21 January 2013

South Africa: Goosen Protégé Takes Off

press release

Two years ago, Retief Goosen met a young black golfer just starting the game. The two met again recently at the Durban Country Club when the two-time US Open champion hosted a golf development clinic.

Goosen couldn't believe the impact he'd made on Siyanda Mwandla's life. In the time since they first met and Goosen gave him a few swing tips, Mwandla has gone from a six to a scratch handicap, won a handful of junior tournaments and recently represented KwaZulu-Natal in the SA Junior Inter-Provincial.

The young golfer was among the 28 South African Golf Development Board's learners from KwaMashu, Cato Crest, Umhlali and Mwandla's home town, Shakaskraal, who attended the clinic.

"It makes you really proud to see how well Siya has done," said Goosen. "I remember going to golf clinics as a junior and seeing the golfers I idolised, and wanting to be like them. That's why I do this - to help inspire somebody like Siya."

New driver

When Goosen first saw Mwandla in 2010, he was so impressed with his swing that he arranged for the now 18-year-old to be given a new TaylorMade R9 driver.

"He had a great swing but the wrong equipment. I got him the new driver and suddenly he hit it straighter and 50 yards further. And it's amazing to see he's making teams here in KwaZulu-Natal."

Mwandla praised Goosen for the role he has played in his improvement. "I was basically just playing for fun and then Retief changed my golf, and my life."

Mwandla was under pressure from his family to quit golf and focus more on his schooling, but when word reached them that Goosen truly believed in their son's potential, golf was back on the family agenda.

"For us as young black people, the townships are filled with drugs and gangsters, so golf keeps me busy and away from that," said Mwandla.

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