South Africa is producing some of the best female athletes to date, and we just had to jump in on the greatness! Speaking of greatness, meet Ashleigh Buhai.
“She was the youngest player to win the ladies’ South African Amateur Stroke Play and Match Play double and the first player in 101 years to win the Ladies South African Open title three times” – source
A force to be reckoned with! Not only has she had a successful amateur career, but in August 2022, Buhai won her first major title at the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield, in Scotland.
The Joburg native has been making South Africa proud, and we got to know more about her career, her day-to-day, and what comes next for the pro golfer.
Who is Ashleigh Buhai and how did you get into golf?
My dad got me into golf. He noticed from a young age that I had good hand-eye coordination, I took an interest in any sport that had a ball involved but for some reason, I was always more drawn to golf.
At the age of 6, I was asking my dad to take me to the driving range to practice, and as they say, the rest is history.
You recently won the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield, congrats! How did you prepare for the event and keep your cool when under such pressure?
Thank you! We play 5 Majors a year which are the tournaments every player wants to win the most. You could say it’s a lifetime of preparation but my coach was with me from South Africa at the beginning of the week to prepare.
We come up with a game plan of how to try to play the course to the best of my ability. I loved the look of course from the time I got there.
In terms of keeping cool under the pressure, it’s also many weeks and months of work on the mental side of the game with my sports psychologist. When you are in that moment you are just focusing on the current shot and not focusing on the outcome.
Your career so far has been very successful, what do you do to stay motivated and ‘in the game’?
It sure has been a Journey after 15 years of being a professional golfer, there have been many highs and lows but I feel I am playing the best golf of my career at age 33.
The challenge of trying to improve and win tournaments is what keeps me motivated. I have also surrounded myself with a good team that keeps me motivated.
What is a day in the life like for a pro golfer?
Tournament weeks are busy and you need to manage your time and energy well. Monday is normally a travel day getting from one tournament to the next. Tuesdays I like to have a slow morning/sleep-in, I have physio treatment then head out to the course we are playing that week. I will do about 2 hours of practice then go play a 9 holes practice round.
Wednesday is always a pro-am which is when you play with the sponsors of the tournament it can be 9 of 18 holes and on either side of that I will do some more practice. You will play Thursday and Friday, you need to finish in the top 70 out of 144 players to make the cut to play Saturday and Sunday if you don’t make the weekend you don’t get paid so it really can be tough and expensive if you not playing well.
What is next for Ashleigh Buhai?
I have 6 tournaments left for the year. I will be traveling to South Korea in October to play a tournament then I will travel back to the USA for two tournaments before traveling to Australia for my last tournament of the after.
After that, I am looking forward to finally getting home to South Africa for the festive season.
For future female golfers out there, what advice would you like to impart?
Like anything in life, if you want to be successful you have to work hard but you also need to love and enjoy doing it. It can be a grind but the highs make it all worth it!
Getting to know Ashleigh:
I love live music and going to concerts, mostly rock/alternative. My husband and I also really enjoy being at home having a braai and cooking for our friends and family.
- If I could go back in time and tell myself one thing before starting my career, it would be… I would have found a base for myself in the USA earlier when I started playing on tour. Having somewhere to go on your weeks off to recharge your batteries is so important. I love SA as that’s where our family and friends are but living out of a suitcase for 3 months at a time and then flying back to SA for 2 weeks off is tiring.
- If I had to choose one person, alive or dead, as my inspiration, it would be… Golfing idol Ernie Els is the person I look up to every day, and my Dad.
- My daily mantra is… Enjoy the journey.
Thanks, Ashleigh, and all the best for your future endeavors!
Follow her journey below!