Scots give back at SAGDB clinic in Soweto

Over the past six weeks, the Scottish Golf Union National Men’s Squad has had a highly successful run competing on South Africa’s amateur circuit.

The visitors not only won a Test against South Africa at Leopard Creek and beat a South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) team and an SA Junior side at the annual Triangular at Randpark, but Brian Soutar also clinched the country’s most prestigious amateur title when he beat Brandon Stone in a tightly contested battle at the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship at Mowbray Golf Club.

In the country for an eight-week winter performance programme supported by Aberdeen Asset Management, South African businessman Johann Rupert and the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation, the seven-man squad has also performed well in various other amateur tournaments.

In light of all their success and to pay homage to SAGDB president Rupert and the SAGDB’s sponsors, City Lodge and Avis, who supplied vehicles and accommodation at hugely discounted rates, the squad decided to give back to golf development before they return home.

During a two-hour session at the Soweto Country Club on Friday 9 March, the seven-man squad hosted a golf clinic alongside national coach Ian Rae for 12 SAGDB learners from Alexandria and Sophiatown.

SAGDB Central Gauteng regional manager Andy Ostle, assisted by coaches Solly Oliphant and Tshepo Moekoena, were on hand to help translate and pick up useful tips as well.

“Unfortunately, due to recent strikes, the schools were not willing to allow more children to take time off, but the 12 that were allowed to attend had a blast,” said Ostle.

“The children from Lyndhurst Primary have already graduated to mashie courses, but the two children from Sophiatown were beginners and it was wonderful that the Scots made no distinction between the advanced children and the beginners. First, they were all treated to quality chipping and putting sessions and then they all moved to the first hole, where they spent quite a lot of time practicing longer shots, adjusting their swings and working on their stances, grips and alignment. It was a brilliant opportunity for the learners and our coaches were equally enthralled.”

Rae said that although the children were the main beneficiaries of the clinic, the team members also gained wonderful insight into the SAGDB’s golf development programme.

“It was very inspiring watching the young boys enjoy golf and being so enthusiastic about the sport,” he said. “The SAGDB’s programme is doing a fantastic job of helping and supporting young boys and girls in underprivileged areas of South Africa. Not only are they helping with golf but they are helping these children develop themselves as people and giving them a great chance of success in life when they become older.

“The kids were awesome, they were so well-mannered. The players had a great time spending time with them and were very impressed with how the boys hit the ball.”

Daniel Kay, the runner-up in the Scottish Amateur last year, said he was equally pleased to have played his part in helping the Soweto children.

“It was a fantastic experience,” said the 21-year-old from Dunbar. “What an opportunity to spend time and give a little help to such young, talented, well mannered and enthusiastic kids. It’s great to see young kids that age so enthusiastic about the game and just wanting to learn and play. Spending time with them on the putting green and then moving on to the range for longer shots really showed how good a job the development board has done in such a short time with the kids.
“It was a fun and enjoyable experience and after spending time and seeing the kids play a little, I’m sure one day we will see some of them playing for their country and maybe even in the professional ranks.”

Reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Soutar agreed. “We’ve had the chance to play against some of the SAGDB’s top players and graduates in the events and the Triangular. We managed to beat the SAGDB by a mere four-and-a-half points. I’ve been impressed by the amount of talented players that have come through the SAGDB programme. Like Musi Nethunswi, who is from Soweto Country Club and was selected for the SA National Team, I’m sure from the group we saw more golfers from Soweto will be playing golf for South Africa in the near future.”

Soutar added that he has been completely surprised by the standard of amateur golf in South Africa.
“I came to South Africa with a preconceived notion that the standard of golf here had to be low after the SA Amateur final last year was contested by two Scotsmen. I was very much mistaken. I would say the standard is as high, if not higher, than in Scotland. From what we saw from the SAGDB team at the Triangular, I definitely won’t be surprised to see more of their graduates making the national side in the next year or so.”

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