Saturday, 6 November 2010
SAGDB technical director, Grant Hepburn, knows a promising golfer when he sees one. Earlier this year, he helped to select the best 25 golfers in the SAGDB's programme for their National Squad.
The 25 members hail from Boland, Border, Eastern Province, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Southern Cape and Western Province. Their ages range from 10 to 18 and their handicaps ran from an impressive four to as high as 21.
As a respected coach with clients on the PGA and European Tours, Hepburn knows that even the best sometimes need a little coaching, so in October he put the squad through their paces.
The learners travelled to the South African Golf Institute at The River Club in Mowbray where Hepburn had an extended look at their form and any fundamentals that needed correcting.
“I selected the children that showed the most potential in consultation with the regional coaches,” Hepburn explained. “Obviously we picked the best low handicappers, but we felt strongly that we should include the higher handicappers. They are very talented but too young to hit it far enough to be low handicappers and we felt strongly that they could really benefit at the camp.
“Some of the players need just a little tweaking, others have picked up some bad habits that need correcting and some need a bit more coaching. The training camp provided us with the opportunity to see them all in one session and give that some attention.
“It was also a chance for the learners to get to know each other and strike up some friendships.”
Over the course of four days, the learners took part in various sessions that included a 36-hole golf competition (split between Somerset West and Mowbray golf courses), assessment and coaching sessions, as well as a life skills training camp with Love Life.
“It was fantastic,” enthused 11-year-old Jamie Lee Daniels from Uitenhage.
The 19-handicapper has already represented Eastern Province in their Under-18 squad at the Hexangular earlier this year.
“The coach was happy overall, but he had some suggestions like turning my right hip more in the back swing so that I can complete my shoulder turn. When I got it right, I added a lot more power to my swing. I shot 96 the first day at Somerset West Golf Club but after my session, I shot 87 at Mowbray and I finished eighth in the competition.”
Western Province players made a clean sweep of the top three spots in the tournament, with Arno Titus ending in first place, Ruben Raubenheimer second and Aslam Mallick third. Arno, a three-handicapper, shot rounds of 71 and 80, while 10-handicapper Raubenheimer carded rounds of 76 and 77. 16-year-old Mallick shot 77 and 81 off his three-handicap.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Monique Ramkisoon finished in fifth behind Boland’s Dylan Jacobs.
“It was really informative,” said 17-year-old Ramkisoon, who took up golf four years ago and already plays off an eight handicap.
“The coach told me that my swing plane needs to be more inside and once we the club on a better plane, I could feel that my swing had more power.”
Hepburn said he was very impressed by the learners during the camp.
“I was so impressed by their commitment,” he said. “They all showed an incredible thirst to know more and learn more. Their passion bodes well for the future of golf in this country.”
The learners also enjoyed the life skills session with Love Life immensely.
“We ran a life skills session for two hours in our first camp and the kids complained it was too short, so this time we extended it to five hours and they still wanted more,” explained Andre Rossouw, the manager for Boland and Special Projects.
“The session included learning to be alert to influences, aids awareness and sexuality training. Most of the work was done with role playing and all the squad members were encouraged to join.”
For 18-year-old Solly Jonas, the training camp was an invaluable experience .
“I am still undecided about my golf career,” he explained. “I know that I want to further my studies, but I also believe I am good enough to play professional golf.
“The camp put things into perspective for me in a way. I can finish school this year, study and then turn pro because the golf will always be there, as long as you keep playing and keep improving.”