When the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) Malawi was formed in 2018, doubts lingered about its sustainability considering that the sport is expensive.
The first registered professionals were Paul Chidale, Victor Kachepatsonga, Adam Sailesi, Partridge Shycal, Dingaan Chirwa and Kondwani Mphula.
Barely a year later, Malawi took a giant step in professional golf at continental level when local golf ace Chidale defied the odds to finish third at the Tanzania Open in Arusha last November.
Chidale posted an outstanding level par gross 72 to earn himself bronze after registering 79 and 76 on the first two days. His compatriot Sailesi also made a cut at the same tournament.
Kenyan Dismas (70, 73, 78) emerged the winner followed by his compatriot Justice Madoya (78, 74, 74).
After the tournament, Chidale said: “My target was to win the tournament, but I was betrayed by a poor start. Nevertheless, finishing third wasn’t that bad.
“I will not relax, but work even harder to put mother Malawi on the map.”
PGA Malawi president Shycal described Chidale’s feat as a first step “towards greater things”.
Prior to the Tanzania Open, Chidale made cuts at four other tours, including Kenyan Safari Tour and NAC Tournament in Zimbabwe.
Locally, he dominated all competitions run by the Golf Union of Malawi, winning the TNM Malawi Open, Airtel Malawi Open and Seed-Co Malawi Open, among others.
In the Seed-Co Malawi Open held in November at Lilongwe Golf Club, Chidale registered his best score of -1 (135 gross) to outclass 15 contestants, including 10 Zimbabweans.
The inaugural 2018 Malawi Warm Heart Pro Tour champion TranosMuradzikwa was his runner-up.
Speaking on his rise, Chidale attributed it to hard work.
“I am always working hard to improve my golf. Through participating in various regional tournaments, I learn more and apply it to my game.
“With necessary support, the future looks bright and I am looking forward to winning honours in major tournaments.
“The leadership of PGA Malawi has always been there for me—knocking on doors to woo financial support. I don’t take it for granted,” he said.
They say hardwork pays and it sure does for Chidale as he now eyes the prestigious European Tour.
The golfer is currently in Kenya, taking part in three tours as part of the qualification test for the European Tour scheduled for March.
Kenya allocates three slots to best African players and so far, Chidale is ranked fifth and he needs to perform well for him to make the grade.
Golf is a money game, but because of his exceptional talent, Chidale is enjoying support from Malawian Airlines which sponsors his return air tickets to international tournaments.
“We pay tribute to our untiring supporter, our true partner, Malawian Airlines. This partner has always given us the much crucial assistance of flight tickets for our players to participate in these regional tours. These are the fruits of their labour.
“We are wholly indebted to management and staff of Malawian Airlines for all the support they have accorded us,” said Shycal.
He believes the country is yet to see the best from Chidale.
“He is improving his game with every competition and I have no doubt that he will one day win a major tour. He is very focused and disciplined. He just needs financial support so that he can take part in all tours,” said Shycal.
“My appeal is for companies to come in and support our local golfers. There is so much potential in Malawi. We have golfers like Adam Sailesi, Victor Kachepatsonga and now Chris Mzokomera who can represent the country well. All they need is financial support.”