For many (many!) South Africans, happiness = golf.
There are more than 145 000 registered golfers in eMzansi, which has the highest percentage of golfers of any African population.
Look at the player list of any of the world’s major tournaments and it’ll be littered with South African names.
The 2017 Masters in Augusta:
Branden Grace (world rank: 20th) SA’s top ranked golfer
Louis Oosthuizen (world rank: 28th)
Charl Schwartzel (world rank: 29th) – 2011 Masters Champion
Ernie Els (world Rank: 410)
Trevor Immelman (world rank: 1893) – 2008 Champion
The British Open:
In fact, there are close to 120 South Africans on the 2017 Sunshine Tour.
So what is it about this sport that we love so much? We spoke to three South Africans to find out:
Jurian Mostert is in grade 10 at Hoërskool De Villiers Graaff in Villiersdorp, Western Cape. His first time on the golf course was at age seven, when he accompanied his father around the course. It was the start of what is sure to be a lifelong passion.
“I would go with my dad every chance I got,” he said, “until at age 12 when I played my first game. It was like magic!”
That was four years ago. Today, at age 16, Jurian plays at junior provincial level off a 2 handicap.
“For me, golf is more than a sport. It is my passion. I play every opportunity I can and hope to be able to play at professional level one day,” he says. “It’s a lekker way to pass the time; it helps me to relax and it’s a really social sport.”
Jurian has three more tournaments to play in ahead of the inter-provincials later this year in East London.
“That is my goal at the moment,” he says, “to win at inter-provincials. It is a careful balancing act, keeping up with schoolwork and practising my golf. But I am determined to be successful at both.”
Anne Clarke is a retired corporate executive who lives in Johannesburg and plays golf two or three times a week.
“I started playing golf about 30 years ago when my husband and I moved to Oranjemund,” she explains. “Being new in town, I saw it as a good way to make friends and to get to know the people in the community.”
Since then Anne has played as often as possible, depending on work pressures.
“Since I left the corporate world in 2000 I have had a lot more time to spend on the golf course,” she says. “I find it keeps me active, and I love spending time out in the fresh air in park-like surroundings.”
Anne says being a woman is not an issue at all.
“Things have changed,” she says. “These days women and men are seen as equals on the golf course. Our handicaps are calculated based on where we tee off, which means the playing fields are levelled, and most clubs are gender-neutral in their fee structures.
“There’s nothing better than a good day on the golf course.”
Jono Hegarty, Chef de Village for Club Med, started his Club Med career as a golf instructor at the Bintan Island resort in Indonesia.
“One of my life goals is to play in every country in the world,” he says.
Jono says what he loves about golf is the fact that you’re playing against yourself.
“Whenever I play, I always try to do better than my last round. That’s one of the things that keeps me coming back. That and the fact that it’s a great tool for social and business interaction. You get to spend four or five undistracted hours with the same people, which gives you plenty of opportunity to talk about whatever is on your mind.”
So how many countries has Jono played in so far?
“Let’s see… Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa, China, Turkey… five,” he says, “which means I have a lot to look forward to. No matter what your level, Club Med has a range of resorts that offer golf to suit your style.
Our most famous golf resorts are located in Mauritius, Indonesia, Portugal, France, Brazil, United States and the Dominican Republic. At each resort you’ll benefit from professional coaching at all levels, even if you’ve never played before!”