Retief Goosen poses with Siyanda Mwandla (Getty Images)
Three years ago, Retief Goosen met a young golfer from a deprived township who was just starting out in the game.
He saw a spark in Siyanda Mwandla, and promptly offered the gifted yet raw teenager some technical – and motivational – advice.
The pair were reunited at Durban Country Club on Wednesday, when Goosen hosted a golf development clinic ahead of the Volvo Golf Champions.
Goosen could not believe the impact he made on the life of Mwandla, who since 2010 had gone from a six to a scratch handicap, won a handful of junior tournaments and recently represented KwaZulu-Natal in the SA Junior Inter-Provincial.
Mwandla was one of 28 aspiring golfers who attended the clinic, which was organised by the South African Golf Development Board.
“It makes me really proud to see how well Siya has done,” said Goosen. “I remember going to golf clinics as a junior and seeing the golfers I idolised, and wanting to be like them. That’s why I do this – to help inspire somebody like Siya.”
When Goosen first met Mwandla, he was so impressed with the youngster’s swing that he arranged for him to be given a new TaylorMade R9 driver.
“He had a great swing, but the wrong equipment,” said Goosen. “So I got him the new driver, and suddenly he hit it straighter and 50 yards further. It’s amazing to see he’s now representing KwaZulu-Natal.”
For his part, Mwandla was effusive in his praise for Goosen and the positive impact the two-time Major Champion has made on his life.
“I was basically just playing for fun,” he said, “and then Retief changed my golf, and my life.”
Mwandla was under pressure from his family to quit golf and focus more on his schooling. But when word reached them that Goosen truly believed in their son’s potential, a golfing career was firmly back on the agenda.
“Many young people in the townships fall into a life of crime so golf keeps me busy and away from that,” said Mwandla.