Soweto gets into the swing of things

Af­ter stag­ing the Joburg Open, the coun­try club may soon host fe­male golfers

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

Now that the Soweto Coun­try Club has of­fi­cially been de­clared a venue for the Joburg Open Pro-Am, the Women’s Pro­fes­sional Golf As­so­ci­a­tion (WPGA) has ex­pressed a de­sire for a top women’s tour­na­ment to be staged there in the not too distant fu­ture.

In Fe­bru­ary, it was a mo­ment of pride for one of the coun­try’s oldest cour­ses when the Sun­shine and Euro­pean tours held their first proam at the course, which is sit­u­ated in Pimville. This came af­ter the two­day con­test be­ing played be­fore the Joburg Open was called off be­cause of heavy rain at the Royal Jo­han­nes­burg & Kens­ing­ton Golf Club.

Thanks to the rain, the City of Joburg was able to make the co­sanc­tioned event more in­clu­sive and move it to Soweto.

The Sun­shine Tour and Sun­shine Ladies’ Tour pro­fes­sion­als joined the club’s am­a­teurs, var­i­ous busi­ness lead­ers and gov­ern­ment dig­ni­taries in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Jo­han­nes­burg mayor Herman Mashaba an­nounced that the pro-am would be played in Soweto in fu­ture.

Now the WPGA would also like to have one of its events staged in the town­ship.

WPGA spokesper­son Bar­bara Pes­tana said: “Some of our women played at the pro-am in Soweto. It will there­fore be nice for one of our pro­fes­sional events to be taken there soon.”

Some of the big tour­na­ments played un­der the WPGA ban­ner include the SA Women’s Open, the SA Women’s Masters, the Joburg Ladies’ Open and the Ladies’ Tsh­wane Open.

The Women’s Open took place at the Royal Jo­han­nes­burg & Kens­ing­ton Golf Club from March 5 to 7, while the pro-am was con­tested at the same course two days ear­lier.

“It would be nice if one of th­ese events is played in Soweto. We saw raw tal­ent from golf de­vel­op­ment in Soweto when our play­ers com­peted in the pro-am,” said Pes­tana.

Ntombi Mabuza, a coach from Soweto, is one of the ris­ing stars who came through the de­vel­op­ment ranks in the town­ship.

“It would be great to have a big women’s cham­pi­onship played in Soweto in fu­ture. There is an abun­dance of tal­ented play­ers who are keen to see their hero­ines in ac­tion in Soweto,” said Mabuza.

The club was re­launched by Mashaba last month.

If Soweto can lure big WPGA events, golf lovers can look for­ward to watch­ing top play­ers, in­clud­ing Lee-Anne Pace, Ash­leigh Buhai, Nobuhle Dlamini and Francesca Cu­turi, in ac­tion.

The club­house has also been given a facelift.

Justice Matshaya, the club’s pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer, said: “The greens are in pris­tine con­di­tion and golfers can com­pete well on all 18 holes. It would be good for the town­ship if a top women’s event is staged in Soweto.

“The course has been re­vamped to com­pete with some of the best in the coun­try. The only thing that it still needs is a fence around it.”

Sit­u­ated be­tween El­do­rado Park and Pimville, the Gary Play­erde­signed club was es­tab­lished by black pro­fes­sion­als, in­clud­ing golfers Solly Sepeng, Theo Manyama and Vin­cent Tsha­bal­ala, in 1974.

It had no proper fair­ways and the greens were made of sand.

Golfers from dif­fer­ent unions or as­so­ci­a­tions fought for the use of the fa­cil­ity sim­ply be­cause it was the only one used by black golfers.

The greens are in pris­tine con­di­tion JUSTICE MATSHAYA

PHOTO: WALKER / SUN­SHINE TOUR / GALLO IMAGES PHOTO: ANDY ASTFALCK / NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES

Nobuhle Dlamini is one of the golfers who could com­pete at the Soweto Golf Club Ash­leigh Buhai is one of South Africa’s top golfers

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