Amateur golf in South Afica breaks new ground

Tee and Sandwedges June 2015

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THE South African Golf Association (SAGA) and Women’s Golf South Africa (WGSA) are delighted to announce the launch of Golf RSA and the appointment of current South African Golf Development Board CEO, Grant Hepburn, at its helm.

“As the governing bodies of amateur golf, SAGA and WGSA have agreed to unify and reorganise their operations under one umbrella,” explained SAGA president Gerhard Conradie.

“We believe the amalgamation under Golf RSA is in the best interest of furthering the sport and to ensure its future within the socio-economic, legal and political environments of this country.

“The respective national executive committees will continue to set the strategy and policies and the existent democratic structures of both organisations will remain intact, however Golf RSA will implement and perform the combined operations.”

Conradie confirmed that the SA Disabled Golf Association (SADGA), which is affiliated to SAGA, will join the unified operations.

“Golf RSA will be governed by a board of directors comprising senior representatives of SAGA, WGSA and SADGA, as well as several high profile, independent non-executive golf personalities who shall provide corporate governance and proper oversight of the operation of the not-for-profit company,” Conradie said.

“We are excited to welcome Grant in the role of CEO at Golf RSA. We believe his passion, energy, determination and personality is perfectly suited to drive the unification process.”

WGSA president Karen Olivant also welcomed the launch of Golf RSA as a positive step that will change the face of amateur golf in South Africa.

“We are delighted to join forces with SAGA and SAGDA as Golf RSA,” Olivant said. “We will continue to operate and run our tournaments at a very high standard, however, we believe a cohesive, integrated approach will yield the most effective results for the future of amateur golf.

Sunshine Tour chairman Johann Rupert applauded the launch of Golf SA and Hepburn’s appointment.

“The formation of Golf RSA is a remarkable achievement – congratulations to all involved,” Rupert said. “Golf RSA will provide a healthy platform from which to move golf forward throughout South Africa.

“Having known Grant for nearly 20 years since we first met at the 1995 Open Championship at St Andrews, I was very pleased that SAGA approached him to be the first CEO. Grant has done a remarkable job as the leader of the SAGDB, and we wish him all the best.

“Nowadays we all read about one scandal after another involving the various administrators of nearly every sporting code. It is comforting that golf, not only in South Africa but across the world, has the services of good men and women who are willing to serve the wonderful game that we all love so much.”

Hepburn, who has established golf academies in Europe and the United Kingdom and has his own academy, the Southern African Golf Institute, based at the River Club in Cape Town, began his career as Robert Baker’s assistant coach on the PGA Tour 20 years ago.

He has a proven track record in both amateur and professional golf circles, has coached champions on the PGA Tour, European Tour, Asian Tour and the Sunshine Tour, and works with many of the country’s top amateurs.

In 1999, Hepburn joined the SAGDB as its national coaching consultant and has trained more than 80 coaches during his tenure.

He has excelled in his capacity as the CEO since 2013, taking the organisation from a development initiative with projects in seven golf unions to a nationwide program that is now active in all 14 golf unions around South Africa.

Following a R10-million donation from Rupert to finance a national squad programme earlier this year, Hepburn will also be highly instrumental in the selection, development and management of the South African national squad.

“I hope to repay the faith that everyone has shown in me and justify the confidence that the union presidents have put in me by making a positive difference in my role within Golf RSA,” said Hepburn.

“It is vital to grow the game of golf, to serve the golfers at club level and to facilitate the different golfing bodies in their commitment to work together as a unified body under Golf RSA.”

Hepburn took office on June 1.

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