DURBAN (8 January 2014) – Four-time European Tour champion Branden Grace was all fired up to instruct a group of South African Golf Development Board learners on the basic skills of golf during a development clinic at Durban Country Club on Wednesday.
Instead, the 2012 Volvo Golf Champions winner found himself with very little to do.
“I was all geared up to impart my skills to these kids, but boy, they just floored me with their talent,” said an astounded Grace.
“I actually found myself with very little to do. They have been taught the basics very well and it was just amazing to stand there and watch them hitting balls down the driving range with such precision.
“They are a really talented bunch, and if these kids stay with it and keep practicing, our country will definitely have a rich golfing future.”
The 30 learners that attended the clinic were aged between 11 and 18 and are enrolled in the SAGDB programmes in Cato Crest, KwaMashu, Umhlali and Shakaskraal.
Regional manager Joseph Kunene was amused by Grace’s reaction and said that being in the presence of such a young world beater inspired the learners to greater heights.
“They definitely pulled out their best shots to impress Branden,” Kunene said. “There was great excitement when they learned that he was going to host this year’s development clinic, because he is a player they can really relate to.
“South Africa has a slew of top champions, from Gary Player to Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, but it is hard for the youngsters to relate to players that enjoyed their heyday before they were even born.
“Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden are still young enough to be held up by these youngsters as the players they strive to become. I think Branden’s open, friendly nature endears him a lot to the young golfers and he has definitely inspired a whole generation of potential champions with his performances in the last two years.”
The learners had the chance to show off their skills and ask Grace for some advice.
“A few asked advice on the swing, grip or stance, but mostly they wanted to know what it takes to win,” the 25-year-old from George said.
“I told them that hard work and perseverance is the way to go. Practice, practice, practice and never give up on yourself or the game.
“I recently ran into one of the SAGDB learners who attended my press conference after I won the Volvo Golf Champions at Fancourt. He was practising and we got chatting. He told me that he was down to a two handicap and his goal this year was to get to scratch.
“Then he said that my victory at Fancourt was his inspiration to make it to the pro tour one day. Nothing can give you greater joy that the knowledge that you have impacted so positively on somebody’s life.”
Grace, who also won the Joburg Open, Volvo China Open and Alfred Dunhill Championship in 2012, will be hunting his second Volvo Golf Champions title when the $4-million European Tour season-opener tees off at Durban Country Club from 9-12 January.