Celebrating The Generous Goose

By: Craig Stirton
22 March, 2023: For the better part of 20 years, the South African Disabled Golf Association has had the privilege of counting two-time US Open Champion Retief Goosen among its patrons. SADGA members have had their lives touched by Goosen’s tremendous contribution to the association through the years, financial and otherwise. For all the lives Goosen has touched, as he tells the South African Disabled Golf Association’s Craig Stirton, he too has been touched by his interactions with the SADGA’s disabled golfers.
2004 was a significant year for Goosen. He won three times worldwide, highlighted by a second US Open title at Shinnecock Hills. He rose to a career-high year-end ranking of 4th. Plaudits were heaped upon the softly-spoken South African for his on-course exploits and rightfully so. As commendable, but certainly not as well-documented, was Goosen’s philanthropic contribution to South African golf and his induction as a SADGA patron.
“My feeling was that golf is a game that everyone can play and enjoy to a certain level. I have a cousin who’s in a wheelchair and you know people see disabled people as totally different people and not just as another human being,” says Goosen. 
“I just felt getting involved and helping these guys enjoy the game as much as we do would be a great thing to do.”
Much like Goosen’s on-course demeanour, the 54-year-old’s contribution to the SADGA has always been without fuss. That said, among those who know just how much Goosen has done for the SADGA, there is no shortage of appreciation.
“We absolutely love Retief and are grateful for all that he has done for us,” says SADGA Operations Manager Lily Reich. 
“What many golf fans don’t know is that beneath Retief’s unflappable exterior in the heat of competition lies a kind heart that has been incredibly good to the members of the SADGA. Whether it be a financial contribution or a message of support ahead of an event, Retief’s generosity over the years has been deeply heartwarming and we thank him for his continued support.”
Whenever Goosen’s incredibly busy globe-trotting schedule has allowed, he’s been on hand to participate in SADGA golf days. Reflecting on some of the memories he’s made playing with SADGA members, Goosen was effusive in his praise.
“I really enjoy the guys’ company and the few times I’ve played golf with them I’ve seen just how good they are!
“I remember playing with a kid with just his left-arm and he was driving it 300 metres, he was hitting it as far as me! I think he was a 5-handicap player with one arm so it just shows you what can be done.”
Goosen also highlighted the inspirational effect golfers with disabilities can have on their able-bodied playing partners.
“It [playing with disabled golfers] opens your eyes to the fact that on the days when you’re down and you’re complaining about everything, when you think about these guys just trying to enjoy the game, it makes you smile.”
Goosen applauded the platform that the SADGA provides to its golfers and in particular how playing the game can enhance a disabled person’s mental health.
“I think what SADGA does so greatly is bring people together that are all sort of in the same position and let them have a good time! Playing golf helps them cope with any depression, sadness or loneliness they may be feeling.   
“I think what SADGA does really well is bring happiness to the lives of people with disabilities.”
Knowing that they have the encouragement and support of one of the true greats of the South African game will no doubt make them pretty happy too! 
Everyone at the SADGA thanks Retief for his contribution to the association and wishes him all the best for the season ahead. Who knows, maybe 2023 is the year a US Senior Open trophy makes its way onto The Goose’s mantlepiece! 
Photo: Supplied
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Media enquiries, please contact
Media Liaison
Craig Stirton
t. +27 (0) 83 384 6889
e. craigstirt@gmail.com
SADGA office
Lily Reich
t. +27 (0)82 888 9888 / +27 (0) 21 685 2955
e: lily@sadga.co.za