Tapping away at the keys on my laptop the content and subject of this article has been a type … select … delete and retype exercise. Not because I don’t have anything to write about, but rather because I have too much to share.
Through the exposure that I have to the game, the industry, the people and the systems that make up the bricks that form part of the clubhouse of golf in South Africa, I am in a very blessed position to be part of the whole story.
The part that prides me most though stems from the days when my poor Mom had to wait for hours in the carpark at The Wanderers Golf Club whilst my brother, Nic Henning, a few other mates and myself appeared from the darkness of the golf course having played a “quick” 18-holes when it was thought that only 9-holes could be played after 16h00.
The fun we had making up our own holes, creating games where you could nominate your oppositions’ next target to be a specific greenside bunker or just the raw taste of competing with each other for bragging rights till the next outing (which was often the next afternoon).
There was nothing that could compare to those sacred hours we spent developing a love for the game! Nothing!
Back in the 80’s though, we were only a small bunch of young golfers, but the success of so many of them in all aspects of the game is now apparent, whether you look at Ernie and Retief as successful players, or to the likes of John Dickson, Martin Briede and Doug Wood as coaches, or even to the likes of Langley Perrins (CEO of Global Golf) and Craig West (West Golf in Germany) as successful business pioneers, or perhaps Steven Shearer and Dave Usendorff as administrators.
Well … okay … Dave Usendorff is also involved in every other aspect of the game of golf too and is, in my opinion, even luckier than myself when it comes to involvement in the industry.
Even though the industry seems to be heading on a little recessive journey, resurgence is coming!
I am fortunate to be actively involved with a number of junior events with the Central Gauteng Golf Union and SA Kids Golf and a wave of tidal wave of youngsters is about to hit the shores!
Not only are they filled with dreams of taking the game to new heights, but they have a wealth of talent to back it up.
Now however I write this, I’m going to leave out names due to the large number of headliners raising their hands, but already names like Kaleigh Telfer, Kyle McClatchie, Ivanna Samu, Teaghan Gauche, Woo-Ju Son, Matthew Spacey, Cara Gorlei, Dylan Naidoo and dozens of others are smashing through the ranks and owning the golf sections of the national newspapers.
This is hugely exciting and with the numbers of junior golfers steadily on the rise, golf seems to have a foundation of youngsters that will stabilise this wobbly ship and put it back on its course.
Back to me though and a message that I have been hinting at for the past few years. Fun, fun, fun!
I have two small children. My daughter is almost six and my son is soon turning three.
I have never forced golf upon either of them and will never do so in the future.
They are most welcome to play any sport that they wish and I’ll support them in whatever they do.
I will never instruct either of my children on how to hold a club or even how to swing. They will learn that on their own and kids are perfectly capable of developing their own techniques of getting their bodies to adapt to the unorthodox movements required to play golf.
But that being said, both of them love golf!
Neither of them play yet, but both will take time out to hit balls (tennis, ping pong, rubber, sponge and sometimes the real thing) in the lounge and in the garden. Yup, my television is going to get it soon!
With that, all I do is watch them.
Not their movements. Not their “centeredness of strike”, their stroke, their takeaway or their follow through.
All I watch is their faces.
The joy that comes from their expressions when they send a “spongy” across the room is Godsend!
Now that seems to be the ingredient missing from the game at present and is the cause of so many adults turning their backs on golf and finding new recreational activities to pursue.
We have forgotten how much fun golf can be.
Kids only commit themselves to activities that they enjoy, and the sheer magnitude of the nest of juniors currently investing their efforts in the game of golf is testament to this.
So, some positivity and words of golfing wisdom to see you through till next month:
If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong!