Louis Destroo of Stellenbosch Golf Club.
You will find Louis Destroo’s office on the top floor of the clubhouse at Stellenbosch Golf Club. Even here in the heart of the Cape Winelands, the building is high enough from his corner office that you can see Table Mountain in the distance.Without question, the director of golf has one of the best 360 degree views of any person in golf management in the country.
It resembles not so much an office as the bridge of a ship. From his desk, Destroo can look over the first and tenth tees, large tracts of the course, and be in command of his surroundings.
“Being in this office is a big advantage for someone in my position,” says Destroo, who is vice-chairman of the PGA of South Africa.“When I invite clients into my office, and they see the magnificent view, it’s relatively easy from then on to sell a corporate event.” Plus, there’s an outside deck with a braai facility. Inside the office is a bar fridge, and with the leather couch and all the memorabilia around you, it’s more like a den than an office.
Destroo, 40, has been at Stellenbosch Golf Club all his working life, but only recently has he been elevated to the top floor with the general manager, following a major upgrade to the clubhouse. Most of his earlier years were spent downstairs in a dark office connected to the pro shop.
Born and raised in the university town, he studied sports science at Stellenbosch University, but opted for a career in the golf industry when the SA Open came to town in January, 1999.
“I got a job at the club during that Open, and after that began my PGA apprenticeship under club pro Arnold Mentz,” he says. Destroo was a good student. He was named Apprentice of theYear in 2002, having passed the R&A Rules exam at the same time. By 2008 he had become chairman of the Western Province PGA, and the club’s director of golf in 2010.Three years later he was named the PGA Club Pro of the Year, the first person to add that award to Apprentice honours.
Among his memorabilia is a SA Open flag from the 1999 SA Open, signed by champion David Frost, and also by four former World No 1s who competed that week – Ernie Els, Nick Faldo, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam.
Prominent in his office is a gold medal
from the Webster Cup, an event which salutes the career of former Stellenbosch club pro and past PGA chairman Graham Webster. It’s competed for in an annual Ryder Cup type contest between two teams of 12 PGA club professionals from the Inland and Coastal regions.The match was resurrected at Stellenbosch last April, and the home team triumphed under the captaincy of Jeff Clause.
Stellenbosch has evolved into one of the busiest and most successful golf clubs in the Western Cape.The course, ranked No 73 in Golf Digest’s Top 100, is one of the favourites of foreign visitors during the summer months.The last fiscal saw a record 53 000 rounds recorded, and the clubhouse is well supported by members and visitors. On the day I was there, runners were arriving for a trail run around the edges of the property.
Destroo sees his path to the top floor being an inspiration for those youngsters who are good golfers, yet undecided about their futures. “The modern evolution of golf clubs has taken the game forward from the days when clubs were run by a secretary and club pro,” he says. “Golf clubs today are run by highly qualified people, from the greenkeeper up to the manager, who are well rewarded. It shouldn’t always be about playing on the Sunshine Tour. Successful jobs lie elsewhere in the golf industry. I am proof of that.” – STUART McLEAN
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