HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – Nyasha Mauchaza started playing golf “by total accident.” As an 11-year-old growing up in Zimbabwe, his mom was introduced to the game by a pharmacist friend who was “crazy about golf.”
Mauchaza’s mom dragged him along, and Nyasha (who goes by Nash) got the golf bug pretty quickly. He had played many other sports, but suddenly he wanted to spend the majority of his time at the golf course.
When Mauchaza was 17, his dad won the Green Card lottery and the family moved to Philadelphia. He enrolled at the IMG Golf Academy, played college golf at Towson University and then turned professional in 2011.
Working his way up the ranks of professional golf has been a process, but Mauchaza has stuck to it and will achieve another milestone at this week’s Nova Scotia Open: he’ll make his first start in a Web.com Tour event.
“It’s fun to be out here,” said Mauchaza, who played last week’s Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada event in Alberta before catching a red-eye to Halifax. “I enjoy the game. I just want to make the most of everything and have fun out there.”
The list of Zimbabweans who have thrived in pro golf is rather short, but it starts with a Hall of Famer, Nick Price.
Mauchaza met Price for the first time just a few weeks ago. Both live in south Florida (Mauchaza in Port St. Lucie; Price in Hobe Sound), and Mauchaza has lived there since 2011, but he didn’t realize how close he lived to Price until recently.
Mauchaza, 27, knew that it might be hard to get in touch with Price – “I’m sure a lot of people want to get a hold of him” – but he found a way.
“I did some research and digging,” said Mauchaza. “I somehow got lucky to find a friend that knew a friend who knew another friend, and they reached out with his contact info. I was kind of like a private eye.”
Price has seen some of Mauchaza’s results from Florida events, and he extended an invitation to play a round at McArthur Golf Club in Hobe Sound.
Price shared stories with Mauchaza throughout the round, and Mauchaza soaked up advice on course management, inner confidence and most importantly, grinding out a score on a tough day – “that’s the difference, making a 73 a 69 somehow.”
Mauchaza remembers being 16 years old and holding a Nick Price trophy at a junior event in Zimbabwe, making the day even more memorable.
“Somebody that has gotten to the highest point you can get to,” said Mauchaza. “It’s really hard in that position because you’re like, ‘I want to ask the right question,’ and it’s like, ‘Which question is it?’
“I hope I can keep playing well so I can forge some sort of stronger relationship with him and learn more about what it takes to get where I’m trying to get to.”
He’s trying to get to the PGA TOUR, a process that can take some time. Mauchaza came up short at Q-School his first few years out of college, and without the financial wherewithal to travel cross-country for Monday qualifiers, he spent the majority of his time in Port St. Lucie – where he found more affordable housing compared to other areas of south Florida – and began honing his game at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance.
He played various smaller events around south Florida, comparing the past few years to an internship experience.
“I didn’t have a backer, so I couldn’t play four-round tournaments,” said Mauchaza. “Playing one-day or two-day events, trying to go low. I had to be really smart with any money I had, spending most of my time working on my game, trying to develop the whole package.”
Mauchaza saved some money from a previous job at a hole-in-one insurance company, but his primary sponsor has been his dad, who now lives in the Turks and Caicos Islands and works as a general surgeon.
His mom moved back to Zimbabwe and now teaches medicine at the University of Zimbabwe (she’s an anesthesiologist).
“It’s not cheap,” said Mauchaza of pursuing his professional golf dreams. “I have my father to thank for that, for sure.”
Mauchaza’s breakthrough came at last year’s Web.com Tour Qualifying Tournament, where he advanced to Final Stage and fared well enough to earn status on PGA TOUR Canada, where he has finished T31 and T17 in his first two starts this season.
His conditional number wasn’t enough to get into any Web.com Tour events prior to this week, but when he checked the Nova Scotia Open field list from Fort McMurray, Alberta, last Friday, he saw that he was first alternate.
Still first alternate when he completed his final round at The Syncrude Boreal Open (where he played with winner Kevin Spooner, who shot 63 to force a playoff from nine back), Mauchaza headed to the Fort McMurray airport for a quick flight to Edmonton. Then, a four-hour flight to Halifax, where he arrived at 7 a.m. Monday morning.
Mauchaza checked the updated field upon his arrival in Halifax, saw he had moved down to fifth alternate, then got to his hotel and took a nap. When he woke up, he was in the field.
“At that point, being in Canada, I had to make the trip over because you just never know,” said Mauchaza. “It’s good to be here.”
When he was 16 years old, Mauchaza traveled from Zimbabwe to Miami for the Junior Orange Bowl. He didn’t fare too well, saying he “got lapped,” but found immense value in the experience.
“I didn’t play that well, but it was good to get more competitive outside Zimbabwe and see other juniors and how they played,” said Mauchaza. “To measure myself up, not live in a bubble, and see what’s out there. That was really, really good for me.”
Now making his first start on the Web.com Tour, Mauchaza is far removed from the bubble.