Pratima Sherpa swings for pro

To Pratima Sherpa, the golf course is home, literally. She was born and raised in a small storage shed on the Royal Nepal Golf Course in Kathmandu.

Growing up, Sherpa watched men dressed smartly in polo shirts and white pants swing shiny golf clubs on the vast grassy course below the airport. She wanted to do the same and so her father, a security guard at the course, crafted a makeshift club for her out of wood and Sherpa spent hours practicing her swing. There has been no looking back.

Sherpa was just finding her footing in Nepal’s golf scene when the Nepali Times first profiled her four years ago. She went on to win national golf competitions and attract the attention of international media like the Los Angeles Times, Golf Digest, and ESPN.

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Sherpa moved to California a year and a half ago and her life there is a world apart from the golf shed behind the third hole in Sinamangal, where her parents still live. In her second year at Santa Barbara City College, Sherpa  attends public speaking, business and math classes, practices golf for three hours, goes to the gym for two hours and does homework before bed. On weekends, she frequents a nearby beach with her friends and host family.


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“Sometimes I have a tournament and a midterm exam on the same day and those days can be very hectic,” she laughed during a recent phone interview with Nepali Times.

When she met him, Sherpa’s idol Tiger Woods advised her to work on her course management. “I still remember him saying ‘Hi Pratima!’ when we first met,” recalls Sherpa. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget that or the fact that he said that my swing was perfect.”

During her meeting with Woods, Sherpa was filming for an ESPN documentary, A Mountain to Climb, which chronicled her journey from the 2017 Qualifying School tournament in Kathmandu to her stay in California, where she is hosted by a couple eager to support her golfing career.

Tanya and Michael Montano had read Oliver Horowitz’s article about Sherpa in Golf Digest in late 2016 and had soon after travelled to Nepal to visit their daughter Sophia, who was in the country for a semester abroad. While in Kathmandu they decided to reach out to the young golfer.

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Sherpa stayed with the Montanos in Santa Barbara, California for two months in 2017 and trained there in preparation for the Q School tournament that would take place back in Kathmandu that September. “They are my family,” Sherpa says of her hosts. “They’ve supported me, loved me and cared for me as much as my own parents have.”

With the help of her host family, Sherpa became the first Nepali to compete in the The Symetra Tour in 2019, a tournament organised by the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). After she finishes college in 2022, Sherpa will be eligible again to compete in the Q School tournament and thereby try for professional status in Nepal. No matter what changes in her life, Sherpa has her eyes set on one goal: to be Nepal’s first female professional golfer.

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