September 2012

Shaw committed to the journey

13-year old Chandler Shaw has big dreams for his golf career

He knows he has a very long road ahead, but the SAGDB's Chandler Shaw is crystal clear about where he means to finish his golfing journey.

"I fell into golf by accident but it didn't take me long to realise that I love this game," says the 13-year-old from Mondeor in Johannesburg. "I definitely want to play professional golf, no doubt about it; I know that golf and I will have a very long partnership."

"I want to play on the PGA Tour and rank among the best players in the world."

Shaw's father, Wellington, explains that Chandler's love affair with golf started when he was just a young tyke.

"I had a weekly game with my older sons, Linleigh and Brenton, at Soweto Country Club. Chandler was about four years old and he used to bug us to tag along. Eventually I caved in and he would walk along, always watching, never complaining that he was tired or bored."

"But did he bug us to play! After about six months I got the message, got him some clubs and took him to the driving range. And since then, he has never lost his passion."

Shaw says he soon realised that his son could really play.

"As soon as I saw his swing, I knew. He had great focus and hand and eye coordination, even at an early age. He progressed so quickly that we entered him into Little Kids Golf tournaments and it wasn't long before he started winning."

Shaw was coached by Sipho Miya at Soweto Country Club between the ages of six and 10 and it was during this time that he came under the attention of Andy Ostle, the SAGDB's manager for Central Gauteng.

"At the time I was still working for Central Gauteng Golf Union and Chandler was part of a four-man team that represented Soweto Country Club in the Junior Schools League," Ostle explains. "I recognised that he was a distinct prospect for the future and when I joined the SAGDB last June, I persuaded Wellington to let him join the SAGDB programme. Chandler he has since flourished under the eye of our regional coach, Stephan van der Watt."

The young golfer made the Central Gauteng U-13 team last year, and this year, was selected to the U-15 team that took second place in the Inter-Provincial at Waterkloof. He was also selected to the SAGDB's Elite Squad in Central Gauteng and to top it off secured two B-Division victories on the Glacier Junior Series this year.

"The Glacier Junior Series is geared at giving the juniors a competitive platform to teach them how to cope with the pressure of tournaments," says Ostle. "Chandler has taken to this like a duck to water. He won the B-Division at the Thomas Aiken event at Wanderers by one shot, but he destroyed the competition at the Hettie Els Tournament, where he fired a 71 and won his division by 11 shots."

However, the budding golfer recognises that there is still a long road ahead.

"After Charl Schwartzel won the Masters, he came back to South Africa and he gave us a clinic at his Glacier Junior Series Tourmament at Maccauvlei," he explains. "He told us that the nature of golf is that you can never stop working; that you can never say that now you've done enough."

"Since I've been training with Stephan, I've brought my handicap down to seven but that's still a long way from playing off scratch. Stephan helped me to improve my swing and we work very hard on my short game, because chipping and putting is where the scoring happens."

"I'm also working with him to improve my mental game, because you have to keep a good attitude and not get down on yourself."

In the meantime, Wellington and mom Lea, are not pushing him.

"I play cricket, too and I'm in the band at school," says the Mondeor Primary School learner, who is a very useful batsman and plays the marimba and drums. But golf is his passion and he is set on a career in the industry.

"I hope to study further in the golf industry before I turn professional and give Charl (Schwartzel) and Louis (Oosthuizen) a run for their money," he says. "But that is still a long way into the future. Right now, I'm just working my way towards that goal."

And for the rest of the Shaw family, supporting the young prospect to realise his dreams has become their passion, too. "I played them all into retirement," jokes Shaw. "These days my dad and brothers just do the spectator shift."