Golf com­ing up short when it comes to be­ing a game for all

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - MIKE DE BRUYN

EN­VER HASSEN, the pres­i­dent of the South African Golf As­so­ci­a­tion, says the sport has still some way to go be­fore it be­comes truly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of an en­tire peo­ple.

“We have in the re­gion of 160,000 af­fil­i­ated mem­bers of which five per­cent are play­ers of colour. Women make up 20,000, 450 are dis­abled and 4,000 are ju­niors. Golf, I’m hop­ing, will one day be truly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of its peo­ple.

“The sport of­fers many things, such as be­ing a life­long sport; it teaches peo­ple the mean­ing of a good value sys­tem and is an in­spi­ra­tional sport and some­thing to look for­ward to for all ages,” said Hassen.

In his fi­nal year at the helm, Hassen also be­lieves there are sub­tle forms of racism be­ing prac­tised at some clubs.

“I of­ten get calls of un­pleas­ant­ness be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced by play­ers of colour who of­ten then walk away from the game for good. Iso­lated, maybe, but cer­tainly un­ac­cept­able.

“In terms of change, golf is still rigid in its ap­proach at all lev­els,” he said. “Change, al­though un­com­fort­able for some, needs to hap­pen for the sport to progress.”

Hassen added it was dif­fi­cult to im­ple­ment a new vi­sion as Pres­i­dent be­cause un­der cur­rent rules pres­i­dents are al­lowed a max­i­mum two-year term only.

”But there has been progress in some quar­ters, says Hassen. “Golf de­vel­op­ment at ju­nior level is on the up and this is pleas­ing,” he said.

“I’m pleased to say that the West­ern Cape are fron­trun­ners in this re­gard, with a ju­nior golf foun­da­tion in place un­earthing tal­ent from all quar­ters. This is the fu­ture of our sport.

“There is so much un­tapped tal­ent yet to be un­earthed. Our ten­ta­cles are now beginning to reach ar­eas where they haven’t been be­fore. We’ve al­ready found some hugely promis­ing youngsters in our ranks with big fu­tures ahead of them who’ve gone on to rep­re­sent SA at se­nior am­a­teur level. It makes me very proud.

“But we do need more golf cour­ses in ar­eas where there are none. Cur­rently there are 450 cour­ses coun­try­wide, but in ar­eas not eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by the ma­jor­ity of our peo­ple. For our sport to grow, we need to bring cour­ses to the peo­ple; with cheap mem­ber­ship, avail­able equip­ment… things like that in or­der for those less for­tu­nate to get the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the joys the sport has to of­fer.”

Mean­while Adrian Ford and Ni­col van Wyk, who un­til a cou- ple of weeks ago were the top two am­a­teurs in the Cape, have made the pro­gres­sion to the paid ranks (the Sun­shine Tour) af­ter winning their tour play­ing cards af­ter four tough rounds at qual­i­fy­ing school.

Both made the grade in comfortable fash­ion and will soon be mix­ing it with the top pro­fes­sion­als in the coun­try. An­other for mer top WP am­a­teur, Cameron John­son, has en­joyed a good first year in the paid ranks and earned enough to keep his tour card for an­other year.

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