A keen squash player prior to the accident, Van Niekerk turned his attention to another sporting pursuit- golf.
Former Botswana golfer and a friend of Van Niekerk’s – Keith Munger had built a 9-hole golf course around his farm and it was there that Van Niekerk first played the game. Munger helped teach Van Niekerk the basics of the game too.
Clearly the fundamentals Munger instilled were pretty sound as Van Niekerk once recorded a hole in one at Tantebane Golf Club’s par-3 18th, a short hole that plays over a dam. The ace even earned Van Nuekerk a story in Sports Illustrated magazine!
Having joined the SADGA six years ago, Van Niekerk was effusive in his praise for the work that the association does.
“It is uplifting and an absolute joy to be in the company of disabled people, enjoying companionship and playing a competitive sport where each of us isplaying very competitively and also against one’s own head. That is the difficult part – Your own head!
“I absolutely love the support SADGA gives towards the disabled players as well as the camaraderie.
“The work done with the First Swing is great too!”
Van Niekerk’s appearances in the first two Canon Open Series events have been his first taste of competitive disabled golf. Nevertheless he has acquitted himself well with a 4th-placed finish at the Canon Kwazulu-Natal Disabled Open before a share of sixth-place at the Cape Town Disabled Open hosted by the City of Cape Town.
Having turned his attention to the Canon Port Elizabeth Open – Van Niekerk is hoping for an improved short-game and putting performance as he targets a top-3 finish.
As is often said about golf, Van Niekerk pointed to a strong mental game as being the key to executing on his goals.
“I am happy so far but know that I can do better.
“It’s a head thing!”