Amateurs that turned pro in 2009

At the beginning of 2009 it was reported that 17 or 18 amateurs had turned professional, having successfully won playing privileges through the final stage of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School.

Professional golf is perceived to be financially most lucrative. So, how are these players doing in the money stakes, with the Sunshine Tour a quarter of the way through its 2009 season?

Sitting top of the class is Cameron Johnston, 42nd on the latest Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, with winning of R121,944.

Following, well down, when compared to Johnston, in 77th place is Johan du Buisson. He has played in 9 tournaments and won R50,710, leaving him 77th on the Sunshine Tour money list.

Jacques Blaauw is next in 97th place with winnings of R32,122, having played in 9 tournaments as well.

Experience must count for something. The top three players all won national colours last year, won national or provincial events and did not turn professional early in their playing careers. Blaauw, who won the SA Stroke Play and the Glacier SA Amateur Championship last year, is the youngest he is now 23 while the other two players are in their 30s.

All other former amateurs of the class of 2008 have very little to show for the 8 or 9 tournaments they have played so far. With the direct costs of attending a tournament averaging at least R4,000, at a very conservative guess, which includes travel, accommodation, caddie fees, meals, etc, not many can claim to be making the grade.

Only two players are currently in this bracket Johnston (average of R13,549 per tournament) and du Buisson (R5,635).

Players like Francois Olivier, from the successful Western Province SA IPT team, has played in 7 tournaments and is yet to make a cut.

Louis Calitz, who won the Proudfoot Trophy in 2008, during the Glacier SA Amateur Championship, he has failed to qualify in 6 tournaments, of the 9 he has entered. This means he has only managed to tee up in 3 tournaments he has entered! Amazing for a player who showed so much promise while playing amateur golf. His best result to date was in the SAA Pro Am at Princes Grant, 71st place, which did not make the cut.

One of the more talented black players, Alphuis Kelapile, from North West Province has managed to crack an invite into 8 of the 9 tournaments he has played. He too is yet to make a cut.

Ockie Strydom, he too has played in 7 and is yet to make a cut.

In the final analysis, the cruel statistics broadcast the fact that of the class of 2008, only two, of 18 players who went to Tour School, are keeping their heads above water. Another 7 players have managed to win some money, they include PG van Zyl (R21,078), Keenan Davidse (R16,991), Dewald Smit (R13,140) and Ruan Botha (R10,070). All these players’ average winnings, per tournament entered, range between R2,200 per tournament entered and R1,119!.

Nine players (50%) are yet to win their first pay cheque.

It is amazing to think that Ryan Dreyer, who has found a new zest for his golf life, playing the amateur game, managed to hover unhappily for so long in the pro ranks until his distaste for the road got so bad he gave up the game!

Professional golf draws in those who seldom understand the realities of ‘life on tour’. No wonder these young players unwittingly find themselves, eventually, in a position they never knew about when the set out, like Dreyer did.

The heavenly goods that come with the well publicized lifestyle of a successful golfer lures most to have a ‘shot’ at playing professional golf. The rough road that Dreyer, and many others ended up on, comes as an unexpected bad dream that destroys any enjoyment and self worth a player managed to get out of the game of golf.

But is it a surprise, the early signs of players on the road to nowhere are in the statistics listed above, aren’t they?

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