The PGA of South Africa’s intensive focus on golf education is starting to reap rewards throughout Africa as it raises the standard of golf on the continent while at the same time convincing many of South Africa’s top amateur golfers to not rush into the professional ranks.
For years, South Africa’s elite amateurs have considered a college scholarship in America as the only viable stepping stone to an eventual professional career in the game. But the PGA of South Africa’s Diploma in Club Professional Golfing and elite coaching at an academy is fast becoming a viable alternative to this approach.
“This is important because it allows these students to remain amateur golfers for longer while focusing on improving their games. So we’re seeing a lot of top amateurs now staying in South Africa instead of heading off to American Colleges. The result is that not only is the quality of our amateur golf so much higher, but we can also offer our golfers a real education in the game, in addition to the traditional method of qualifying as a PGA member through the three-year apprenticeship programme,” says Andrew Gunn, the Education and Training Manager for the PGA of South Africa.
“The PGA is now recognised as the leader of golf education in not only South Africa but Africa.” The PGA World Alliance has now given the PGA of South Africa the mandate for the entire Sub-Saharan Africa in this regard, which Gunn says is helping to raise the standard of golf education in the rest of Africa.
“We have had apprentices from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Nigeria who have been through the three-year programme and qualified as full members of the PGA of SA. There are currently four fully qualified PGA of SA members working in Mauritius. We have four Mauritians doing their apprenticeship and a further four Mauritian students at The Golf School of Excellence in South Africa.
“The PGA of SA will also be managing a Level 1 coaching course in Kenya at the end of June for 22 Kenyan coaches, many of whom are looking to start their apprenticeship with the aim of qualifying as PGA of SA members.”
The PGA also has a mandate through the PGAs of Europe and the R&A to assist with projects in Botswana and Madagascar. Through this, Botswana has eight fully qualified PGA members at present and Madagascar will require the establishment of golfing structures and Level 1 coaches.
“In addition, the PGA of SA has adapted its constitution to allow members from all African countries to become members of the PGA of SA.” The PGA of SA will also be hosting an international golf coaching conference in June, with the R&A sponsoring 15 African coaches from Sub-Saharan Africa to attend
“It’s all great recognition that what we’re doing in South Africa is impacting the rest of Africa as well and helping to develop the game throughout the continent.”