He may be missing two fingers on his left hand and a femur but with his trusty 4-iron in hand, Morne Cronje doesn’t miss many fairways. He habitually hits it past his driver-wielding playing partners, never missing an opportunity to rub it in, either. Trust me I know! But in the same breath he never misses an opportunity to offer a smile and word of encouragement. I’d contend that Cronje’s 4-iron is some kind of unfair performance-enhancer. What certainly isn’t contentious is that Morne Cronje is a true asset to the South African Disabled Golf Association.
While Cronje has figured out a winning formula to stripe 4-irons off the tee, he hasn’t actually figured out the exact term for his disability.
“I am still not sure what the official medical term for my disability is. My left leg is missing its femur, so just the below-knee part is connected to my hip,” Cronje explains.
“My left hand only has three fingers, but it is perfectly formed. I wear a full-length prosthesis, without a prosthetic knee.”
It’s frightening to think how good Cronje would be with a full complement of fingers or a second “good” leg for that matter! He is always in the Top-10 of the Physically-Disabled Medal division at SADGA events and has been a fixture of Pieter Verwey’s Team South at the SADGA Provincial Challenge for years.
At these events Cronje and fellow leg-amputee Trevor Reich are practically joined at the hip, playing many a practice round together and forming a potent combination at the Provincial Challenge. But one year at Magalies Park Golf Estate, Morne temporarily shelved trying to team with Trevor to get one-up on the opposition, choosing to get one-up on Reich instead!
“During the final round of the SA Disabled Open one year at Magalies, I pulled my tee-shot into the fairway bunker. As I stepped into the bunker to play my shot, the pipe joining my socket and foot snapped off and I went down, as Trevor put it, like a sack of potatoes!
“Poor Trevor went pale and started to panic. Believe it or not, this was not the first time this has happened to me on the golf course, so I had my tools and spare pipe handy.
Not completely surprised by the events, I managed to fix my leg in the buggy and off we went. I can’t remember if I managed par on the hole though, most probably not!”
Well done to Morne for doing what so many other SADGA members (this writer included) have tried and failed to do: Quieten Reich, albeit temporarily!
Cronje is part of the furniture at the SADGA, but when did he join and what has he enjoyed most about his long-standing membership?
“My first open was at Erinvale 2008, so the year before that, around 2007.
I enjoy the camaraderie and friendships that I have made over the years.”
With the Cape Town Disabled Golf Open hosted by The City of Cape Town headed for his home course, King David Mowbray, a course offering plenty of opportunities for long-irons off the tee, one would fancy Cronje to be in the hunt but the man himself is coy about his chances.
“My golf has not received the attention it deserves over the last few years.
I am not going into the tournament with high expectations.”
I, like my fellow members I’m sure, am not buying it. Morne is known for extended periods of golf hibernation only to return to the course and have his fellow competitors wishing he’d stay away.
Whatever happens, rest assured Cronje will be pulling 4-iron on every tee, hitting it past his playing partners with nauseating regularity, smiling as he does so!
Photo: Nic Bothma