Drop goals in his rugby days, now Schalk’s dropping birdie putts

By Grant Winter

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Because of work commitments Schalk Naude has cut down on his senior amateur playing schedule this year but, of the three provincial opens he’s entered, he’s finished top 10 every time which is not bad going at all.

“I’m targeting the Indwe SA Senior Open at Humewood in October, though, a course I’ve never played,” says the 57-year-old who in spite of limited appearances in 2015, still manages to hold down the No 8 spot
in the SA senior amateur rankings.

Senior amateur golf is flourishing in South Africa, because it gives players a new lease of highly competitive tournament life after 50, and the camaraderie is first-rate. And the annual interprovincial is a highlight.

“We, that’s Central Gauteng, lost to Western Province by just half a point in the IPT last year,” says team member Naude. “It was that close. And three of our team members – Jock Wellingon, Richard Bruyns and Gavin van Aswegan – are Super Seniors (and therefore over 60). The ‘young’ guys just turning 50 are keeping all of us on our toes, but clearly the older players like Jock, Richard and Gavin can still play this game.”

A good many senior amateurs have graduated from other sports into golf, Naude being a prime example as he was a rugby star in his days, a dynamic flyhalf and utility back for Transvaal, Northern Transvaal and Western Province before heading for Italy for a two-year stint.

His commitment to rugby has become a commitment to golf and he still finds time to play scratch league and mid-amateur league for his club, Randpark, who have won the Central Gauteng Scratch League for four out of the last seven years. They were champions last year and, late in July, were topping the log midway through this year’s competition.

“Randpark does a lot for us and we’ve got a solid core of older players. The young guys come and go. So you need that solid older core,” says Naude who has a best round of 66 at Randpark’s Bushwillow course, and a 67 on the old Randpark (now Firethorn).

Talking rugby, he is “very impressed” with the current Springbok team.
“There’s new talent there and the young backline is doing so well. I think there’s great hope for them in the World Cup. Like the Lions in Super Rugby this season, I think the Boks will surprise in the World Cup.”

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