November 2013

New chapter at Eagle Canyon

In recent years Eagle Canyon Country Club has become one of Johannesburg's premier golf getaways. Located at the site of an old granite and sand quarry on the West Rand, the club has blossomed into a beautifully-kept and superbly-run facility.

Last month Eagle Canyon added to its credentials by opening an SAGDB chapter at the club. Supported by the Eagle Canyon Estate, the chapter already has 80 youngsters taking part in the coaching programme.

"Eagle Canyon's director of golf Dave Christie approached me for assistance in setting up a development programme on behalf of the estate," explains the SAGDB's development manager for Central Gauteng, Andy Ostle. "He then got the buy in of two local primary schools who were happy to have golf become part of their sports curriculum."

The two schools, Kingsway Primary and Boskop Primary, each put around 40 children into the programme. Most of them live in the nearby Diepsloot township.

The youngsters have been attending coaching sessions run by Eagle Canyon's resident pro Evan Du Plessis and fellow PGA teaching professional Shane Scheepers.

"On top of the two PGA professionals to teach the youngsters, Eagle Canyon also provides the practice facilities and the golf course itself will be available to them when they are ready to progress to playing," Ostle explains. "They also have in-house transport facilities to ferry the youngsters between the estate and their schools."

The SAGDB's role in the chapter is to provide experience in expertise in running the programme and linking it to the national coaching structures endorsed by the PGA of South Africa.

"Together, I'm sure we can make this a very successful chapter," Ostle says. "Eagle Canyon already has sponsors coming in to help, such as Rawson Property Group who have sponsored ten 'Birdieball" units."

The units include hollow balls that allow for practising in smaller areas. Although the balls react the same as a normal golf ball, they do not travel more than 50 metres.

These sorts of initiatives make the future of this chapter look particularly promising.

"It's really important that we make these programmes sustainable," Ostle says. "As time goes on and the youngsters become better players, the costs will increase. That is because things like the expenses of travelling to play in tournaments, competition costs, clothing, balls and so on all need to be seen to. So these kind of sponsorships go a long way towards making things easier."

The chapter at Eagle Canyon is the sixth in Central Gauteng. The others are in Soweto, Diepkloof, Lyndhurst, Alberton and Sophiatown.