Perhaps best known for the classic TV ad ‘Klipdrift Met Eish’, Neels van Jaarsveld has his most fun out on the golf course, writes GARY LEMKE in Compleat Golfer.
What is your handicap and how often do you play?
I’m a 10, but am working hard to get this down to single figures. I try to play twice a week, but it’s not always that easy as it tends to chew up time. When I started, I played almost every day and sometimes I’d fit in 72 holes on four courses over two days. I play mostly at Kleinmond Golf Club or Arabella, but I’m also a member at Parys Golf Club.
How did the golf bug bite?
When I moved to Johannesburg to play the character of a doctor in Binnelanders, I used to go to to the Brits-Magaliesberg area quite often. A friend’s sister had a contact at Brits Golf Club [now Seasons Lifestyle Estate]. The course had beautiful undulating fairways and gnarly greens and there were healthy zebras walking around. I was hooked.
What are your favourite course memories?
I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced some amazing courses. A special moment was playing the Links at Fancourt with my fiancee and hardly anyone else was on the course. On another occasion, we stopped play with our 9-irons in hand for a viewing of a lovely herd of elephant at Elephant Hills in Zimbabwe. Having played 96 of the top 100 courses in South Africa – and many outside that list – I can honestly say this country is a golfer’s paradise.
Which are the four courses in that top 100 that you haven’t yet ticked off?
It’s going to be an interesting road trip when I get round to it. The ones I haven’t played, but intend to, are Fish River, Katberg, Sishen and San Lameer.
And your favourite courses?
All the Fancourt courses stand out, as do Arabella, Parys Golf & Country Estate, Pearl Valley, Erinvale, St Francis Links, Cotswold Downs, Serengeti and Highland Gate. They are all special and should be part of anyone’s golfing bucket list.
Have you ever scored a hole-in-one?
Can I say ‘yes’, but with an asterisk? I managed an ace on a mashie course, the hole being 67 metres. I hit a perfect fluffed wedge and it bounced and rolled the last seven or so metres. I bought the clubhouse ice-cold Brutal Fruits. It was party on!
Who is the best golfer you have played with?
Durbanville Golf Club’s Sunshine Tour pro JP Strydom. He made a tap-in eagle on the first hole he played after getting off a plane and rushing to the course. Some of his clubs were still in their wrappers. Special mention goes to Johan ‘Soapy’ van Zyl. The man taught me to love everything about the game. And what a player.
You starred in a play that revolves around golf. Tell us more.
The plan was to play a lot of golf. And act a little. And then I thought I’d combine the two. But a one-man show requires a lot of concentration. So in the end, I acted more and played less. My latest one-man show, ‘Op my Eish’, is a tongue-in-cheek autobiographical comedic rollercoaster that includes the odd golf tale. The screenplay is still in early development, but you’d be surprised at how many of our recognised artists enjoy smacking the dimple about – in front of and behind the camera.
As an actor, one of your strengths is comedy. What is the funniest thing to happen to you on a golf course?
I once saw a dude roll a golf cart, and as it eventually came to a stop, the guy said: ‘That’s how I roll.’ It was funny. Maybe it’s because we were upside down.
What would be your dream fourball and what course would it be played on?
The late Seve Ballesteros is my golfing hero. Surfing icon Kelly Slater and actor Bill Murray would also be there. I’d like to ‘take them to the jungle’ and play Gary Player Country Club at Sun City, or an early morning at Leopard Creek.
Neels van Jaarsveld is an award-winning South African actor. He has played the lead in over 12 local and international films, such as the critically acclaimed The Bang Bang Club, featured in over 100 stage productions, several TV series, soaps, music videos and award-winning advertisements such as the ‘Klipdrift Met Eish’ campaign, which won the Advertisement of the Century award.
– This article first appeared in the October issue of Compleat Golfer