Hall of Fame hon­our for Dale Hayes

● Golf SA recog­nises ad­mirable role of ex-player

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Classifieds / Sport - Liam Del Carme

As a golf per­son­al­ity in this coun­try Dale Hayes has no par.

The larger-than-life Hayes’s con­tri­bu­tion to the sport was recog­nised on Wed­nes­day when he was in­ducted in the South African Hall of Fame.

Hayes‚ whose star briefly shone brightly as a go-get­ting young pro­fes­sional‚ later es­tab­lished him­self as one of the au­thor­i­ta­tive com­men­ta­tors on the game‚ as well as one of the finest af­ter-sun­set racon­teurs.

“I tried to fig­ure out a way of sound­ing hum­ble, but I’m very proud to be here‚” Hayes beamed at the start of his in­duc­tion speech.

He was quick to point out, though, that there were other play­ers de­serv­ing to be in­ducted ahead him‚ in­clud­ing four-time Open win­ner Bobby Locke.

Hayes‚ who turned 66 in July‚ was a pre­co­cious ta­lent‚ record­ing his first hole in one at the age of nine.

He went on to win the Swiss‚ Ital­ian‚ French‚ Span­ish and South African Opens be­tween 1975 and 1979.

His touch de­serted him‚ es­pe­cially around the greens‚ and by the age of 30 his ca­reer as a pro­fes­sional was ef­fec­tively over.

It‚ how­ever‚ served to sharpen his fo­cus.

“My fail­ure drove me to do the things that I did‚” he said.

A strong me­dia pres­ence‚ es­pe­cially as a broad­caster‚ as well as his owner- ship of the Zwartkop Coun­try Club, kept him at the fore­front of the game in this coun­try.

“I think of­ten those peo­ple get for­got­ten. A lot of time we tend to for­get ad­min­is­tra­tors‚ club pro­fes­sion­als‚” said Hayes.

“We don’t give them the credit they de­serve for grow­ing the game.

“I think it is so im­por­tant that ev­ery sin­gle per­son gets the op­por­tu­nity to play this game.”

He paid trib­ute to his fam­ily for their role in main­tain­ing his el­e­vated sta­tus in the sport.

“I ac­cept this not just on be­half of my­self but the Hayes fam­ily‚” he said.

“I would not be here if it were not for my fam­ily. [Col­lec­tively] the dif­fer­ent mem­bers of my fam­ily have been mem­bers of the PGA for 225 years. Seven of us.

“My fa­ther has passed on‚ my brother still works there‚ I work there‚ my wife works there‚ my son‚ my nephew‚ my ex-wife works there. You tell me I don’t have courage.”

Hayes’s en­gag­ing and some­times off­beat tele­vi­sion per­sona has made him a pop­u­lar mem­ber of the golf fir­ma­ment.

Nine-time Ma­jor win­ner Gary Player paid trib­ute to him.

“Dale Hayes re­ally and truly de­serves to be in­ducted into the Hall of Fame. He owns Zwartkop and has been a won­der­ful TV com­men­ta­tor and is the fun­ni­est guy on the first tee.

“He’s been a won­der­ful am­bas­sador for this coun­try‚” Player said.

Pho­to­graph: LEE WAR­REN /GALLO IMAGES

HON­OURED: Dale Hayes’s con­tri­bu­tion to SA golf has been ac­knowl­edged

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