Daniel Slabbert

Daniel Slabbert

Daniel Slabbert: The essence of Time

Time is without question life’s most precious commodity. We never have enough of it. Wish we could go back in time to a particular period in our lives. Once against him, time has been a central character in leg-amputee Daniel Slabbert’s life. Now, as he enjoys a golf for the disabled competitive renaissance, time is finally working for the man from Kathu.

Jumping on a trampoline in September of 2005, Slabbert landed awkwardly and was propelled towards a wall, his leg slamming through a window. With bone exposed and a makeshift tourniquet wrapped around his leg, Daniel and his father made the harrowing 40 kilometre drive to the nearest hospital in Kathu.

Ill-equipped to deal with such extensive damage, Slabbert was transferred to a hospital in Kimberley. With every minute vital, one of the ambulance’s tyres bursting was the last thing Slabbert needed.

Upon arrival, the doctors worked feverishly to do all they could to preserve not just Slabbert’s leg but his life.

“”The doctors began operating and did try to save the leg but given how much blood I’d lost, saving my leg was secondary to saving my life,” Slabbert recalls.

“On the second day after the accident, I’d developed gangrene which put my kidneys under pressure and my Dad told me they’d need to amputate the leg.”

Seven days in the hospital followed before a laborious rehabilitation process during which Slabbert began adapting to wearing and functioning with a prosthetic leg.

Slabbert may have lost his leg but what he hadn’t lost was his love of golf, first cultivated by hitting golf balls around his family farm.

“I just wanted to get back to playing golf and through a lot of effort I was able to start chipping again.”

It took the better part of seven months for the wound on Daniel’s stump to heal and afford him the opportunity to begin piecing together his golf game again.

Piece it together he most certainly did…

When this writer first joined the South African Disabled Golf Association back in 2018, I heard a number of stories about a leg-amputee from a remote part of the Northern Cape who’d enjoyed tremendous success in the South African Disabled Golf Open, winning four titles in five years from 2011. The buzz around Slabbert at the time was in stark contrast to his quiet departure from the SADGA spotlight and competitive golf for the disabled altogether soon after.

As time went on, Slabbert took on a mythical quality in my mind and it wasn’t until 2023 that the once-dominant player made his return. The competitive landscape had changed in his absence, the annual SA Disabled Golf Open replaced by the 4-event SADGA Open Series.

What hadn’t changed was Slabbert’s ability to win. He emerged victorious in both the NOMADS Joburg Disabled Open and the Jedeal Construction Disabled Open in 2023, by three and eight strokes respectively. Like he never left.

Slabbert’s results may not have changed over time but what had changed was his mindset.

“When you are young you aren’t really bothered when things don’t go your way on the course, you’re just happy to be in competitions.”

“I call it playing ‘young and dumb’ whereas nowadays especially through the coaching I do, I think about the game in a different way and play according to whether I have my A, B or C game.”

Coaching commitments mean that time isn’t always on Slabbert’s side as far as prepping for an event goes. 

His travel arrangements will preclude him from playing a practice round ahead of the Country Club Johannesburg Disabled Open. Not necessarily a bad thing. 

“When you play it’s sometimes better to not think, just do. Sometimes I think it’s better to switch off and use the capability I have at the moment and play the young and dumb golf again,” he says.

Now’s as good a time as any to return to a strategy that’s worked for Slabbert time and again. 

Photo: Nic Bothma/ Matrix Images


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