Swedish professional Joel Sjöholm has no idea what it is like to live in a shack, or to feed an entire family on a loaf of bread. But as an adopted child, he does understand the concept of hope.
At the Alexandra Driving Range in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Sjöholm joined several other European Tour and Sunshine Tour professionals in a golf development clinic for disadvantaged children from four local schools.
It was an opportunity for Sjöholm to live out his passion for children with similar stories to his own.
“I suppose I’m a little different to most professional golfers who do these clinics because I know where I would’ve been in life if I wasn’t adopted. I was born in Chile but adopted by Swedish parents when I was three months old.
"It was an honour for me to get parents who have taken me as one of their own. I’ve always felt like I was their son and they have given me so much love. I like being with kids who have a similar background, and for me to be able to give back to these kids is fantastic.
"I want to open my own golf academy one day and use golf to change the lives of kids around the world.”
The children were brought from Alex High School, Realogile High School, East Bank High School and Lyndhurst Primary School to spend time with the pros going through the basics of the swing.
Rookie professional Jonathan Raphunga, who played in two previous Joburg Opens as an amateur before turning professional this year, certainly appreciated being part of the clinic.
“This is something I never experienced when I was learning the game. I didn’t have a professional teach me a few basics, so it’s gratifying knowing I can impart my knowledge on somebody and they can benefit.”
Boitumelo Motsepe, a 17 year old learner from Realogile High School, thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“Golf brings a lot of unity in people. You meet a lot of people and discover things about yourself. Golf teaches you who you are,” she said.
And there’s no doubt who she will be following in this week’s Joburg Open, which tees off at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on Thursday.
“My favourite South African golfer is Charl Schwartzel. He’s a great golfer and is passionate about what he does. He’s very determined and inspires me a lot.”