New chal­lenges for tal­ented trio

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Behind The Scenes - By Stu­art McLean, Ed­i­tor

outh Africa ex­ports a lot of its tal­ented peo­ple over­seas, in var­i­ous fields, and it’s quite some co­in­ci­dence that three of the big­gest names in the golf re­sort / golf es­tate in­dus­try have cur­rently moved or are mov­ing to new jobs al­most si­mul­ta­ne­ously in Cal­i­for­nia, Aus­tralia and Mau­ri­tius.

First to leave in Oc­to­ber was Steven Shearer, the new gen­eral man­ager at the Aus­tralian Golf Club, a pri­vate mem­bers club close to the heart of the Syd­ney CBD. Shearer was at Zimbali CC for sev­eral years, and be­fore that at Her­itage in Mau­ri­tius.

In­ter­est­ingly, Shearer got the job at the Aus­tralian over the lo­cal can­di­dates not only be­cause of an im­pres­sive CV in the in­dus­try (which in­cluded work­ing at Sun City), but also through hav­ing both a uni­ver­sity de­gree and out­stand­ing golf­ing skills. Orig­i­nally from the Port El­iz­a­beth Golf Club, he rep­re­sented South Africa at ama­teur level, and is still an ex­cel­lent golfer to­day in his 40s.

Part of his in­ter­view in Syd­ney in­volved play­ing a round of golf with the head hon­chos on the Aus­tralian com­mit­tee. They wanted to see how he good he was in terms of all­round golf­ing knowhow, be­cause hav­ing ex­cel­lent golf­ing skills was im­por­tant for them in the man who was go­ing to man­age their club.

“I man­aged to stiff a few shots close for birdies in the open­ing holes, and af­ter nine holes they told me they had seen enough,” said Shearer, who will be over­see­ing an up­graded Jack Nick­laus de­sign that has been a reg­u­lar Aus­tralian Open host, and will have that cham­pi­onship again in 2017. His suc­ces­sor at Zimbali is Gavin Woodroffe, prised away from the Erin­vale es­tate in Som­er­set West. They are sim­i­lar op­er­a­tions.

Fan­court’s gen­eral man­ager of golf, Lloyd Martin­dale, is head­ing even fur­ther afield than Shearer, to Corde­valle Golf Club in Sil­i­con Val­ley near San Fran­cisco. He starts in De­cem­ber at this lux­ury mem­bers club which has a bou­tique ho­tel on site. It hosted the US Women’s Open this year.

Fan­court and Corde­valle have the same

Sowner, Hasso Plat­tner, and Martin­dale’s ap­point­ment is ev­i­dently very much tied in to his ex­cel­lent per­for­mance over the years at the Ge­orge re­sort. “Mov­ing over­seas is a nat­u­ral step at this stage of my ca­reer in the golf in­dus­try,” says Martin­dale. “Af­ter you’ve reached the top of the tree in South Africa, where else do you go? Fan­court is in many ways a pin­na­cle in this coun­try.” Martin­dale, over the course of the last 15 years, climbed up the lad­der from Gold­fields West to Mac­cau­vlei to Ge­orge GC be­fore grav­i­tat­ing to Fan­court. His suc­ces­sor will be Ryan Reid of Serengeti, a for­mer Sun­shine Tour player and PGA pro.

Prob­a­bly the most en­vied move will be that of Dave Usendorff as golf man­ager to the pres­tige Anahita re­sort in Mau­ri­tius. Usendorff has left a big im­pres­sion build­ing up the golf­ing fa­cil­i­ties and cre­at­ing a fam­ily friendly at­mos­phere at The Els Club Cop­per­leaf in Gaut­eng. He is another Port El­iz­a­beth prod­uct, and like Shearer rep­re­sented East­ern Prov­ince at the In­ter­provin­cial.A third PE con­nec­tion, Rob Sel­ley, is now at Royal Auck­land GC in New Zealand, where he has a ma­jor project ahead of him with a merger of two big clubs, and the con­struc­tion of a new course.

The abil­ity of our top in­dus­try per­form­ers to land big jobs with over­seas clubs is tes­ti­mony to the re­gard in which the rest of the golf­ing world views South Africa, and the qual­i­fi­ca­tions of our man­agers. Our first ma­jor ex­port was Mike Leemhuis, who went from Sun City to run­ning Con­gres­sional GC in Wash­ing­ton, DC. He’s now pres­i­dent of the Ocean Reef Club in Florida. He re­turned home re­cently to speak at the Africa Golf Sum­mit, and his ob­ser­va­tion of South African golf clubs is that our best ones are keep­ing up with over­seas stan­dards and trends. So we can ex­pect more of our tal­ent to be head-hunted in the fu­ture.

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