Leg-amputee Simo Mdudu is relishing the challenge of three rounds of medal at the Canon SA
Disabled Golf Open next year.
Resilient and positive – two words that sum up Mdudu’s character perfectly. Life as he had
known it for the better part of 15 years changed almost instantly one winter’s day in 2015.
To be hit by a train going at full-bore is to experience unthinkable pain. Yet as Mdudu explains,
the pain did not set in immediately.
“At first you don’t feel anything. It’s weird how you lose so much blood,” he recalls.
“You see on the tv when someone is bleeding but when it happens to you the first ten minutes
there’s nothing because you just feel nothing – it’s numb and everything. But after a while it kicks
in and then it’s painful.”
A number of people came to Mdudu’s aid immediately after the accident. Complete strangers
wrapped the youngster in jackets in an effort to keep him warm as rain beat down. After being
taken to Groote Schuur hospital, Mdudu experienced an outpouring of support from school
children from all across Cape Town who came to wish him well.
“When I went to the hospital now you see who supports you then like your family, your friends. It
was so full in the corridor,” he says.
“My mom couldn’t go in because it was full of students from different schools from Cape Town,
Pinelands, Claremont. People loved and supported me.”
Despite being surrounded by such tremendous love and support, the harsh reality was that
extensive damage to his right leg and foot left the doctors with no alternative but to amputate his
leg above the knee.
It was around this time that Mdudu’s inherent resilience first began to show itself. Even after
spending a month in hospital – Simo immediately embraced the challenges that came with his
new life – returning to school just two weeks after being discharged.
Like so many children growing up in South Africa, Mdudu loved to play soccer with his friends
and was shattered by the thought of never taking the field again. He was soon to be exposed to
another sport that he’d instantly develop an affinity for.
A resident of the Cape Town suburb of Philippi, Mdudu had known his neighbour Florence for a
number of years. What he didn’t know was who she worked for: SADGA Operations Manager
Lily Reich. Recognising that she had a chance to make a difference in Mdudu’s life, Florence
introduced her neighbour to Reich who had impacted the lives of so many children just like Simo
over the years.
Mdudu joined the SADGA’s First Swing Program shortly thereafter and would travel to the
association’s home at King David Golf Club every Friday where he’d spend the afternoon
developing his golf game.
Fast-forward five years and Mdudu’s progress has been astounding. Today Mdudu plays off an
18.7 Handicap Index and in February he made his debut for Team South in the SADGA
Provincial Challenge. When asked about the impact that golf has had on his life, Mdudu doesn’t
mince his words.
“I felt that golf saved my life because I was part of something. I felt like I belonged,” he says.
While the Provincial Challenge was great for competitive experience, the Canon SA Disabled
Golf Open is a different kettle of fish entirely.
Nevertheless, Simo showed in last year’s event at Magalies Park that he is capable of withstanding the pressure. His performance improved each day and stableford rounds of 27-29-38 earned him a 24-point win over Thys Kruger in the leg-
amputee stableford category.
Steady improvements over the past year means that Mdudu will be playing three rounds of
medal around The Woods layout at Mount Edgecombe. On his goals for the event, Simo
warned against the pitfalls of unrealistic expectations.
“I want to put a realistic goal, just to be top-25 for now. At the end of the day, if I put top-10 and
don’t get it then I was fooling myself,” he says.
With a wealth of mental fortitude to compliment his tempered expectations, Mdudu may be
primed for a special week at South Africa’s flagship disabled golf event.