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12th June 2024

Sunshine Tour and Gauteng Provincial Government take golf to the people

The Sunshine Tour’s long-held ambition of making the game of golf accessible to all South Africans gained momentum this past week as the Tour, alongside the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) -Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation , held golf clinics in Ekurhuleni and  Tshwane this past weekend.

Different to other initiatives, this Sunshine Tour and GPG programme is aimed at retaining identified talents with the view of reintegrating them into the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) which was formed to ensure that the game of golf reached as many young South Africans as possible.

The first of these clinics, facilitated by the Balderstone Sports Institute (BSI), was held at Norkem Park High School in Kempton Park on Saturday while the second was held at Rosina Sedibane Modiba Sports Complex in Laudium, Tshwane on Sunday. Over 80 children – boys and girls – from neighboring areas attended the clinics and they were introduced to the basics of golf under the watchful eyes of teachers from BSI.

“It’s the Tour’s ambition to get as many people involved in the game of golf as possible,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour. “And our partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government provides us with the perfect platform to achieve this objective. As we all know that Gauteng is the home of champions and a perfect place to unearth more talent.

“We have partnered with BSI on this initiative because of their well-established knowledge base and experience in sports development. The aim is to find kids with real potential, put them through a 10-week programme and those who perform well will then be integrated into the SAGDB structure where their development will be facilitated and accelerated.”

Director of Competitive Sport within the Gauteng Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation department, Philasande Muvevi, echoed Abt’s comments, detailing her department’s vision in this regard.

“As a province, we want to produce more champions and this initiative gives us that opportunity. As you may know, many in our communities still view golf as an elitist sports only accessible to those who are wealthy. We are in the process of changing this perception and proving that golf is accessible to everyone.

“The kids we will select from these groups will continue their development in the 10-week programme we have designed and after that, we will see how far they go. The main thing here is to introduce these kids to the game of golf and see who among them has the potential and the love for the game.

“We are fortunate to have partners like the Sunshine Tour because through their connections with BSI, initiatives like these can have proper impact in the lives of these youngsters. The SAGDB is renowned for its track record in producing quality golfers and administrators and having a structure like that as part of this programme is an advantage because we know these kids will be part of a successful story of development in this country.”

The Balderstone Sports Institute, led by Michael Balderstone, has a rich history of producing fine athletes. Toto Thimba Jnr, a winner on the Sunshine Tour and member of the Papwa Sewgolum Class, is one of the great talents the institution has produced over the years.

Balderstone expressed confidence in the initiative, saying his institution is excited to partner with the Sunshine Tour and the Gauteng Provincial Government in this programme.

“We are delighted to partner with the Sunshine Tour and the department of sports and recreation to bring golf to the people,” Balderstone said. “We have kids who have never played golf before and the excitement in the faces is beautiful to see. We will identify 10 kids here and take them through a programme and see what happens.

“Golf is meant to be enjoyed by everyone and we must applaud the Sunshine Tour and the department for doing the best to make sure golf is accessible. It’s a great sport to play and we are just glad to be part of this programme.”

The kids were taken through their paces; shown how to hold golf clubs properly, taught how to hit balls and given activities to help them with balance and basic ball skills. These, coupled with discipline and patience, are fundamental aspects of playing golf. The programme will be reviewed at the end of the 10-week programme to establish areas which must be improved to make the initiative even more impactful. The Sunshine Tour is Southern Africa’s leading golf Tour which has produced 27 major winners including Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen among others.