Professional Golf Association & Mzansi Golf: briefings on Developing Golf

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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


5 June 2007

Mr B Komphela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
SA Golf Development Board: General Overview
Proposal to Partner with Government in Developing “Mzansi Golf”

Audio Recording of the Meeting

There were two golf bodies in South Africa.  The Professional Golf Association looked after the interests of the professional players and had 400 members.  The South African Golf Association ran the amateur side of the game.  There were approximately 300 000 active players and 470 clubs.  It was hoped to expand this number to a million players, but the number of courses would have to double to accommodate this.  There were major investments in tourism and golf estates.  The two bodies had formed the South African Golf Development Board, which was spreading the game in previously disadvantaged areas.  It was important to produce black champion players to promote the game.  A lack of funds was restricting development in the rural areas.

Members questioned the lack of accessibility of the game.  There was only one golf course in a township, and more facilities were needed urgently.  However, there was a high cost in developing and maintaining a course, and it also occupied a large area.  Golf courses competed with housing requirements.  Although more black people were now enjoying the game, it was still out of the financial reach of many.  In some places, however, black people were excluded from golf clubs and this situation could not be tolerated.

Mzansi Golf wished to spread the game in disadvantaged communities.  Their means of achieving this was by building smaller courses on unused land.  These would be cheaper to maintain.  They hoped to provide both a recreational facility and to create jobs in the community.  Assistance from government would be needed, and the City of Johannesburg supported the project. 

Members were pleased with the Mzansi initiative, but still wondered how poor and underprivileged children were accommodated.  They were told that one of Par 3 courses would cost up to R7.5 million as opposed to the R25 million for a full course; and would occupy up to 12 hectares as opposed to the 80 hectares for a full course.  Members were concerned that the project was only in Gauteng, and told the company that a national roll out was needed before they could promote it countrywide.

The Chairperson noted that the meeting with rugby authorities would be held later. 

South African Professional Golf Association (PGA): Briefing
Mr Dennis Bruyns, Director, South African Professional Golf Association, explained that there were two golf governing bodies in South Africa.  The Professional Golf Association (PGA) organised all professional tournaments.  It was also responsible for coaching and business interests.  The PGA had about 400 members.  There were 300 members playing on the southern Africa tour.  This attracted the most coverage, and the PGA could be seen as the “glamour body”.

The Chairperson said the Committee should have interaction with both wings of the golfing fraternity.

Mr Bruyns said there was a division between amateur and professional bodies worldwide.  The South African structure followed international norms.  The vast majority of players were amateurs, and numbered approximately 300 000.  There were currently 470 clubs in the country, and another 30 courses were expected to be completed by 2010.  Half of the active players were club members.  The South African Golf Association (SAGA) was an oversight body, and was a member of international bodies.

The Chairperson remarked that SAGA was a member of the World Golf Association (WGA).  He noted that this was another world body based in the United States.

Mr Bruyns agreed that this was an American trend. The WGA worked closely with the Royal and Ancient Club in the United Kingdom, which was the other international governing body. There was a loose affiliation.  15% of the players in South Africa were female.  This was a growth area.  It was a game that catered for players from the ages of six to eighty, and was the game of a lifetime.  SAGA had two sub-bodies, dealing with the issues of women and youth respectively. 

Coaches were accredited members of the PGA and SACWA.  The PGA was affiliated to the European tour.  Many people were involved in the business of golf.  It was a major industry, worth $68 billion in the USA.  This was worth more than the gambling industry in that country.  South Africa had a wide exposure to travel and golf estates.  Of these, 30 were being developed in Gauteng.  Each of these had a golf component that was valued at R100 million representing an investment of R30 billion.

Mr Bruyns said the PGA looked towards training.  It was a window to the golf world.  A typical tournament had a field of 156 players and was held over four days.  After the second day, the field was reduced to 70.  The 86 eliminated players earned no prize money.  Even the top players went home penniless on occasion.  The South African tour hosted 40 tournaments, 30 of which took place during the winter.  These winter tournaments were seen as development events.  Some of the tournaments were major events and were part of the European tour.

Mr Bruyns said that the two separate bodies had reached a joint decision some ten years previously.  This decision had resulted in the establishment of the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB).  This body was tasked with the development of the game in the previously disadvantaged areas.  Eleven thousand scholars had been exposed to the game.  The SAGDB employed between 50 and 60 coaches who were introducing the game and its ethics to these children.  The ethics were primarily based on complete honesty and integrity.  A structure was in place to identify talent.  The South African Golf Foundation was bringing in better players.  Players were in the development programme until the age of eighteen, after which they fell under other bodies.  The SAGDB had other training programmes, and was upskilling caddies as well.  The PGA was the leader in terms of education.  European standards were followed. Financial aid had been received from the lottery in 2006.  Information pamphlets had been distributed.

Mr D Lee (DA) said that South African golfers were good ambassadors and were doing the country proud.  He was from northern Port Elizabeth, which was a vast area, and the game of golf was expanding everywhere.  The problem he found was that he had to travel miles to find a golf course.  In Germany there were many municipal courses.  He asked what the PGA intended doing to make the game more accessible.  He asked how many golf academies existed, and where they were located.

Mr J Masango (DA) noted that there had been development programmes at eleven schools.  He asked in which areas this had happened.  There was no sport at all in some areas.  He asked how many women were involved.

Mr A Mlangeni (ANC) asked about the relationship between Mzansi golf and the SAGA. There had to be facilities in the area where the children lived.  It was difficult for them to travel from Soweto to Houghton.  White youth enjoyed the privilege of having golf courses close at hand.  He asked what the SAGDB was doing about pushing municipalities to create facilities in the townships.  The Soweto Country Club was the only township course.  Another problem was the lack of equipment.

The Chairperson said that Mzansi Golf would make a presentation later.

Mr Bruyns said that the question of facilities had been raised before.  This was the biggest challenge facing the SAGDB.  Many of the 500 courses were small courses in rural areas.  A high percentage of the courses were in urban areas.  Most of these were privately owned, and there were few public courses.  Of the rounds played, 40% were by non-members.  These generally happened in quiet times at the clubs when non-members could be accommodated.  There were three public courses in Johannesburg.  However, a sign of changing times was that the 100 thousand rounds played on these courses had now been reduced to 20 thousand.  Property development was one of the factors encroaching onto the public courses.

He said that two new public courses had been planned, but these projects had both been stalled.  One would have been in Soweto and the other near Alexandra.  Each of these would cost about R25 million, but the initial development had been stalled.  It would be two to three years before anything might happen.  Apart from the development costs, it took between R3 million and R4 million to maintain a course per annum.

Mr Bruyns said that in the USA, 80% of courses were open to the public on a pay-and-play basis.  This was also the case in Scotland, the home of golf.  The SAGDB was negotiation with facilities to get more accommodation for developing players.  Clubs were making a major contribution.  Gauteng clubs donated R1 to SAGDB for each round played.  Access remained a problem.  As an interim measure players were being taught on school fields or other open areas using special balls which did not travel as far as conventional golf balls.  Players were also taken to driving ranges.  The lack of proper facilities was a long term problem.  It took three years to develop a new course, and a full course occupied some 80 hectares.

He said that there were various academies, several of which catered for skilled and elite players.  There were some that also catered for the more average player.  The SAGDB had its beginnings in previously disadvantaged areas.  The talent there was being absorbed into other areas.  There were many programmes to identify talent.  However, a player only reached his peak between the ages of 30 and 40.  This meant that player development was a long term process.  There were many talented young players, and he believed several would break through in time.  One of these was James Kante.

Mr Bruyns said that coaches were being educated to identify talent.  As their skills improved they might choose to open their own academies.  The game needed to become self-sustaining. 

Of the players in South Africa, 15% were ladies.  The same situation probably applied in the United Kingdom.  In Europe the ratio of male to female players was 60:40 and in the USA 70:30.  South Africa had won the last World Cup.  He noted that golf could be a family game.

Mr Bruyns said that there was no existing relationship between the SAGDB and Mzansi.  However, they were always willing to work with partners.  The bigger the game the better it would be for all, but there should not be a duplication of effort.  The eleven thousand scholars were from 46 different chapters.  There was a regional structure.  Each chapter covered four or five schools, and about 200 schools were involved.  There were various levels of development.  There were 152 golfers in the programme during May.

Mr Mlangeni feared that the Council had taken part of the Soweto Country Club for housing.  These houses were of poor quality, and several were unoccupied.  The province would have to extend the course, even to the N1 highway.  This might make the course accessible to white people as well.  An amount of R42 million had been set aside to develop the course. The agreement was waiting to be signed.  He asked if the SAGDB could intervene.  The municipality maintained the course.  The machinery involved had been handed over to the club; therefore they were not starting from scratch.

Mr Bruyns said that the SAGDB would intervene.  There had been some controversy, related to the Huddle Park issue in Johannesburg.  He feared that some golf requirements might be overlooked.

The Chairperson said that this showed the extent of the passion of golfers.

Mr Lee asked about lottery funding, and asked if the SAGDB had applied for funding or some other interested body.  This might possibly promote accessibility.

Mr Bruyns said that the SAGDB had made an application to the lottery in 2006, specifically for the payment of coaches.  There had been a further application for lottery funding.  This would be used for education.

Mr Mlangeni said that golfers were badly neglected.  Another course was needed in Soweto.

Mr Bruyns had played on the course and was aware of its condition.

The Chairperson asked if equipment would be provided.  He needed to ask this question to put some meat on the bones of the presentation.

Mr Masango said that finding land for golf courses was one of the biggest challenges.

The Chairperson agreed that there was no land in the urban areas.  There was a lot of open ground in provinces such as Mpumalanga, Limpopo, the Northern Cape and the Free State.  The development of golf courses in these areas would be a huge boost.

Mr E Saloojee (ANC) said that he had a very personal involvement with golf.  There was a driving range in Kensington, Johannesburg.  It was an expensive game, however.  As a Member of Parliament he enjoyed the privilege of being an honorary member at many courses.  An exciting aspect of transformation was the emergence of the Black middle class.  It was an expensive game, but was a good way to encourage young people to exercise.  He was excited to see the number of black people on the golf courses and driving ranges.  It was no longer an elitist game. The SAGDB should negotiate with courses in order to promote development.  Trainers should be present.  It was still an obstacle for historically disadvantaged South Africans (HDSA’s) to afford a round of golf, and it was impossible to join a club at a reduced cost.

Mr T Louw (ANC) said there was not enough land for housing, let alone golf courses.  Four provinces had been mentioned in the regions where development was happening, namely KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, Free State and Eastern Cape.  He asked if this was linked to the number of schools, and what was happening in the other five provinces.  He asked how long it would take to develop a golfer to the standard of Ernie Els or Retief Goosen.

Mr C Frolick (ANC) appreciated the frank discussion.  He was often confronted by various federations on the lack of facilities, especially compared to the luxury enjoyed by some codes.  It was good to hear about the various programmes.  There were many golf estates on the south coast.  Black players needed to benefit from an assisted process.

Mr Bruyns said that the SAGDB had suffered from the withdrawal of sponsors.  This had forced cutbacks in the rural areas.  The chapters had been consolidated, and there was a concentration on areas needing redevelopment.  He was aware of the problems in the rural areas.  It was becoming more and more difficult to compete for space in the urban areas.  He agreed that there was a high cost to the average player.  The game was expensive because of the high maintenance costs for the upkeep of facilities.  Some strategies were in place, but it was mainly a deadlock situation.  Partnerships were needed with government at various levels.  This was a primary challenge.

He continued that even more private courses were being developed.  A meeting had been held, and one of the suggestions was that developers should include a public course in their plans.  This would require regional and national support.  The game would be expanded if this became a reality. 

Mr Bruyns said that most young people took up the game because their parents played as well.  There was an ethos of continuity.  Champions tended to come from a golfing community.  Some of the development players were children of caddies.  At the World of Golf in Johannesburg lectures were given on the rules and etiquette of the game.  The majority, perhaps 60%, of the audience was black and many were females.  This was a very encouraging sign.  There was a need for champion black players to emerge, and the development programme had unearthed several good black players. 

Looking at other countries, he said the biggest developments were in China, although this was mainly based on tourism.  Even in South Africa, some clubs were reliant on tourists.  This was not the case with all clubs.  The plan was to have a million active players by 2017.  This would require another 400 courses to be built to accommodate them all.  There was a wonderful base to work from.  South African players were doing well in international competition, and the facilities were wonderful.  The industry was growing.  He did not have statistics for the tourist industry, but he knew it was a major employer in the country.

The Chairperson said that golf had gone beyond expectations.  People were very passionate about the game, and constant interaction was needed.  Young players would become demoralised if they had nowhere to play.  A middle road had to be found.  The experience of other countries should be noted.  Sport was bringing people together despite their differences. It was a challenge to go to the neighbouring countries, and this should be on the NEPAD agenda.  South African golf authorities should look to Africa before looking to Europe.  The majority of the courses in the Free State were under municipal control.  They were leased to the people.  There was a huge course in Bloemfontein, but black people did not play there.  This had been the subject of a court case and an interdict had been granted.  Golf must not be a racist sport.  No black players were allowed at the course in Theunissen.  The course should be closed if this was the case.  It was almost acceptable to have pay and play courses.  The Committee was worried about the mushrooming academies.  Conditions were needed, and these had to be within the National Qualification Framework.  It was good to relate with what the government needed.  He asked how SAGDB envisaged a private / government partnership.  Issues had to be shared.  The development programme should be biased to the poor and undeveloped.  It was correct to say that caddies were good teachers.

Mr Saloojee said that he played often, mostly at the Observatory Golf Club in Johannesburg.  This course was located on council property.  Then the lease came to an end it had quietly been extended by 30 years.  The members and officials were all white.  The granting of the lease should have been conditional to the implementation of a development programme.

The Chairperson said this was another challenge.  Football grounds were leased for up to R150 thousand for a game, and this was done with the wrong intentions.

Mzansi Golf: Briefing
Mr Alfred Mzizi (Mzansi Golf) said that golf had been an issue at a previous meeting.  He introduced the members of the delegation from Mzansi Golf.

Mr Nikita Cindi said that Mzansi Golf was concerned at the low availability of courses and the cost of entry.  They wished to develop facilities in black areas.  They wanted to target the youth specifically.  It was their mission to develop community golf as part of the mass participation programme (MPP).  Their first project had been at Roosevelt Park.  This had been reduced from an eighteen hole course to a nine hole course.  It was now more accessible.  More young people were able to play.  At Westbury a driving range was being developed together with a Par 3 nine hole course.

He said that their values were to demystify the concept of golf.  They wished to develop a winning attitude in the community.  The principles of ubuntu should be upheld.  Results should come from change.  In principle they were driven by the government’s MPP.  They wished to establish business partnerships with social responsibility.  They emphasised youth development, female and disabled participation.

Mr Cindi said that the standard of facilities should be maintained. The maintenance of the Par 3 nine hole course was not as expensive as a full course.  It was a synopsis of golf.  They had looked at the statistics and costs.  Their style of course could be built on 15 hectares.  They wanted to build their courses next to the townships.  They were targeting wetlands, which were often misused and were the scene of illegal activities, and wanted to be dynamic by using land shunned by property developers.

Mr Cindi said that Mzansi Golf was a 100% South African company.  They planned mass participation as part of development, and wished to promote an inclusive society.  He presented a plan and objectives that incorporated a vision for 2020.  They wished to make Mzansi Golf a national brand with fifteen courses around the country.  They were starting in Gauteng.  They were working with 250 schools and part of their planning was assisting with poverty upliftment.  The maintenance of their courses would create jobs.  They planned to organise regional and international tournaments.  They were developing three facilities at present, and a roll out would follow.  They had enjoyed some success with the first two facilities.  Jobs had been created.  Clubs had donated.  There was improved security and infrastructure. 

Funding was a challenge, and they needed support from provincial and local government.  They wished to form a partnership with government to promote the ideals of Accelerated Shared Growth Initiatives for South Africa (ASGISA).  They wished to involve communities, families and schools.  They wished their facilities to be seen as wellness centres.  Golf was a challenging sport.  Investors were queuing up to assist.  Part of the education process was the etiquette of the game.  There was an intention to develop champions.  They requested the Committee to support the initiative, and sought to be included in the MPP.  This would help with facilities and funding.

Councillor Theresa van der Merwe, City of Johannesburg, said she was a ward councillor in Johannesburg.  It was her job to look at the little picture, and she saw the successes at ground level.  Twelve schools had used the Mzansi facilities as part of a holiday programme. She asked for support and the spreading of facilities.  It was an honour for the children to play on the mini-course.  The Mzansi initiative was far-reaching.  The Westbury area was currently dominated by gangs. She pledged the support of the City of Johannesburg to the project.  Unused land would be made available.  She wished to see the spread of the Mzansi facilities both in the city and in the country.  The youth needed to use their energy constantly.  This was a reality at grassroots level.

Mr Cindi said that they worked as a team with local government.

The Chairperson said that the team should be allowed to participate.

Mr D Dikgacwi (ANC) said that it was a good initiative.  At the National Assembly all the provinces were represented, while this project was still only active in Gauteng.  The concept must still go to the other provinces.  Members of Parliament could only speak for it when it had been marketed in their home provinces.  The sooner the project expanded out of Gauteng the better.  It must not die there.

Ms W Makgate (ANC) noted that the Mzansi Golf initiative was a plan to break the concept that golf was a rich man’s game.  There was a different situation for disadvantaged persons.  She asked if there was any plan to accommodate children where the family had no income.  Some HDSAs could afford to pay for sport, but others not.  She wondered if the outreach to local schools was only concentrating on the former Model C Schools, and asked if black schools were also being targeted.

Mr Lee had a problem with the project only happening in Gauteng.  South African golf was represented t the meeting, and he asked if the two bodies had spoken to each other.  There was a plethora of different initiatives, and they could be better concentrated at times.  He noted that the cost of developing a full course was in the region of R25 million.  He asked what the cost of a Mzansi facility was.

Mr Mlangeni asked how old the concept was.  If the facilities were mushrooming, he did not see any chance for progress.  He asked how many poor boys were playing.  Every day he saw lots of players at Soweto, some of whom were very poor.  Professional players had been produced from that community, for example Bafana Hlope.  They were on the course every day, which showed that even poor people could play the game.  They needed to work with SAGA, and would then make progress.  Many coloured boys had been coached at Fancourt in George.

Mr Louw said that the documents provided were almost identical.

Mr Cindi explained that all the members of Mzansi golf were born in Gauteng.  They did have a roll out plan, but it was conservative.  A national plan was still needed.

The Chairperson said that this kind of venture must be presented to the provinces and must happen within the provinces.

Mr Mark Vorster said that the cost of a Par 3 course was between R5 million and R7.5 million.  The holes were between 100 metres and 170 metres.  A surface area of ten to twelve hectares was needed.  The intention was to attract both new and old golfers.  Many ordinary golfers found the long holes at normal courses intimidating.  The Par 3 course offered a nice easy transition.

Mr Mzizi said that they were forming partnerships with government and the corporate world.  These would be vehicles to transform talent.  Talented athletes had the right to succeed.  He could see the project reaching other areas, and would need to get all the stakeholders together to achieve this.

Mr Cindi said that this presentation was a case of advertising the concept.  They would reconsider their approach if the Committee thought their roll out was too conservative.

Councillor F Loonat, City of Johannesburg, said that they had met with the SAGDB six months previously at their offices.  It had been a battle to get them there.  A presentation had been made, and the SAGDB was aware of Mzansi Golf’s plans.

Mr Dudley Jackson said that the company had been formed in 2003, and had evolved since then.  In 2004 it had been registered as a Section 21 company.
The Chairperson said that there should be involvement with golf clubs.  Members of Parliament resident in the different areas should be role models.  They could carry on the Mzansi mission.  The relationship between the SAGDB and Mzansi Golf should be considered, and the Mzansi initiative was part of the MPP ideal.  This was part of government’s thinking.  Government had priorities to develop sporting codes.

Mr Mlangeni mentioned a tournament held at Sun City annually to raise money for the Sports Trust.  He asked what happened to these funds, as they were told they would be channelled into development.  He did not see this happening. 

Mr Bruyns said that Mzansi golf had met with Mr Martin Pintow, who was the regional director of SAGDB for the Gauteng area. The Board as a whole would look to form a partnership with Mzansi golf.  Par 3 courses were a good concept, as they provided an introduction to all the necessary skills.  They allowed an introduction to golf, and he supported them fully.  Financial sustainability and partnerships had to be considered.  Funds raised at the Sun City tournament were all for the Sports Trust.  He was not aware of what they were used for, as they supported sort on a general basis.  Some had been given to the SAGDB some eighteen months previously, which had been used to buy golf shoes.

Mr Bruyns said that there were two separate initiatives at Fancourt, which were backed by Ernie Els.  He had developed some fine players.  There was a shift in focus from pure playing ability, and the approach was being re-engineered to focus more on education.  Children were being introduced to golf there as well, but he did not have the details.

The Chairperson said that golf was an individual sport, and was an investment in oneself.  Mzansi Golf should not work in isolation.  Development in schools should be happening in any game.  He wished them luck, but urged them to spread nationally.  They should write to the Minister and request an audience at the MinMEC meeting.  There must be interaction.

Mr Loonat said that members of the Committee had visited the Westbury development.  They had remarked on the Philips factory nearby, and suggested that they be approached for sponsorship.  Philips had provided some money towards the holiday programme as a result.

The meeting was adjourned.


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