Young Ladies chipping over the pond

We had the opportunity to meet two young ladies who have fallen in love with the sport of golf at a late age in their lives and through their ambitions and drive are going to continue playing and following their dreams, whilst still ensuring they have a back-up plan by attending university overseas.

Let’s meet present BSI Academy golfers Tylah James and Yaone Mokgatle who have set their sights on studying in the USA.

1. How old are you and where are you originally from?

YM: I am 19 years old and from Botswana.
TJ: I’m 19 years old and I am from South Africa

2. What High School/s did you attend?

YM: At age 13, I did a year of boarding in South Africa before I moved back home to Botswana where I continued my studies at a learning centre for 3 years. For my final year of high school, I moved back to South Africa with my family and attended Balderstone Sports Institute’s Junior Academy where I completed my matric.
TJ: Stonehill International School – Bangalore, India & Balderstone Sports Institute Junior Golf Academy – Johannesburg, South Africa.

3. Since matriculating, what have you been doing?

YM: Right now I’m working on my golf through the BSI Elite program and preparing to go to school in the fall in North America.
TJ: I’m currently part of the BSI Elite Program, which I will be part of until I leave for the USA in August.

4. What inspired you to start playing and how old were you when you started playing golf?

YM: I was 16 when I started and I would say my younger brothers inspired me to play.
They started before me and I would sometimes go watch them practice, which ultimately hooked me into the game and inspired me to try it out.
TJ: I started playing golf when I was 15 years old in India, when my dad introduced me to the game at the start of COVID.

5. Who has been the motivation and driving force to better your game and ensure that you stay on track to achieving your goals as a golfer?

YM: My brother Thomo has always motivated me to be a better player and I’ve always strived to get to the high level that he constantly pushes himself to. The coaching team at BSI have also been instrumental in ensuring my golf game is improving from coaches Karl Lehmacher, Chris Wright and Tyrone Gibb, to their Sports Scientist Renée Gomes da Silva and mental coach Mark Fairbank.
TJ: The person who pushed me the most in my game is my coach at BSI, Tyrone Gibb. He’s always there for me, whether it’s regarding my golf swing or anything I’m struggling with emotionally. He’s always there to increase my confidence, which has shown in how much I’ve progressed thus far. Another motivator is playing the BSI medal competitions and competing with the boys, with the majority being much better than me, and getting to compete with them really pushes me to be a more aggressive player and to take more risks and be creative in my game.

6. Who is your favourite golfer & why?

YM: I really like Brooks Koepka, I think he is the coolest, and watching him play is always exciting for me, and of course, I have to mention Tiger Woods because he’s truly USA’s national treasure and icon to many in this sport.
TJ: One of my favourite golfers is South African, Nicole Garcia. Her story of starting golf at a late age of 15 years old, like myself, really resonates with me and inspires me to reach her level.

7. What so far is your greatest achievement in golf and what is your dream as a golfer?

YM: Representing my country in the 2022 and 2023 All Africa Junior Championships and then getting into university in the USA to go play college golf.
My goal as a female golfer is to push myself and see just how good I can get.
TJ: My greatest achievement in golf, so far, is definitely when I got the opportunity to represent South Africa this year in the Zimbabwe Junior Open and placing 6th.

8. What was the decision to take your golfing ambitions overseas?

YM: It has always been the goal and dream for me to go study abroad, so to be able to do it is the greatest most exciting thing ever.
TJ: Education has always been a priority, so being able to attain a degree internationally as well as compete competitively has always intrigued me and been a goal of mine.

9. Where will you be studying in America and what will you be studying?

YM: I’ll be studying at Corban University in Oregon, USA and have applied to study Sports Journalism.
TJ: I’ll be studying in Dalton State College in Georgia and will be enrolled for a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management program.

10. Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years from now?

YM: Five years from now I’d love to see myself competing at a much higher level than today and would love to be on tour or working towards getting on tour.
TJ: My biggest goal is to turn Pro and be on tour in 5 years on the Ladies circuit.

11. What woman inspires you and why?

YM: My mom is definitely the woman who inspires me the most. She has worked so hard to give my siblings and I the opportunity to do what we love to do, no matter what the cost. Moreover, she’s always working hard to make sure we are happy and I couldn’t be more encouraged by her dedication. My mom is truly the best role model and the most inspiring woman in my life.
TJ: My mom, because as much as she’s not a golfer, she completely dominates in her work field. Her achievements in work have allowed our family to travel and get to experience places like India and Malaysia.