Mandla Junior (MJ) Dlamini. Mandla or MJ as he is known to friends and family, has been aware of what he wanted to do since the age of 14.His has an unwavering love of golf but it is linked to a passion for life on a broad basis. In 2012 Mandla was in Grade 8, away from home and in a boarding school in Pretoria and he realized then just how much he missed playing golf. He says that he felt as if his life had a giant void in it. It was that experience that led him to the conclusion that it was golf that inspired him and motivated him.

Within a few months Mandla’s life changed. He joined #KeNakoAcademy in January 2013 and this move has not only allowed him to follow his passion and pursue a career in golf but it has also been a life changing experience for Mandla.

He is a vibrant individual with a great sense of humour. He enjoys socializing and interacting with others. He is the youngest of three children and shares a tight family bond with his older sisters. Born in Swaziland, he speaks English, French and Siswati. He is driven by the motto “be the best you can be.”

He held a golf club for the first time at the age of 5 and started playing at the age of 7. The first time he competed was in a local tournament at the Royal Swazi Club. He was 10 years old and in high spirits after finishing second.

A career highlight to date was his selection to represent his country, Swaziland, in the Africa Zone VI Golf Tournament earlier this year. Swaziland came second and it is an accomplishment that he is very proud of. His short term goal is to obtain a spot in the Top 50 of South African Amateur Golf rankings. He has now completed his schooling at #RundleCollege so he has a Cambridge International Education to fall back on if he needs it. His plan of action for the next few months is to keep on working at improving and perfecting his game. Mandla will depart the academy and leave the country in August 2017 to attend College in the US. He has received a golf scholarship and while at university he will be studying for his degree in Sport Science.

His dream course is Augusta National Golf Club and who knows –perhaps one day he can become the first Swazi National to compete in the Masters! His favourite local course is the beautiful The Links Golf Course at Fancourt. He enjoys everything about it, the fairways, the greens, the layout, the beautiful scenery and the fact that his golf hero Tiger Woods has played the famous course as well. Tiger Woods has been Mandla’s inspiration and he has enjoyed following his career. Mandla sees him as a truly gifted golfer and admires the way he stayed at the top, the impact he had on the game, how he changed it and how he motivated aspiring young golfers to play the game and pursue their dreams.

His favourite club is his putter – he says it is his most consistent club. Visualisation, a technique the students are taught in mental skills, has assisted him greatly. He believes his competitive advantage lies in his putting, linked to his self-belief and confidence. He is currently a +2 handicap.

“The academy is great. I love the way Rog is. When you’re on the course, you’re on the course. We have a very close relationship with him. He is also like a parent to us. I value his advice and corrections. Carlo is very professional.” He is appreciative of the amount of time both of them invest in his game. “I enjoy the atmosphere, I get to interact with different people, it’s like having brothers. On the course you can be competitive, its good competition. We motivate each other.”

It has been an absolute pleasure having Mandla as a student at #KeNakoAcademy for the last 4 years and we look forward to spending a few more months with him before he heads across the Atlantic Ocean to the USA!

KeNako Academy, Student Profile: Mandla Junior (MJ) Dlamini.