European team captain Jose Maria Olazabal with vice captain Darren Clarke (Getty Images)
Three Major Champions and a host of European Tour and Sunshine Tour professionals devoted an entire morning to a group of learners from schools in Mamelodi, Atteridgeville and Mabopane at the official golf development clinic for the Tshwane Open.
It was a rare opportunity for the enthusiastic young golfers to receive expert instruction from European Ryder Cup Captain and double Masters Tournament winner José María Olazábal, former US Open Champion Michael Campbell, 2011 Open Champion Darren Clarke and a group of other professionals.
“This is such a great opportunity for our kids and it is so important for them to be able to interact with these world-class golfers and see what the game of golf can do for you,” said Nathan Maluleka, a golf coach at the Vodacom World of Golf and who coaches most of these children himself.
The professionals also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the city of Tshwane’s most enthusiastic young golfers, drawn from the Central Secondary School in Mabopane, Mamelodi High School and Morakoma Primary School in Mamelodi, and Motheong Pre-school and Primary School in Atteridgeville.
“It’s wonderful to see a country like South Africa growing like it is. Hopefully we can see some of these kids in ten or 15 years playing with us on tour,” said Spain’s Pablo Larrazábal.
“I’ve been helping a boy of five, and it’s amazing to see how well he swings the club. When I was five I didn’t know what a golf club was, and there are kids here hitting great shots at that age.”
Olazábal certainly enjoyed his time with the children. After watching a young girl hit a shot and lifting her foot on the follow through, he said, “When we go to the disco, you can lift your feet. But we are not dancing here. This is golf. Feet on the ground. We can dance later!”
City of Tshwane MMC, Nozipho Makeke, paid tribute to the dedication of the professionals to help grow the game in Tshwane.
“This is a long-term project for us, and for the learners here,” he said. “We want them to get involved in golf because this is not an elitist sport. It can be a game for everyone, and we want to see some of our Tshwane children becoming international golf stars one day.”