One year since going to the United States of America, Serah Khanyereri has recorded tremendous success on and off the course and is confident of achieving her dream of playing in the LPGA, the ladies most competitive and prestigious golf circuit. Serah who is in the US on a golf scholarship courtesy of Africa Golf Programme, formerly Rose Naliaka Academy, has already won two competitions on the college circuit, a move that has seen her formally listed on the World Golf Ranking currently lying in position 3161. She spoke to T-OFF News on her experience in the USA.
How is your experience in the US so far?
My life in the US has been a mixed experience. I am learning about different cultures and how to connect with different people from all over the world. I started school in New Jersey at Raritan Valley Community College (a two-year college) and transferred to a four-year college, St. Thomas University (STU), in Miami. I am studying for a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Sports Administration and would like later to attend law school to study sports law. With a Sports Administration degree I can become an athletic director, sports nutritionist, sports agent or a golf coach as I prepare to become a sports lawyer. It is my dream to represent athletes to prevent them from being taken advantage of and to be an advisor to players entering into contract agreements. I have connected well with my professors and coaches and made many friends both in and outside of golf.
How is your golf schedule?
I play in the St. Thomas University women’s golf team that participates in The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Since this was the first year the St. Thomas “Bobcats” had a women’s golf team, I am fortunate to be one of the first women to play for the school. Our golf season began in late September at the Innisbrook Invitation in Tampa, Florida. We ended our fall season in the State of Georgia at the Jekyll Island Coastal Invitational Golf Tournament. I was the winner in the last two tournaments of our fall season: In Georgia, I finished in first place shooting 75&72 gross. At the Webber Fall Golf Invitational at the Sun & Lakes Golf Course I shot 78 &71 gross.
I am the number one ranked player in the St Thomas women’s team. After my two first place finishes in the college tournaments, the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) ranked me nationally. I am hoping to perform well in the spring tournaments and continue to move up in the WAGR rankings. The NAIA has 2 divisions, compared to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) which has three divisions. .
How was your first experience on the golf course?
In the US, Kenyans are famous for long distance running, not golf. So, I think my teammates and my competitors underestimated my golf abilities. In the first two tournaments I finished in the middle of the pack. Then, in the subsequent two tournaments I finished first. I don’t think anyone expected me to do so well. I am forever grateful to Rose Naliaka for teaching me solid golf fundamentals and for her continued support and encouragement over the years.
How do you rate competition in the US amateur golf?
Golf is very competitive here. In order to finish in the top positions, one really has to shoot in the low 70’s. Girls who are younger than I shoot very low scores. This is a challenge I had to accept when I went for my first tournament, I was surprised how well the girls played, but it didn’t stop me from yearning for the top position.
Though tournaments here are similar to what we have in Kenya, preparation for games is intense and strikingly different. When I am not practicing with my coach/teammates I do lots of cardio exercises to strengthen my core in addition to leg/hip strength exercises. Normally when we train with the team, the coach makes sure you are comfortable hitting all your golf clubs. If he notices a any slight problem, he takes you to the range for personalized training.
What are your chances of going professional?
I feel confident in the way my game is progressing and I am ready for the next challenge. I am hoping at the completion of my degree, I will be able to earn a slot to play on the LPGA tour. Lots of hard work and practice at the range, with the help of coaches and support from friends will help me make it to the LPGA. I have learned to be patient and independent both on the golf course and in life. I have become more consistent than before. These are lessons I hope to share with the younger girls in Kenya who aspire to further their golf careers.
What do you miss most about home?
I miss my mother, family, my friends and the Royal Nairobi Golf Club family. Not forgetting all the people at home who mentored me and helped me develop as a person and a golfer.