CAPE ST FRANCIS, Eastern Cape – As Dylan Naidoo chases a place on the DP World Tour through its Qualifying School at the end of this year, the overcast, drizzly and blustery conditions at St Francis Links for this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf could serve as the perfect preparation for his big dreams.
The 24-year-old Naidoo was beaming after his day out in the strong winds and cold at the Vodacom Origins of Golf Pro-Am and is delighted to be back at one of his favourite courses.
“The last time I played here I was just 17 years old and it is such a phenomenal course. It tests every aspect of your game and I feel like I’m a very different player to when I was last here,” Naidoo said.
As one of the flagship players in the Sunshine Tour’s Papwa Sewgolum Class for development players, Naidoo’s game has indeed moved to a different level over the past few years. He secured playing privileges on the Korn Ferry Tour in the United States and is now chasing a place on the DP World Tour next season, having made it through to the Second Stage of the tour’s Qualifying School in November.
“I’ve been a transformation golfer for the last three years and, since the Papwa Sewgolum Class came into being in June, I have seen really nice growth in our group of golfers. It helps the guys realise that they are very good players, they deserve to be here, and it’s about giving them every opportunity to be successful.
“Starting out on tour can be financially very difficult, especially if you come from a disadvantaged background. Now there’s a system in place, with each of the golfers getting a bit of a stipend every month that will really help.
“The Vodacom Origins of Golf series is also a great part of this process. The series teaches you how to be a professional and it allows you to network with the amateurs. It basically teaches you how to go about your business on tour. It was a big help when I started out as a pro and it’s a big help still now.”
The Sunshine Tour’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Series is the longest running pro-am series on the local tour. It is now in its 18th season and has this year already travelled to De Zalze in the Western Cape, Highland Gate in Mpumalanga and San Lameer in KwaZulu-Natal. The Final of the five-tournament series will be played at Pinnacle Point at the end of October.