanting me to come to the United States for school and that’s the goal he has always had,” Nyamukondiwa said. “He gave me pretty much everything, so I didn’t have an excuse for not making it.”
His father, Tawanda Nyamukondiwa, sacrificed some of his own personal goals to put his children in a better position. Because of finances, instead of going back to school himself, he chose to support his son in his journey.
“I give him all the respect,” Nyamukondiwa said. “He sacrificed so much time working, just trying to get the finances he needed to put me through golf and support my family.
“Back in Zimbabwe, we travel around to play in tournaments and he put so much money into equipment, into coaching, and into golf clothing. My dad really works hard, and he invested so much in me. At the time I didn’t get to see it because I just thought he wanted me to get away from home and not watch TV.”
All of that hard work has paid off. Nyamukondiwa was Colonial Athletic Association golfer of the week on April 16 and followed that up with a third-place finish at the CAA Championships on April 26. On May 2-4, he played in the PGA WORKS Collegiate Championships at Philadelphia’s Union League Golf Club, where he shot 10-over-par 224 in three rounds.
Nyamukondiwa started playing golf at 11 years old and was labeled a child prodigy in local newspapers. He represented the Zimbabwean Junior Golf Team in Japan in the Junior World Cup and was an all-conference selection at Western Texas, a junior college in Snyder, Texas, before moving on to Drexel.
“With Drexel, I know I’m very different from everyone else here,” Nyamukondiwa said. “We all have the same vision and goal, but we all come from different backgrounds. So it’s about knowing where you come from, what you are working toward, and I’m also just trying to adapt to the new lifestyle without forgetting who I really am and where I came from. I’m keeping my roots strong.”
It was a tough transition from Zimbabwe to Philadelphia for Nyamukondiwa. He went two years without seeing his family before visiting them last summer.
“Nyamukondiwa is mature beyond his years,” said Drexel golf coach Ben Feld. “He made the conscious decision to leave his family on another continent and come over here. He has a different maturity to him than other college kids. He embodies the phrase ‘dream big, expect nothing.’”
While he’s away from family, Nyamukondiwa’s faith keeps him dreaming big.
“My faith has been the biggest part of me,” Nyamukondiwa said. “I grew up in a Christian family and I went to a state where I started putting more effort in learning on my own, and I began finding my own beliefs as well. That has helped me be who I am up to this stage and that has helped me through my journey at this time.”