19 January 2015 – The South African Golf Association (SAGA), in association with the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB), will launch a South African National Golf Squad programme following a crucial and timely sponsorship of a R10-million from business leader, Johann Rupert.
“This is a very exciting development for our emerging men’s and women’s talent,” said SAGA president, Gerhard Conradie.
“We have been working tirelessly towards the formation of a National Golf Squad programme for some years and we are absolutely delighted to realise this vision in conjunction with the SAGDB, thanks to the generosity of Mr Rupert.
“We will select a 25 amateurs from the SAGA, Women’s Golf South Africa and SAGDB pool to participate in the high performance programme that is aimed at enhancing the pipeline of able and prepared young amateurs.
“We are very concerned about the annual drain on the amateur ranks and the purpose of the squad is to ensure that our most talented players remain in the amateur game. The sponsorship will aid us in keeping the players in the amateur ranks until they are properly prepared to transition to the pro ranks.
“We are indebted to Mr Rupert for supporting this initiative and for his continued support in the growth and the development of the game at all levels in South Africa.”
SAGDB managing director Grant Hepburn added that the sponsorship is vital to sustain the high performance programme on ongoing basis.
“SAGA and the SAGDB wanted to select a national squad of top amateurs, but we also wanted to identify younger players for union squads that could feed into the main squad to create continuity,” Hepburn said.
“This sponsorship enables us to select both a national squad and junior players from the union squads that will transition into the main squad
“The SAGDB has always strived to keep our top performers motivated and incentivised to remain in the programme and we now have the vehicle to ensure their longevity in the amateur game.”
Conradie explained that South African National Golf Squad programme will be run by SAGA, in conjunction with the SAGDB.
“The SAGDB received the sponsorship from Mr Rupert and will therefore be actively involved in channelling the funds and through participation in the programme, which is fully encompassing,” Conradie said.
“The players selected for the South African National Golf Squad programme will receive financial assistance for coaching, travel and tournament fees.
“The programme will also comprise regular camps on coaching, nutrition, fitness, sport phycology and other aspects that will help develop and enhance their careers.
“We will use the best coaches and facilities for the players. In cases were players already work with their own coaches, we will incorporate those coaches into the coaching team to allow for continuity.”
Hepburn, who will run the project in association with the SAGA team, added that the players will be further incentivised by international events.
“We intend to take the South African National Golf Squad abroad to participate in the top amateur events to expose them to international players and further enhance their level of experience,” he said.
“Thanks to Mr Rupert’s continued generosity the country can now afford a program that will help prepare our best players for international competition.
“At an amateur level, we will be able to develop teams that can compete against the best in the world. We will be able to properly prepare our top players for the professional ranks by giving them all the tools from coaching to preparation to media training, fitness and nutrition advice.
“It’s a very exciting project, because we have so much talent in this country and we are delighted to finally be in a position to help nurture that talent and take these players to the highest level.”
Sunshine Tour chief executive Selwyn Nathan also welcomed the South African National Golf Squad programme.
“This is a very positive step for the development of South Africa’s emerging talent,” Nathan said.
“Each year we welcome the top amateurs into the professional circuit, but we watch with concern how they struggle to adjust to the paid ranks.
“The elements contained in the South African National Golf Squad programme will deliver more developed, mature and prepared golfers to the Sunshine Tour,
“It is fantastic to see the amateurs bodies working together to sustain our talent and we are incredibly excited to see this programme get off the ground.”
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association and the South African Golf Development Board.