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A really special D.O.G.

Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 08:11

Greetings from Stellenbosch Golf Club Thursday, 10 August 2017

Dear Reader,

Once again I have the privilege of writing this newsletter, so again I will make the most of it! First of all, we hope all the women were spoilt today! Our ladies enjoyed their "Mary queen of Scots' day on Tuesday, and that report will appear in next week's newsletter, all I can say for now - ladies you looked stunning!

In this newsletter - A really special journey; A really special D.O.G; and Progress on the range:

A really special journey

Some of you may already have seen some of the feedback on social media from this incredible and inspirational journey I was privileged enough to be a part of. After a 35 hour trip, I joined Stellenbosch Golf Club member Garrett Slattery in the picturesque town of Creston, British Columbia, Canada, to prepare for the 2017 ISPS Handa Vision Cup, a tournament at which the top visually impaired golfers and guides in the world compete against each other in teams based on the Ryder Cup format. The teams are North America (USA & Canada) vs Rest of the World (RoW). This was the third edition of this heartwarming event, the first of which took place in Atlanta, Georgia, USA in 2013 and the second one in Italy in 2015. The RoW Teams had won both editions going into this one, so the North Americans were definitely ready to throw everything but the kitchen sink at us this time!

Prof Garrett Slattery, a member of Stellenbosch Golf Club and the highest ranked visually impaired golfer in SA, also happened to be the Captain of the RoW team, which included players from South Korea, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, England, Australia and Israel. On Thursday 20 July, the practice day took place at which the members of Creston Golf Club went out of their way to help inform the players and their guides as much as possible on how best to negotiate the tricky holes at this visually stunning course situated in the biggest valley I have ever seen, in the form of a friendly alliance competition.

It is both heartbreaking and inspirational that these golfers cannot see the stunning courses and surrounds they play on, but they certainly don't let that fact get in the way of their enjoyment of this great game!

The definite highlight of this day was that, standing on the top-most tee of the course with the most spectacular views, I pondered asking the members how often if at all they get to see a bear, as up to then not many whom I had asked had even seen one in their lives, and this was certainly bear country!

Just as that thought had crossed my mind, somebody shouted "BEAR"! Not quite believing it at first, sure enough a mother Brown Bear and her two cubs crossed the two fairways in front of us, about a solid seven iron away! The group in front had not even noticed, and when we had informed them of the situation, play suddenly sped up incredibly! The situation was handled very well and the pretty sign below remained posted at the club for the week!

Then it was onto business - two days of the Pinehurst format (a variation of Foursomes), followed by the final day of Singles Matchplay. I am glad to report that Garrett and myself won the first day's match by 8 & 7, as well as the Singles match by 3 & 2. On day two we unfortunately just did not have the momentum on our side. Excitingly the teams were all matched at 6 - 6 going into the final day. During the finals it was a to-and-fro affair until the result hinged on the final grouping of South Korean blind golfers and their guides! Their win on hole 18 led to an overall tie at 12-12, meaning as per the Ryder Cup format, team RoW got to retain the Cup as we had won it the last time around in Italy.

All I can say is that, as mentioned, it is so inspiring to see these golfers not letting their limitations stop what golf should be all about - enjoyment, fun and the thrill of competition.

We as a club can also be very proud of Garrett who led the team extremely proficiently.

Last but not least, Garrett and I are extremely thankful for the support we received from everyone at Stellenbosch Golf Club, and we have to mention Kurth Geiger in particular who generously sponsored the Club Putting Competition fundraiser as well as all the participants in that event, as well as the Boland Golf Union for their generosity. We are most grateful.

View the full report here.

Clockwise from top left: Some stunning views; the "Bear in Area" sign!; Garrett and yours truly with the 2017 Handa Vision Cup; the tee
from which we saw the bear and cubs; and Garrett and myself on Day 1 donning our Boland caps!

A really special D.O.G.

Written by Graham Webster, PGA Master Professional:

I have worked or been associated with Stellenbosch Golf Club for almost 30 years (29y11m). I arrived for my first day’s work at Stellenbosch GC on Monday the 15th September 1986 and I have seen and witnessed many changes to the club and personnel throughout these years.

I have had many students from the university work for me part time when I was running the golf operations at the club. Some of them have even turned professional and are working in the golf industry throughout South Africa.

Two of these "students" are now employed by the club to run the golf operations (Louis, Director of Golf & Erich, Head Teaching Professional).

Why am I writing this?
The PGA of South Africa have close to 600 members working in the South African Golf Industry. Each year the members nominate fellow members for annual awards.
Our favourite D.O.G.

This year we have expanded the awards from 2 to 5 categories as we have various avenues/facets members are employed in. They are: PGA Club Professional, PGA Management, PGA Coach, PGA Grow Golf & PGA Entrepreneur.

Each region's membership voted on their regional nominations in each of the 5 categories (in excess of 100 nominations country wide were received). The winner of each region (5 regions) in each category was then put on a national list for the whole PGA membership to vote on. There were 5 members in each of the categories.

The results have been communicated to the members this week. I am proud and pleased to say your PGA Professional Louis Destroo was voted the 2017 PGA Club Professional of the year.

We are very lucky to have someone of Louis' stature as our Director of Golf “DOG”! (although I prefer the title Golf Operations Director!).

In September one of the winners in the 5 categories will be voted PGA Professional of the year. On behalf of the members I would like to wish Louis the best of luck in taking the overall honour and the prestige to Stellenbosch Golf Club.

Graham Webster, PGA Master Professional.

From my side, I would also just like to mention here what a great colleague Louis is to be living the dream with at Stellenbosch Golf Club. Here's holding thumbs for the overall award D.O.G!

Progress on the range

Most of you (that practice!) would have seen by now that the range building's construction is advancing. The cement foundation is now just about ready to be laid. Needless to say, this has me very excited just thinking about the possibilities of making your range experience a really world-class one, and hopefully seeing more of you on the range! From the next newsletter onward, I will again be bringing you more about Flightscope technology which is making such a difference in my teaching already.

A very promising sight

Enjoy the US PGA and see you on the course!