Sun­shine Tour’s new vi­sion for de­vel­op­ment.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - By michael vlis­mas

Soweto Coun­try Club is un­der­go­ing its most ex­ten­sive up­grade to date as part of the Sun­shine Tour’s drive to find a more holis­tic so­lu­tion to the de­vel­op­ment of South Africa’s pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged golfers.

The Tour’s new de­vel­op­ment fo­cus has high­lighted a need to tackle golf de­vel­op­ment as a so­cial is­sue, elim­i­nat­ing the ob­sta­cles pre­vent­ing tal­ented golfers from pro­gress­ing through the pro­fes­sional ranks.

At a purely golf level, this has seen the launch of the Gary Player Class of 2017 which has iden­ti­fied 30 pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged pro­fes­sion­als who are be­ing given free ac­cess to prac­tice fa­cil­i­ties, nu­tri­tion and fit­ness ad­vice, coach­ing, men­tal train­ing, and fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to travel to and play in tour­na­ments on the Sun­shine Tour, IGT Tour, Big Easy Tour or MENA Tour.

The up­grade of Soweto CC is be­ing done in part­ner­ship with the City of Johannesburg, In­vestec Prop­erty, SAIL Rights Com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion, Gaut­eng Pro­vin­cial Gov­ern­ment and Bent el As­so­ciates In­ter­na­tional. Funds were also do­nated from the Gary Player Golf Day hosted at the club, and in­di­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions from Larry Nes­tadt, Greg Co­hen, Solly Kramer, Sam Hack­ner and Robin Magid.

The up­grade was tar­geted as a key step in the Sun­shine Tour’s de­vel­op­ment ini­tia­tive as it re­mains an im­por­tant fa­cil­ity for a com­mu­nity with a his­tory of pro­duc­ing tal­ented golfers from a pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged back­ground.

“There is an ex­cit­ing youth golf move­ment tak­ing place in Soweto,” says Sel­wyn Nathan, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Sun­shine Tour. “We need to give these young­sters a fa­cil­ity they can be proud of, one which con­tin­ues the great his­tory of this club and its leg­ends such as Cox Nh­lapho, Vincent Tsha­bal­ala, Theo Manyama, Der­rick Lekomo, Nor­man Mashaba, Solly Oliphant and oth­ers.”

Un­der Phase 1, the club­house is be­ing up­graded as part of the goal to make the fa­cil­ity a com­mu­nity as­set be­yond just the golf course. Golfers will have ac­cess to a new 400-square me­tre prac­tice area in front of the club­house and a syn­thetic prac­tice put­ting green with var­i­ous tiers and lev­els and a bunker in­stalled by South­west Put­ting Greens (SWG). Phase 2 is the erec­tion of pal­isade fenc­ing around the prop­erty, and Phase 3 will in­cor­po­rate a re­design of the course by Gary Player.

For Nathan, this up­grade is a means of mak­ing sure the club ben­e­fits the en­tire com­mu­nity – from be­ing able to host busi­ness con­fer­ences to its core pur­pose of be­ing a vi­able golf club for Soweto’s promis­ing young golfers and ris­ing pro­fes­sion­als. “When we launched the Gary Player Class of 2017 I made it clear that this is a so­cial pro­gramme, not a de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme,” he says. “We have been through many evo­lu­tions of golf de­vel­op­ment and now we have a work­able so­lu­tion to ef­fec­tive de­vel­op­ment at all lev­els, from the ex­cel­lent work done by the Golf De­vel­op­ment Board through to our pro­fes­sional struc­tures. Up­grad­ing Soweto CC is an­other key step in this process.

“From a Sun­shine Tour per­spec­tive we want to cre­ate a sit­u­a­tion where a pre­vi­ously dis­ad­van­taged pro­fes­sional can at least have the same start to his ca­reer as a more priv­i­leged pro­fes­sional.We want a black pro­fes­sional to be able to stand on the tee in one of our big sum­mer tour­na­ments and feel he can win be­cause he’s at least had the same op­por­tu­ni­ties as the man stand­ing next to him.”

Gary Player in­ter­acts with mem­bers of the Class of 2017.

A new look awaits Soweto Coun­try Club.

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