THE MAN WHO GAVE GOLF ITS DISTINCTIVE AFRIKAANS VOCABULARY
The original voice of Afrikaans golf.
Willem van Drimmelen, the man who put “die taal” into golf, has gone to the great commentary booth in the sky. A character, full of passion and love for his fellow human beings and golf, he passed away in Bela Bela a few days before his 73rd birthday. Van Drimmelen had a deep baritone voice ideally suited for television commentary, although in those early days of SABC golfing coverage we sometimes berated him for talking too much and not allowing Denis Hutchinson a word in.
He was a lawyer by profession who was fascinated by the Rules
of Golf. His legacy will be that he coined many of the beautiful words and phrases for “gholf in Afrikaans,” and played a big role in attracting to the game the many young Afrikaans-speakers who have come to dominate South African golf today.
When Van Drimmelen started doing commentary for SABC on the Sunshine Tour, golf was played in English; even Afrikaners talked of a driver and a putter and a green. Van Drimmelen, though, was a purist and insisted that his broadcasts be “suiwer.” His most famous word was “trûtol,” for backspin – and he was often referred to as “Trûtol van Drimmelen.” He came up with wonderfully descriptive words such as “sukkelveld” for rough, “plofhou” for exploding out of a bunker and “soom” for the apron of a green. The one that got him, though, and which led to endless discussions, was “chip.” He eventually settled on “kaphou,” but I never liked it because a chip is not a chop! I suggested once that I liked “rapshou,” but Willem, quick with a naughty quip, shot back. “Nee man, dis wat ŉ ou met ŉ meisie doen!”
He and Hutchie were great together on SABC, but Van Drimmelen wasn’t appreciated as much by SuperSport when they took over the broadcasts.