With a career that spans three decades and a passport filled with international stamps, professional LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) champion, Sally Little, one of South Africa’s finest golfers, has returned home with the desire to pay her success forward and bring the game to young South Africans.
Little’s love of golf began long before she put ball to tee. As a young girl her father bribed her to caddy for him during his regular weekend game of golf with friends. She officially started playing at the age of 12 and by 17 had claimed more than a dozen regional and national amateur titles. In 1971, Little won the South African Match Play and Stroke Play titles at the World Amateur Team Championship. After tying for 5th place in the Lady Carling Open, she decided to turn professional, leaving South Africa to qualify and play in the LPGA Tour.
It was a decision that changed her life. Since 1976 when she won her first LPGA event she went on to win 15 titles and 2 USA majors, including her first major title, the LPGA Championship in 1980. For the next ten years, she was consistently ranked top five in the world. She has won two Majors, the last being the Du Maurier, the Canadian Women’s Championship in 1988. She is recognised by LPGA as one of its top all-time players and teachers.
Little continues to compete on the Legends Tour, the official LPGA senior division tour, which represents some of the most talented and memorable female golfers in the history of the game.
Little’s competitive ability is matched by her passion for teaching and her return to South Africa has been marked by her involvement in junior and amateur golf development through her charitable trust – the Little Golf Trust.
Capturing the Fire perfectly illustrates Sally’s belief: “’Junior golf has always been my passion but our coaching is 40 years behind. We don’t have the facilities that you have here [US] and it really needs a lift,’ she said.
‘Our kids need to see the talent that is out there,’ Little insisted. ‘South Africa is so far away that a lot of the talented youngsters have no one to look up to. Our young people need to be playing alongside players of their own ages from other countries, and to raise the bar. They need to realise how much harder they have to work to have an opportunity to play great golf.’”
“Through the game of golf, the Little Golf Trust hopes to educate and empower the previously disadvantaged, with emphasis on young women. Golf is a powerful medium to teach life skills such as honesty, integrity, respect, co-operation, perseverance, concentration and self-motivation. In South Africa too many young women have been left behind and not afforded the many opportunities that golf presents,” says Little.
Capturing the Fire further emphasises: “When Sally decided to return to South Africa in 2006, she hit the ground running with her active involvement in various initiatives in golf development. The then Deputy President of South Africa, Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, acknowledged the role of Sally Little in her opening address at the Women’s World Cup of Golf in Sun City on 17 January 2007:
“In South Africa we have seen a growing number of women golf players and this event contributes towards an awareness and love of the game.”
‘We salute the role and contribution of Sally Little who [helped in] bringing this tournament to South Africa and has returned to South Africa from the United States of America to settle in her land of birth and will be investing in the development of young talent in golf and is involved in the development of a golf course.’
In a sport dominated by men, women’s golf has a long history of determined women battling it out on the golf course whilst also fighting to gain acceptance and respect from their male counterparts in the clubhouse. Although the sport remains male-centric, women’s golf is beginning to move into the lime-light, with an increase in exposure and competitions. Unfortunately, off the back of financial controversy seven years ago, women’s golf has battled to secure major corporate sponsorship. However Little, together with Unimedia Pro, hope to spearhead a new era of women’s golf in South Africa, free of negative associations.
In a celebration of women’s golf, Little is joined by SA’s current number 1 and LPGA and Ladies European Tour player, Lee Ann Pace at the Little Pace Challenge 2016, on 2 August 2016 at the Pearl Valley Golf & Country Estate.
Little’s is a life to inspire and now in partnership with Unimedia, her life is to be documented both in her biography, “Capturing the Fire”, and a biographical documentary, of the same name, that will be screened later this month on SuperSport.
The book launch will be held over a series of golf invitationals across South Africa:
- 21 September – Blue Valley, Midrand
- 4 October – The Metropolitan and The Table Bay Hotel
- 28 November – Pink Stig Pro-Am – Sun City
“I’m excited about the book and the book launches. It was difficult for me to open up about my private life but Adli Jacobs, the author, really understood me and was able to make me comfortable throughout the process. “Capturing the Fire” is not just about golf, it’s about life, and I hope the book will inspire all young people to understand that it’s okay to take the step to pursue and fulfill their dreams,” said Little
“My gratitude and thanks goes out to Dhiren Mehta and Unimedia for their vision and wisdom. I do not think I would have embarked on this journey without them,” Little added.