Cal State LA women’s golfer Pratima Sherpa is changing the game in her home country of Nepal.
Sherpa organized Nepal’s first all-women’s golf tournament this summer, held at the Royal Nepal Golf Club in the capital city of Kathmandu. The Women’s Open Golf Tournament on July 2 featured 47 women golfers and honored Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari, who awarded the prizes to the tournament’s champions.
“It was like a dream,” Sherpa said of hosting the tournament and Bhandari. “It was my dream come true.”
Sherpa has so far excelled in the classroom and shined on the course at Cal State LA. In 2021-22, she finished as high as seventh in a single tournament and turned in a 75-stroke round at the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships, helping the Golden Eagles to their best-ever finish at a conference tournament in a record-setting season.
Using the skills and confidence she’s building as a collegiate athlete at Cal State LA, Sherpa is determined to expand opportunities for women in her country to participate in a sport predominantly dominated by wealthy men.
The summer golf tournament at Royal Nepal Golf Club reflected how far Sherpa has come.
Growing up, she lived in a maintenance shed with her parents behind the golf course’s third green. When she was 11, Sherpa’s father fashioned her a wooden golf club from a tree branch. After hitting balls around the course with the wooden club, members of the Royal Nepal Golf Club gifted Sherpa a bag of mixed clubs. Three months later, she played in and won her first ever tournament.
By the time she was 17, Sherpa had gone on to win 33 tournaments, including two junior international events. Now, at 22 years old, Sherpa is Nepal’s top women’s golfer and is poised to start her second season with the Golden Eagles at Cal State LA.
Sherpa had often dreamed of putting together a women’s tournament in Nepal, but it wasn’t until April on a video call with friend Arshiya Banu that the planning began to take shape. The pair sketched out their plans remotely and set a date for when Sherpa would return home to Nepal. When she returned home, Sherpa quickly recruited another friend, Sareet Shri Gyawali, and they hit the ground running to prepare the event.
During the tournament, Sherpa shared stories of growing up at the Royal Nepal Golf Club, her experiences playing the sport, and how her parents met at the golf club years ago.
Having her parents in the crowd, as she addressed the tournament’s guests, including Nepal’s first woman president, made the moment even more special for Sherpa.
“I was so proud to show everyone that it’s possible to help women’s golfers,” Sherpa said.
Cal State LA women’s golf head coach Hans Kersting praised Sherpa’s coachability, raw skill and dedication to constant improvement, but her character is what the Golden Eagles coach said sets her apart.
“Even if things aren’t going well for her, she just supports everybody,” Kersting said. “She’s a remarkable person, she’s a great representative for our school, but she’s also just an ideal teammate.”
As she looks forward to her senior year at Cal State LA, Sherpa is excited to return to her studies, her teammates, and to her goals on the golf course.
After working hard at her 70- and 80-yard shots, the golfer said she is aiming for consistent sub-75 rounds throughout the season.
But as she works toward her goals on campus, Sherpa never stops her efforts to advance golf opportunities for women in Nepal.
Sherpa communicates with players and coaches more than 7,800 miles away, often texting and using social media to share new skills she’s learned with the Golden Eagles.
And as she improves her game with Cal State LA, Sherpa has set her sights on the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, where she and other women’s golfers will represent Nepal for the first time on an international stage.
Hosting the first-of-its-kind tournament this summer fulfilled a long-held dream for Sherpa. But she’s just getting started trailblazing a path for Nepalese women golfers.
“After this, I feel like nothing is impossible,” she said.
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