Tuesday, 12 January 2010
As Irish professional Darren Clarke gave the Executive Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Councillor Amos Masondo, a quick lesson during the official development clinic for the Joburg Open on Tuesday, the mayor recalled how as a young caddie he never dreamed of receiving a personal golf lesson from a Ryder Cup legend.
Clarke joined a group of Sunshine Tour and European Tour professionals at the Alexandra Driving Range, where about 80 children from the surrounding area were given a basic introduction to the game.
And Clarke teed off his demonstration with a quick lesson for the Mayor, who started his passion for golf as a caddie at Glendower Golf Club.
“When I was a boy, a friend of mine whose mother was a domestic worker in the suburbs invited me to become part of a team of youngsters who became caddies at Glendower Golf Club,” Masondo said.
“It was exciting being introduced to the game. That’s why I feel so strongly about making the Joburg Open more than just a tournament, but using it to leverage resources and ensure that the game of golf is further developed and broadened, especially in communities such as Alexandra Township.”
And after a few swings and a bit of correction here and there, Clarke seemed satisfied that the Mayor would more than hold his own in Wednesday’s official pro-am.
“The Mayor’s game looks fine. I think his only problem was his tie kept getting in the way. But he swings it pretty good and hits it well,” said Clarke, who through his Darren Clarke Foundation does a phenomenal amount of work for junior golfers in Ireland. He has also been involved in development initiatives in South Africa.
“I’m amazed at how much natural talent there is here, and how much they love the game. I’ve been coming to South Africa for the last 21 years and I’ve got a lot of friends here. The South Africans and the Irish seem to get along very well, and the country has been very good to me.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and all of the great South African golfers. This week I played with one of my all-time heroes Simon Hobday and had a great time with him. And I’ve seen a lot of kids here today who can help keep South African golf at the forefront of the game.”
Sidney Mahlangu, a 12-year-old from Alexandra, was one of those who benefitted from the professional instruction. But while he may still be struggling to keep his head down, he certainly wasn’t lacking in confidence.
“At first I was scared of the game. Now I’m a champion,” he told his instructor. “You’ll see, I’ll hit it to the 300 metre mark. I want to turn professional, and you’ll see, I’ll win trophies, medals and all that stuff.”