28 September 2021 – In a few years’ time, South Africa will be blessed with a new doctor and a new teacher. They will help to take South Africa forward in two of the most critical fields in this country. And a golf development manager will smile, because he knows they represent the true power of golf to change people’s lives.
At the Stellenbosch Golf Club on Tuesday, Shawn Adriaanse, the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) Manager for the Boland Region, stood on the driving range as a few of the young golfers in this chapter took part in a golf clinic with the Sunshine Tour professionals during the Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament.
“For these kids it’s a wonderful opportunity to see how the pros practice and for them to do the same. It gives them something they can work with on the range. And for them to interact with the pros at these Vodacom Origins events is great because they see them on TV and read about them, and now they’re meeting them in person and learning from them,” said Adriaanse.
Some of these golfers are only beginning their journey with the SAGDB, an organisation launched in 1999 as the vision of businessman Johann Rupert to use golf as a powerful vehicle for change in disadvantaged communities. Since 1999, the SAGDB has done this for countless individuals in its role as the official body for all development initiatives within South African golf.
But beyond producing better golfers, the SAGDB’s greater impact has been the role it has played in redefining what true sports transformation means. It’s an impact that quietly works itself out over lifetimes. And in this instance, in the lives of Crystal and Riaan Beukes.
The 18-year-old Crystal Beukes is in her last year with the SAGDB, having been identified and invited to join as a nine-year-old. Next year she will head to the University of Stellenbosch to study medicine. Her brother Riaan also came through the SAGDB, and he is currently studying to become a teacher. And their mother, Lorna, who attended the clinic on Tuesday, has seen in the lives of her children the difference golf has made.
“To have been part of the SAGDB has made a big difference in Crystal’s life. She’s learnt to be independent, how to get along with people of different backgrounds, and it’s just made her a stronger person. Her brother Riaan started it all. He started playing golf at age seven and was part of the SAGDB and then later the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation. Crystal used to follow him to the golf course, and then she started herself. The SAGDB is incredible, and they support the children 100 per cent,” said Beukes.
Both her children represent exactly what the SAGDB seeks to achieve, namely not just to produce better golfers, but to hopefully produce better South Africans.
“The SAGDB has done so much for me. I also now see so many primary school kids in the SAGDB and how golf is helping them to reach their full potential. It’s beautiful to see. You meet a lot of people through golf, and from different backgrounds. It teaches you to respect people, and also to accept who you are. Now I’m really looking forward to this next phase in my life,” said Crystal.
In describing what it takes to win Majors, Jack Nicklaus once said, “Great things require great people”.
And if you use golf correctly to make great people, they will do great things.