As one of the most turbulent years in recent memory draws to a close, it is time to reflect on the obstacles we encountered and how thanks to the lateral thinking and commitment of everyone at the SADGA we were able to find swathes of light amid the gloom.
The year began just like any other – with the successful staging of our Nomads FSP Coaches Workshop in January. Plans were put in place to improve the overall offering of our First Swing Program and everyone was filled with all the positivity that a new year brings.
SADGA fundraisers are among the highlights of any calendar year and in February we staged a very enjoyable and beneficial fundraiser at Port Elizabeth Golf Club. Though 2020 has made history for all the wrong reasons, we prefer to dwell on the piece of disabled golfing history made at the SADGA Provincial Challenge – Team North’s victory in the inaugural North versus South encounter.
Just as quickly as the year gathered momentum so it was thrown into complete disarray as the Covid-19 pandemic gripped South Africa and the world. Prior to the national lockdown, the SADGA decided to suspend all office operations and instead work remotely. It was incredibly gratifying to see how each and every member of our team rose to the challenge and remained focused and committed to producing high-quality work. Our Board of Directors meanwhile conducted monthly meetings via zoom so all in all we were very pleased with how effectively remote operations were executed during the lockdown period.
Another highlight during the lockdown was the tremendous success achieved by Daren Hanekom, Sandile Msimango, Curtley Roberts and Charles Williams who are all studying toward their PGA of South Africa degrees. Keep up the fantastic work guys, we believe you will all make fantastic PGA professionals one day.
Congratulations to Teddy Ntshiwa and Joseph Mohapi who also recently obtained their PGA Grow Golf coaches certificate. This forms part of our endeavour to educate school sports personnel and physios to carry out our golf sessions at the FSP schools.
After two months that felt more like two years without golf during lockdown – our members were given the green light to return to the fairways. On behalf of the SADGA, I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to GolfRSA for working tirelessly to ensure that golf was one of the first sports to resume and for implementing stringent playing measures which ultimately ensured our safety.
As an association we decided that returning to our previous Provincial Day model was neither viable nor sensible in the short-term. Instead we introduced and ran five very successful Virtual Provincial Days between August and December. It was fantastic to have so many players participating in these days and also see increased participation from members who live in areas which did not host Provincial Days in the past.
Fun though the Virtual Provincial Days have been, 2021 will see normal Provincial Days resume (see schedule below) as well as the commencement of a new points system which will run for the duration of the 2021 calendar year.
Continuing to nurture the talent within South African disabled golf was placed high on the post-lockdown priority list. To this end, two very successful training camps were held for our North and South squads at Pearl Valley Golf Estate and Zwartkop Country Club respectively. A sincere thank you to Pearl Valley and PGA professional James Wade as well as Zwartkop Country Club and Elsabe Hefer for ensuring that the respective training camps were fruitful and enjoyable.
We as an association are always eager to celebrate the unique and wide-ranging life stories of our members. Through various profile articles, we were all able to get to know Charlene Pienaar, Simo Mdudu and Pierre Kotze a little better which we hope our members enjoyed.
We also hosted a few podcasts on our social media platforms which offered an opportunity to get to know and interact with our patrons and members. From a membership standpoint, a number of podcasts were recorded with players during what was supposed to be the week of the Canon SA Disabled Golf Open. While Covid-19 prevented us from staging the tournament, we all enjoyed reminiscing about the amazing moments and memories from tournaments past.
SADGA consists of individuals who work passionately and tirelessly to offer disabled individuals the opportunity to participate in and enjoy their golf. One such person is our gem of an admin assistant, Zhaan Felix. Craig Stirton had a chat with Zhaan about her role within the association, her fondest memories during her eight years of fantastic service and how she chooses to unwind at the end of the day. If you haven’t done so already – head on over to our social media platforms and watch the interview – you’re in for a treat.
Another way in which we’ve been able to interact with our following on social media is through the Golf Champs fantasy game. Run every major championship week, Golf Champs allowed our followers to pit their golf knowledge (and dumb luck!) against one another which was great fun for all who participated.
2020 has also seen a few of our members achieve some fantastic personal milestones. Jenny Frost and Riaan Spreeth celebrated holes in one while Trevor Reich broke par for the first time so a massive congratulations to those three SADGA stalwarts.
Despite the turbulent nature of the 2020 academic year, there was plenty to celebrate within our First Swing Program. A new putting area was installed at St Vincent School while Reubin Birin’s FSP golfers can now enjoy the benefit of an indoor environment which will help them develop their skills. Thank you to Olympia Paints for making the indoor environment look so aesthetically pleasing and appealing for our FSP golfers.
For the first time in the Program’s history, we now have an FSP patron in European Tour winner and one of South Africa’s rising stars, Garrick Higgo. Garrick’s work ethic, his humility and maturity are among the many qualities he possesses which we feel align with the SADGA philosophy. Garrick joins the likes of Dale Hayes, Retief Goosen and Branden Grace as South African pros associated with the SADGA. We are incredibly grateful for the fantastic support each of these individuals gives to the SADGA and wish them every success on the course in 2021.
The SADGA has been fortunate to receive an outpouring of support from golf unions since golf resumed. From KZN and Western Province to Central and Northern Gauteng as well as the Southern Cape and the Boland Golf Union – they have all made significant donations to the SADGA which will keep our First Swing Programs among other things afloat during 2021.
The SADGA has also received funding from the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation and support from the EDGA which will help equip 45 PGA Professionals with the necessary knowledge to teach a disabled person to play the game. Each coach will then be tasked with teaching five new disabled individuals which will ultimately help us introduce more individuals with permanent disabilities to golf.
There is also fantastic news for our National Deaf Junior Interschools tournament in 2021. After their years of support of the SADGA, Nomads have committed to the role of title sponsor for the event and we couldn’t be more excited about embarking on this new chapter in the event’s history. Thank you to Nomads for their continued and enthusiastic support of disabled golf in South Africa.
After the trying year 2020 has been, it was fantastic to use National Disability Awareness month as a time to play lots of golf – most of it of a very high standard while sharing in the camaraderie and spirit that are the cornerstones of our association. A number of challenges took place throughout the month from the One Club Challenge to the Directors Day and Executive Director and Friends’ series as well as the Revenge Day.
Our Gauteng North golfers also pitted their skills against some able-bodied golfers in the Otway Hayes Senior Classic and the 21 Club event respectively and gave very good accounts of themselves which is absolutely awesome.
A hugely successful National Disability Awareness month culminated with the National Disability Awareness Day on the 3rd of December which was a coming together of SADGA members, directors and friends of the association alike. Many thanks to all who participated, it certainly was a fun day out on the course. Thank you to our directors for giving of your time so selflessly this year in aid of disabled golf – we appreciate the invaluable contribution that each and every one of you has made.
The SADGA is grateful to have enjoyed the longtime support of some fantastic organisations. To Canon South Africa – thank you for your years of loyal support and for playing your part in shining a light on the talent within South African disabled golf. To Volkswagen South Africa, we can’t thank you enough for very kindly providing us with another Volkswagen Caddy and for ensuring the safe transport of our golfers and staff.
As the year winds down, I’d just like to wish everyone a happy, safe and enjoyable festive season and encourage you all to cherish the time with your loved ones.
Wear your masks, wash your hands and above all rest up ahead of what promises to be an exciting and prosperous 2021 for the South African Disabled Golf Association.
SADGA Executive Director
2021 Key Dates
Canon SA Disabled Golf Open : 21st-25th of March
Provincial Challenge : Uitenhage 30th April till 2nd May
36 holes 0-36 handicaps
· Cape Town Open: 25th – 26th September @ KDM
· Joberg Open : 16th – 7th November @ ZCC
· KwaZulu Natal Open: tbc
· PLZ Open : tbc
The Invitational Thursday 29th – 30th Oct in Uitenhage