Resilient SA pros and why you can’t afford not to be custom-fitted
During the Springboks’ nervewracking World Cup semifinal against the All Blacks, an observant cameraman picked out Thomas Aiken in the crowd, anxiously following the action with his wife Kate beside him.
A week earlier A B de Villiers posted a video on Twitter of the Proteas celebrating Fourie du Preez’s match-winning try against Wales from a hotel in India the night before their series-deciding One Day International clash (which they won convincingly). Professional South African sportsmen and women are fierce patriots and they use social media to offer support and celebrate success with their fellow athletes.
It made me think about how pro golfers’ lives are different from their compatriots in team sports.We watch SA golfers on TV every week on the PGA and European tours but are seldom reminded that they are independent contractors who pay their own way – for every expense incurred – every week. And unlike rugby, cricket and soccer players who have fixed contracts, if golfers have a bad week, or worse, a bad month, they don’t get paid. Our golfers travel huge distances, make homes away from home and endure what is essentially a lonely profession.They don’t have the benefits of team spirit and camaraderie to fill the time away from competition.
In this month’s Think Young/Play Hard interview on page 34, Tyrone van Aswegen gives insight to life on the PGA Tour. The 33-year-old spoke to us a week after securing his 2015-16 card via theWeb.Com Tour Finals for the third consecutive season. Now an American citizen – but still a proud South African with dual citizenship – Van Aswegen had a disappointing year until the Web.Com Finals, but played well enough when it mattered most to regain his card.
A week after the interview, he finished third at the Frys.Com Open, the first event of the new season, earning $312 000, almost double what he made last season. On the morning of the final round in Northern California he was hospitalised for vertigo and dehydration, but recovered in time to shoot 68 for his best ever PGA Tour finish. South Africans really are a hardy bunch.
We have 10 South Africans holding PGA Tour cards for 2016, the most ever. Van Aswegen joins Thomas Aiken, Tim Clark, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Branden Grace, Louis Oosthuien, Rory Sabbatini, Charl Schwartzel and Dawie van der Walt in flying our flag stateside.
If you haven’t been custom-fit for your equipment, you are missing out on the easiest way to improve your golf. A common misconception is that club-fitting is only for tour pros or better players, but in this game one size does not fit all, and with several club-fitting services in major centres around the country there really isn’t an excuse for you not to build a set of clubs that matches your swing and ball speed, spin rates, and putting stroke. Master clubfitter Steve Cottingham, the head professional at Mount Edgecombe in KZN sums it up best:“Talented players can make an ill-fitted set work, but the average player doesn’t do that well. It just makes the game harder.”
In compiling our eight-page feature (starting on page 42) Editor Stuart McLean went through the full fitment process with TrackMan radar technology from driver to putter with Srixon Sports at the World of Golf in Gauteng, and then watched SA’s top female amateur, 16-year-old Ivanna Samu, go through the same routine with some impressive hitting.
I’m guilty of limiting my improvement possibilities too. Having been custom-fit for a set of irons in 2007 I naively thought they were still ‘relevant’ today. I tried a new set in February and was instantly a club longer with a 2015 model, and that was before any fitting took place. For starters you can embrace modern (golf) technology by turning to page 49 where we’ve listed the best facilities in SA where you can improve your game in an instant.