Els aids juniors to compete, learn and have fun
In a career spanning 25 years, former world number one Ernie Els has won four majors, claimed 67 podium finishes around the globe and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in May 2011.
The Big Easy’s major interests in golf-course design and winemaking is well documented, as is his interests in travel, clothing and the restaurant and beverage industry.
Surprisingly, though, Els would rather be remembered for his dedication to creating awareness of autism through the Els for Autism Foundation and junior golf development in South Africa than his wealth of achievements on the sport’s international stage.
“I have been deeply involved in improving the education, life-skills and golf-skills of young golfers from the previously disadvantaged communities through the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation (EEFF),” said Els from Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, where he and fellow Open champion Louis Oosthuizen lead the South African line-up in the 96th PGA Championship.
“My commitment to growing future stars for South Africa extends beyond the EEFF, though.
“In 2010, I collaborated with the South African Golf Association (SAGA) to launch and host the annual Ernie Els Primary Schools Championship.
“It has been exciting to see how this tournament has grown in the last four years and it is especially gratifying to see 19 schools challenge for the title this year. It is such an honour to be involved with the juniors at this level of their careers.
“I am thrilled to assist the SAGA in providing a stage for our future stars where they can develop their skills and talent during an organised and competitive tournament.
“It is also critically important to show the juniors the benefits of a healthy, active and outdoor lifestyle. I believe that playing sport and interacting with each other is such an important part of growing up, especially in the fast-paced world we live in today.”
So, while Els will be hunting his fifth Major title, he will keep a close eye on proceedings at Middelburg Country Club where 20 teams from primary schools around across the width and breadth of South Africa will battle for glory in the fourth edition of the national team event.
“The Ernie Els Primary Schools Championship provides a fantastic platform for our young juniors to showcase their talent and play for the pride of their schools,” said SAGA Golf Integration Manager, Eden Thompson.
“Anton van Wouw Primary School in Pretoria claimed the inaugural Ernie Els Primary Schools Championship in 2010. Glenwood House from George in the Southern Cape won in 2012 and last year, St Dunstan’s College in Ekurhuleni rose to the occasion.
“It is significant that schools in three different provinces have stepped into the winner’s circle, as this emphasizes the vast pool of talent across South Africa. The championship provides a competitive stage for these youngsters and an opportunity to compete at national level.”
The fourth Ernie Els Primary Schools Championship has drawn a total of 80 players from 19 schools, including two teams from the defending champions.
Each team has four players and the 20 teams will compete in two rounds of 18 holes each. The three best scores in each round will count towards the team total in each round.
ERNIE ELS PRIMARY SCHOOLS CHAMPIONSHIP – TEAMS
Paarl Boys Primary School
St Johns Preparatory
St Dunstan’s College Preparatory School 1
St Dunstan’s College Preparatory School 2
Grey College Primary
Willem Postma Primer
Virginia Preparatory School
Laerskool Bosveld Primary
Laerskool Staatspresident CR Swart
Kathu Primary School
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.