This week’s European Tour event, the Tshwane Open in South Africa, will leave a golfing legacy for local communities.
One of the greatest aspects of the game of golf compared with other sports is what the players themselves put back into their sport at grass roots level.
In the UK, many of the current PGA and European stars – and we’re taking multi-millionaires, here – can very often be found at centres of excellence they’ve founded, academies for Junior Golf or getting behind the sport at Open Days to get in and amongst the fans in a manner few other professionals do.
But is UK golf participating enough to make golf accessible to all?
Let’s look at what’s going on in South Africa, by comparison.
Nowhere is the practise of contributing to grass roots golf more apparent than in South Africa.
That in itself is perhaps a contradiction in terms, due to an astonishing lack of grass roots one could physically mow into a green capable of putting anything on.
Okay, we’ll settle on savannah roots level, then.
As the European Tour makes its final appearance in South Africa this year at the Tshwane Open, we get a chance to see this savannah roots level of input in action.
The Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate is home to Els Club Copperleaf, our hosts for the last tour event in the Africas this year.
Beyond all the glitz, glamour and €1.5M purse, the Tshwane Open is actively pushing local authorities to provide golfing facilities for the under-privileged in Tshwane, Centurion and the surrounding areas.
Indeed, 50 children from the vicinity were present at the Els Copperleaf Club on the eve of Thursday’s European Tour event, getting to grips with the facilities on offer through this initiiative.
The pushing has worked, not just on potential South African golfers of the future, but their right-hand (wo)men, the caddies, too.
The municipality’s spokewoman has already been in touch with local media to confirm that the city of Centurion is committing to golf clinics to cement this golf drive [sorry].
These facilities will help develop the game for 6-16 year olds who would otherwise be unavailed of golf or any of its amenities.
It would be easy to underestimate this achievement, so let’s not.
As Ndlovu confirmed in her statement, Tshwane’s schools will be the first in the country to benefit from the introduction of golf into its sports curriculum.
Whereas the golf tuition will take place initially at the Els Foundation, the caddies’ program will be spread around the municipalty’s golf courses, meaning a potential broader catchment area for disadvantaged youngsters with an interest in golf.
It would be wonderful if some of UK golf’s stars would push as hard to bring the sport to schools in towns and cities across the country that are not as upper class as your Wentworths, Royal Lythams and Sutton Coldfield‘s Belfry.
Perhaps they could get their heads together with Ernie Els whilst they’re sunning it up Stateside and get a few hands-on tips from the man himself.
We’ll see, when any of our UK stars deign to visit Europe, rather than spend the majority of the season, as has been the case so far, on the PGA Tour of America.
For an update of play at this weekend’s Tshwane Open, here’s a round-up of day 2 at the top of the leaderboard before the threat of lightning caused a third of the field to be called back to the clubhouse before they could finish their rounds: Storm threat halts play, day 2, Tshwane Open
Play is due to recommence at 6:45am (8:45am GMT) tomorrow (Saturday 2nd March) to conclude the second rounds of golf, make the cut and then get cracking with day 3.
Coverage in the UK starts at 10:30am on SKY Sports 3, where they should just about be getting into third round action, given that there’s a good few holes yet to play out to decide who makes the weekend’s golf and whose African golf safari is over for the 2013 season.
If you’d like to see more interaction from UK golf stars at grass roots level, share this article with anyone you think may be in a position to at least prick their Stateside consciences, would you?
Thanks a million, Thet Watson. xxx
See original article on www.golfcoursearchitecture.net