Meet Golf Player Aberon M. Bauchau

Aberon Michael Bauchau, a golf player from Ethiopia, trains in New York. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Bethelhem T. Negash

Published: Monday, November 2nd, 2015

New York (TADIAS) — The flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to New York is a long one and it gives one passenger, Aberon Michael Bauchau, a chance to consider his mixed emotions. On one hand, the 20-year-old Bauchau is leaving his Ethiopian family and friends and the place where he grew up. On the other hand, he is pursuing his lifelong dream of becoming a professional golfer.

With his family’s support and unmatched hope of finding sponsorships and scholarships, Bauchau landed in New York on May 10th, 2015. Ever since his arrival all he does involves golfing; what he eats, drinks, reads, plays and practices has mainly to do with golfing.

In golf terminology, Bauchau has a handicap score of three. His dream is to lower his handicap score and make a name for himself in the golf world. But for Bauchau, Ethiopia, can no longer cradle his dream with the limited access and resources for the game of golf. It was time to get out of his comfort zone and make his dreams come true.

Bauchau has been looking at his passport for hours now. It is an American passport. He was born in Orange County, California. However, his days of living in California are counted and his memory of it very faint. He has no distinctive recollection of the land he was born in, except images of it he collected from the stories told by his family,and movies and video clips he grew up watching. This is his first visit to the United States of America in eighteen years.

Bauchau didn’t think life in the U.S. would be easy. He is trying to fit in to the American lifestyle, yet still each step has its own challenges and obstacles to tackle down. Living with his aunt in a small apartment in Harlem, he is very much aware of his expenses, which he tries to minimize every chance he gets, even if it means walking over 50 blocks a day to cut the cost of the subway fare. Everyday, he trains by himself at Randall’s Island Golf Center after paying 14 dollars for a bucket of 110 golf balls. He monitors his swings and positions and scores through a video record of his phone. For Bauchau, the various phone applications on his phone are the only coaches and caddies he can afford right now.

It was during a summer trip to South Africa when he was six that he took his first swing to learn the game of golf. A family friend, Haile Ghebreezigabher, an Ethiopian club professional golf player, introduced him to the game. Bauchau, however, didn’t only want an introduction to the game; he wanted golf to be more than a hobby. He wanted a relationship with the game — a lasting one. He didn’t predict the love of this game would make him leave his parents, family and friends behind at one point in time.

What motivates Bauchau to pursue golf including during the weekends and while on vacation from school is the ‘feeling’ that overcomes him when he becomes one with the ball, which mutes the world outside. “When I went to play at St. Andrews in Scotland, I had a real exposure and broad view of the game, its rules and techniques. I fell even deeper in love with the game. Everyone in the tournament came to see me play. I guess it didn’t make sense to them to see an Ethiopian golf player among them.” He takes a long sip from his bottled water and adds, “But I kept my focus on the ball. After all, its all about me and the ball.”

Bauchau says he is often engulfed with nostalgic feelings of family, friends and his life in Addis. Sometimes the loneliness is overwhelming.

“My passport says this is my home. I used to dream a lot about this home of mine” he says, squinting his eyes over the recorded video of his shots for a few seconds and adds, “But when I got here, home wasn’t here.”

About the Author:
Bethelhem T. Negash is a student at Columbia University School of Journalism in New York.

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