Golf

Soweto gets into the swing of things

2017-04-23 06:13
(Andy Astfalck, NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Johannesburg - Now that the Soweto Country Club has officially been declared a venue for the Joburg Open Pro-Am, the Women’s Professional Golf Association (WPGA) has expressed a desire for a top women’s tournament to be staged there in the not too distant future.

It was a moment of pride for one of the country’s oldest courses in February when the Sunshine and European tours held their first pro-am at the course, which is situated in Pimville. This came after the two-day contest being played before the Joburg Open was called off because of heavy rain at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club.

Thanks to the rain, the City of Joburg was able to make the co-sanctioned event more inclusive and move it to Soweto.

Professional events

The Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies’ Tour professionals joined the club’s amateurs, various business leaders and government dignitaries in the competition.

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba announced that the pro-am would be played in Soweto in future.

Now the WPGA would also like to have one of its events staged in the township.

WPGA spokesperson Barbara Pestana said: “Some of our women played at the pro-am in Soweto. It will therefore be nice for one of our professional events to be taken there soon.”

Some of the big tournaments played under the WPGA banner include the SA Women’s Open, the SA Women’s Masters, the Joburg Ladies’ Open and the Ladies’ Tshwane Open.

The Women’s Open took place at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club from March 5 to 7, while the pro-am was contested at the same course two days earlier.

“It would be nice if one of these events is played in Soweto. We saw raw talent from golf development in Soweto when our players competed in the pro-am,” said Pestana.

Watching top players

Ntombi Mabuza, a coach from Soweto, is one of the rising stars who came through the development ranks in the township.

“It would be great to have a big women’s championship played in Soweto in future. There is an abundance of talented players who are keen to see their heroines in action in Soweto,” said Mabuza.

The club was relaunched by Mashaba last month.

If Soweto can lure big WPGA events, golf lovers can look forward to watching top players, including Lee-Anne Pace, Ashleigh Buhai, Nobuhle Dlamini and Francesca Cuturi, in action.

The clubhouse has also been given a facelift.

Justice Matshaya, the club’s public relations officer, said: “The greens are in pristine condition and golfers can compete well on all 18 holes. It would be good for the township if a top women’s event is staged in Soweto.

“The course has been revamped to compete with some of the best in the country. The only thing that it still needs is a fence around it.”

Situated between Eldorado Park and Pimville, the Gary Player-designed club was established by black professionals, including golfers Solly Sepeng, Theo Manyama and Vincent Tshabalala, in 1974.

It had no proper fairways and the greens were made of sand.

Golfers from different unions or associations fought for the use of the facility simply because it was the only one used by black golfers.

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