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Golf | Amateur Golf

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SAGDB nurture SA’s future champions

Twenty-four of the SAGDB’s brightest talents attended a four-day training camp at the World of Golf in Johannesburg from 16-19 February.

The 24 learners represent the SAGDB’s National Elite Squad and were selected on performance and merit.

National Technical Director Grant Hepburn said the SAGDB believes it is important to keep their top performers in the programme motivated and that the camps give them the extra incentive to practice, compete and perform.

“This was the first of at least four such camps planned for this year,” Hepburn said. “The camps are made possible by a generous donation from The Sports Trust and Sun International, and City Lodge Group, with whom we have had a long relationship and who take care of our accommodation requirements.”

Hepburn explained that the National Elite Squad was selected from the 1 800 learners currently in the SAGDB’s countrywide programme.

“At present, one could say that these 24 learners are among of the most talented golfers in our programme, but in all honesty, there is so much talent out there,” Hepburn said.

“We had to cap the squad at 24 due to funding restrictions, but we are hopeful that we will raise additional funding or sponsorship so that we can expand the numbers of the squad.”

The first three days consisted of one-on-one sessions with Hepburn and Northern Provinces provincial coach, Stephan van der Watt that covered intensive coaching, drills and practice.

Hepburn said that the sessions offered him and Van der Watt the opportunity to identify areas where the children need more attention.

“We will relay this info to the individual regional coaches,” he said. “It’s impossible to get to every child every month, but the fact that all our coaches work to the same standard coaching techniques across the board throughout South Africa, enables us to sort problems out telephonically.”

The learners also attended a 90-minute session with renowned South African sport psychologist, Theo Bezuidenhout.

SAGDB manager communications and projects, Andre Rossouw, explained that Bezuidenhout’s session covered breathing exercises, visualisation and pre-shot routines.

“Theo has a very practical approach with the session and it was quite incredible to see the children react and participate in the session,” Rossouw said.

“He gave them exercises and examples to practice that they could take with and apply in the competitive environment. One could sense that they understood the value of the tips and were keen to try them out.”

The learners got their chance in a tournament on the final day where the winner, Franklin Manchest, earned a spot in the 12-man side that competed on Tuesday, February 19th in the annual International Triangular against a SA Junior Side and a team from the Scottish Golf Union Mens National Squad at Randpark.

“It was interesting to watch see Franklin and Keelan Africa trying to put Theo’s tips into practice during the Triangular,” Rossouw said. “They didn’t quite succeed but it was clear that the tools he gave them will work for them in the long run.”

Hepburn said the talent within the National Elite Squad bodes well for the future of South African golf.

“The SAGDB makes a long term investment to recruit and coach learners through the programme, since we start coaching them at six or seven,” he explained.

“Recently, three of our former members joined the pro ranks. Sipho Bujela and Musi Nethunzwi from Soweto and Jacquin Hess from Boland were all among the first wave of SAGDB learners when we first launched and now these graduates have joined the Sunshine Tour.

“We are confident that our numbers will continue to grow and that, with the talent we saw on display at the World of Golf, we are going to nurture more and more graduates to the pro ranks.”


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