Before South African Louis Oosthuizen had struck a shot en route to his Open Championship victory, he was helping the future of the game by supporting the Golf Foundation’s Golf Roots programme in the tented village of St Andrews.
Last Wednesday, Oosthuizen was happy to walk over the course in pouring rain to the R&A Swingzone, where the Golf Foundation was promoting its work to make golf more accessible to youngsters from all backgrounds.
Always smiling and relaxed with the youngsters, he played games of Tri-Golf, the initiative that will help in the Foundation’s aim to reach one million boys and girls a year through Golf Roots in Great Britain by 2013.
Oosthuizen was himself helped through the Ernie Els Foundation in South Africa and he in turn is assisting youngsters through an academy of his own in his home area of Mossel Bay, South Africa.
“Youngsters need encouragement to get into golf and I was really pleased to help the Golf Foundation,” said Oosthuizen.
“I wanted to play with that plastic club because it felt so nice. It was fun doing that, and you could see the kids having a lot of fun with it. It was good sport.”
Oosthuizen was one of seven professionals who visited the R&A Swingzone on the practice days at St Andrews, and all were invited to take part in an ‘Open Tri-Golf Challenge’.
Oosthuizen finished a respectable fourth, but would go on to better things in the days to come. America’s Bill Haas won the overall challenge, beating Ian Poulter and Robert Karlsson.
Among Sunday’s Open leaders, Oosthuizen, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy have all helped raise the Golf Foundation’s profile at Golf Roots events in recent times.
Mike Round, Chief Executive of the Golf Foundation, said: “Louis’s visit to play Tri-Golf was inspiring for the youngsters present and everyone associated with what we try to do to make the game more accessible and to offer ‘Skills for Life’ to young people from all circumstances.
“The seven players who gave up time in their busy schedules should be commended, and one group of youngsters will now be able to say that they have played golf with the Open Champion – something they will remember for the rest of their lives.”