Getting in the swing for a bright golfing future
SABELO Majola from KwaMashu, Durban, cannot sleep he’s so excited to be flying on an aeroplane for the first time as well as playing on the same course as the best golfers in the world. He is at Sun City where the Nedbank Golf Challenge is taking place this weekend. Year after year, Majola has watched the challenge on TV and this year he will be there.
“This is my year,” says Majola who plays of f a two-handicap.
“First, I was chosen to represent the Royal Durban Golf Club in the premier provincial scratch league where I won many games and now Sun City.”
Majola is one of four young golfers playing in a four-ball group in the Sports Trust Golf Challenge, the annual fund-raising event on Monday, the day after the final round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge. They were selected by the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) from more than 2 000 development golfers across South Africa.
The four, who are completely hooked on the game and have already won a host of titles, are Crystal Beukes, 16, from Somerset West, Majola, 21, Ignation “Iggy” Douries, 18, from Citrusdal, and Nhlalenhle Dlamini, 19, from Joburg.
“The Sports Trust Golf Challenge of fers amateurs and development golfers the opportunity to compete on the same course as the pros. It is sponsored by Nedbank and Sun International to raise funds to nurture golfing talent from under-resourced communities,” says Tobie Badenhorst, Nedbank head of sponsorships and cause marketing.
After last year’s tour nament, Nedbank chief executive Mike Brown handed over a cheque for R1 million towards the event.
The youngsters are being chaperoned by SAGDB development golf manager in KwaZuluNatal, Joseph Kunene, who has been with the board for 18 years. “I’m looking forward to seeing how the four handle the long, difficult course,” says Kunene, who got into the game as a primary school pupil in Dannhauser, KZN.
“I would caddy on the local course owned by the coal mine and got hooked from the moment that I learnt to swing a club.”
In 1989, Kunene became the first black member of the golf club. He reduced his handicap from 10 and went on to win the club championships for five years running as a scratch golfer, as well as getting his provincial colours.
In 1998, when the mine closed, he joined the KZN Golf Union as the golf development officer. A year later the SAGDB was formed and he became its golf development manager. He talent-scouts and develops golfers from the age of eight to 18 through the SAGDB’s PGA-approved coaching programme. He has four development chapters in KZN, with a total of 258 development players.
Over the past 18 years, the SAGDB has grown its network of coaches and officials across the country to develop the game. “We have chapters in the urban and rural areas of the Boland, Border, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Southern Cape and Western Province,” Kunene says.
“We go to primary schools that are preferably close to a golf course and show all the Grade 2 and 3 pupils how to swing a club. We give them each five balls to hit and invite those who show promise to join our programme.”In addition to golf, the programme is about nurturing life skills such as selfdrive, honest, hard work and commitment.
“Majola is one of my top protégés and he could potentially go pro if he applies himself,” says Kunene.
“He has the talent, as do the others, but it is up to them what they do with it.”
Grade 10 pupil Beukes plays off a two-handicap and matric pupil Dlamini plays off a four. Douries plays off a 12 and has been coached through the South African Disabled Golf Association’s (SAGDA’s) First Swing Programme.
Eight years ago Beukes could not walk – surgery and intensive physiotherapy restored the use of his legs and, since joining the initiative, he has not looked back.
“When I go out there and compete against top able-bodied golfers, I see myself as David knocking out the Goliaths,” says Douries who is hoping to meet Henrik Stenson and his other golf idols.
He will be chaperoned by SADGA national head coach Andrew Corthing, who says: “Iggy is an amazing ambassador for disabled golf and one of our SADGA elite players in the First Swing Programme.
“Since its inception, the SAGDB has coached over 50 000 youngsters,” says SAGDB operations and projects head, André Rossouw.
“Over 1 500 of our players have participated in junior golf tournaments and 34 of our most talented players have been invited to join prestigious high-performance centres such as the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation. Six of our SAGDB players have earned their tour cards on the Sunshine Tour.”
The dream would be to see a South African golfer who has risen through the development ranks winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge one day.
KZN development golf manager Joseph Kunene.
Ignation ‘Iggy’ Douries will be aiming to show his form.
Crystal Beukes, one of the four promising talents.