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May 2009

Success for golfing girls in Ekurhuleni

One of the key growth areas for the SA Golf Development Board's (SAGDB) is girls. With women's golf growing worldwide, the SAGDB is encouraging more girls to take up the sport and benefit from the life skills it teaches.

This approach is paying off in Ekurhuleni. For the first time since 2006 the region has two girls playing in Junior Golf Foundation tournaments. 13-year old Mapule Ditshego and 14-year old Lerato Mokou are testing their talents against the best young golfers in the region.

Lerato is an orphan from Kwa-Thema outside Springs and is raised by her grandmother, who is very conscious of protecting her from bad influences and the dangers on the streets. She is coached by Sam Mnguni, who is a friend of her family. She asked her grandmother to request that Sam enrol her into the SAGDB programme as she was keen to play the sport and improve her life.

"Lerato says golf is an art," relates the SAGDB's development manager for Ekurhuleni Thenjiwe Sithole. "Golf inspires her and it has taught her to be more disciplined and patient." Lerato is currently playing off a 30 handicap and has already won three C-division prizes in Foundation tournaments.

Mapule, who is coached by her father Paul, lives in Tsakane, Brakpan. She plays at Springs Golf Club, where she has brought her handicap down to 30. She has already won six prizes in the C-divisions of various Foundation tournaments.

"Her selection to the squad surprised her because she thought only boys made it," says Sithole.

Mapule became interested in golf as a toddler. She remembers imitating her father when he practised his swing in the garden. Her "club" was a wooden spoon from the kitchen.

She says that golf has helped her to focus and improved her concentration at school. She is excited about every chance she is given to play, and thinks the ladies golf apparel is "very trendy".

The SAGDB is committed to give more girls the chance to discover golf. We believe that every child has the right to develop to their full potential, and golf provides support and a positive avenue for some of the most vulnerable members of society to achieve that.

Lerato Mokou, 14, an orphan from Kwa Thema sees golf as an art form that has improved her life.