Like father, like son
The Manyama name will still be respected in golfing circles after Theo Manyama retires, as the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree
Helen Rowland was not too far wrong when she said: “A man’s desire for a son is usually nothing but the wish to duplicate himself in order that such a remarkable pattern may not be lost to the world.” The father-son pairing of the Manyamas could not illustrate the point better.
They were a memorable feature this week at the Pretoria Country Club in Waterkloof a day before the Tshwane Open teed off on Thursday.
It was no ordinary Wednesday on the fairways – it was golf-officialdom history in the making.
There was a lot of hustle and bustle at the venue, with the organisers putting the final touches to their preparations for the Tshwane Open. But City Press’ attention was not on the people milling around the course; it was on two remarkable gentlemen: Theo and Ludwick Manyama.
Like father, like son. Seeing them joking around like old friends was a heart-warming sight, and there was none of the formality one might have expected. The two could easily have been mistaken for nothing more than close friends who happened to look pretty similar.
They shared jokes casually with those in the rules-office meeting at the clubhouse.
When they drove a club cart through the course to inspect it, they kept on exchanging jokes along the way, like big buddies with equally large frames.
The Manyama surname is establishing itself as a bit of a budding dynasty in the administration of professional golf. The men have become respected rules officials on both local and international golf courses. They are fully fledged tournament directors at the highest level of the game.
Ludwick follows in the footsteps of his famous father, who has been at the helm of the Sunshine Tour tournament as a director for 24 years. The 38-year-old Diepkloof, Sowetobased Manyama junior has served as a tour rules official since 2007.
He was elevated to the more prestigious role of tournament director in December after being an understudy to his father and Gary Todd, the chief tournament director.
The younger Manyama is looking forward to achieving the milestones his 72-year-old father did as an administrator.
Manyama senior has reached a unique milestone for a South African, with a “career grand slam” of his own. He has officiated in all four of golf’s major contests – having worked at 16 US Masters, nine US Opens, 19 consecutive British Open Championships and one PGA Championship.
The veteran will notch up yet another admirable achievement in a glittering career when he officiates at the Rio Olympic Games in Brazil in August. This will the first time that golf will be played as an Olympic sport since 1904, and the South African team will be captained by Gary Player, though the 80-yearold legend will not compete.
Currently leading in the world rankings locally are Olympic hopefuls Branden Grace, at number 11, and Louis Oosthuizen at 20. The final selection of golfing Olympians, which will be based on global rankings, will be made in June. Both South African players stand a good chance of representing the country as a twoman team at the Games.
Manyama senior is looking forward to his assignment at the Olympics, which he describes as a crowning moment.
“This is the pinnacle of my career as an official. Representing your country in the Olympics means a lot. I’m looking forward to making the most of it.”
It is the manner in which the father-son working relationship plays itself out on the course that is most endearing.
The heavily built Ludwick looked busy in the small tournament office at the clubhouse as he rehearsed key points from the rule book to prepare himself for what would be only his second big outing as an official on a European Tour event.
His more experienced father, on the other hand, simply milled around and chatted to his fellow European Tour colleagues.
Ludwick’s first assignment since his promotion was at the Joburg Open at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club last month, where he worked alongside David Williams, the European Tour’s chairperson.
In Pretoria, Ludwick welcomed City Press with a broad smile and drove us on a cart to the number nine and 10 greens, where both he and his father pointed out the holes and pin positions ahead of the four-day showdown in the searing Tshwane heat.
Ludwick, grinning from ear to ear, said: “The feeling of being elevated to tournament director on the co-sanctioned tour is great. I’m looking forward to making the grade internationally, just like Dad has done.”
He explained that the task of being a director entailed the need for a perfect understanding of all the rules and ensuring that all the players conformed to them.
“This is a tough task, because you actually have to monitor the play and ensure no rule is broken.”
The soft-spoken Ludwick, who is also a manager on the Big Easy Tour, a development organ of the Sunshine Tour, believed the “tuition” he got from his father was incomparable.
“I have learnt a lot from my dad regarding the rules of the game. It will be great to make my own mark by perhaps even surpassing him in future and setting my own record of achievements as an official.”
Ludwick’s first involvement on the European Tour as a rules official was at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in Scotland in 2013.
He said the highlight of his career to date was being part of the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational at the Firestone Country Club in Ohio, US, last July, where most of the household names in world golf, including current world number one Jordan Spieth and veteran left-hander and exworld number two Phil Mickelson, took part.
“It was quite encouraging for me to officiate at such an event. I gained experience by interacting with fellow officials globally,” said Ludwick.
A proud Manyama senior had little doubt that his son would make his mark as a topclass official and even surpass him someday.
“Ludwick takes the rules of golf seriously and is passionate about what he does when he is assigned to officiate,” said the veteran.
“He has a bright future and will definitely surpass my achievements in future. I will retire soon.”
Sunshine Tour executive director Selwyn Nathan lauded Manyama junior and said he was thoroughly deserving of his current status on the tour.
“Ludwick has come through the ranks. As the Sunshine Tour, we’re hopeful that he’ll blossom into a world-class official, equal to his dad,” said Nathan.
It is clear that golf runs in the Manyama family’s blood. Like father, like son, indeed.
TOP DOGS Theo Manyama (left), one of the best rules officials in golf, and his son Ludwick inspect the Pretoria Country Club course ahead of the Tshwane Open