In our monthly series of introducing you to PGA of SA pros around the country, we stop at San Lameer Country Club to talk to Meyer du Toit. WADE PRETORIUS reports.
How did your career in golf take shape?
As a child, I found it difficult to concentrate on anything other than sport (my friends will say I haven’t outgrown it!). Undecided on a career, I opted for a stint in the UK on a two-year working holiday to try to find more clarity on my options. I had so much fun over there I forgot what I was really there for. A month before my visa expired, my parents kindly reminded me that when I got back I would have to start studying. They spotted an advert for the PGA course and thought it would be perfect for me … and it was.
You’ve worked under some of the best in the game. Tell us about that.
I graduated from the PGA in 2001 and started my apprenticeship under Jeff Clause (now a Master PGA professional) at Sparrebosch (now Pezula). He was already known as being one of the best and I will forever be indebted to him for the foundation he helped me lay. Five years later, I took up the role of Simola’s head professional under Alistair ‘Coach’ Beaumont. Not only did he teach me a different set of skills, but he also employed my now wife, Vickey. Five years of fun with the team at Simola and I found myself back at Pezula as the GM.
Is it true you’d never been to San Lameer before taking up your current position?
I was fortunate to be recommended by fellow PGA professional and friend Dave Usendorff for the position of golf director at San Lameer. At the time, I had never been to the estate but as soon as I went down for the interview, the possibility and potential of the job was palpable. It’s been six incredible years with a new challenge and the same first-day excitement every day.
What is the best part of your job?
The fact I can wake up every morning and go and do something I love. I have always said if it wasn’t for golf, I would never have met all the amazing people I have. Through the sport, I’ve been fortunate to travel and see the world, and, of course, make so many friends.
What is your earliest memory of the game?
Believe it or not, as a very young boy I didn’t enjoy golf. I thought it was boring and could never understand why people played such a silly game. That changed one day when I was so bored I decided to join my father and two brothers to hit a few balls on a Sunday afternoon at the school ground opposite our house. That was it and the bug bit. It turned me into an absolute golf fanatic. Only golfers understand that golf bug feeling.
In your golf game, would you rather ‘drive for show’ or ‘putt for dough’?
Putt for dough! That means I at least got to the green.
If you could change one thing about the new rules, what would it be?
Dropping from knee height. The changes were intended to speed up play but I think this rule actually slows it down. And it looks funny. Maybe it’s just a case of it taking some time to get used to these changes.
San Lameer has made a name for treating players like gold. How do you maintain the high standards?
I have an A+ team who share the same vision as me – always willing to walk the extra mile. We are also supported by a wonderful committee of a great product who support me and keep us motivated to do our best. It’s important to keep trying to raise your own bar for self-development and not become stagnant in what you do. That’s a real challenge in itself but something everyone connected with our club strives for.
Which is your favourite golf hole on the course?
We pride ourselves on having 18 memorable holes, but if I have to choose, it’s a toss-up between the 11th and 15th. They suit my eye and I have so much fun playing them. It’s hard not to steal a few lines to mention San Lameer’s phenomenal par threes too, each one is unique.
What is the funniest thing you’ve seen out on the course?
I played with ‘Coach’ at Simola and if you know him, you’ll be aware he’s not very stable on his feet on a good day, let alone after a couple of beers and playing on the slopes of Simola. His ball was resting on the grass just on top of the lip of a fairway bunker. I just knew I was about to witness one of the funniest moments as he approached the ball. It was a rare case of where the player moves further than the ball as he lost his balance and rolled down the bunker face. Needless to say, we were in tears of laughter and still talk about it. If you visit me, I may just show you the video.
What has been your favourite golf experience?
I have been so blessed with some of the most amazing experiences, and to mention only one is impossible, so here are my top three. Caddying for Branden Grace at The Masters Par-3 contest in 2013 was the highlight of my life, and I think it always will be (please don’t tell my wife!). I played with Branden, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen at The Bear’s Club in Florida. Branden and Charl shot 11 under par on that day. It was amazing to see. My eldest brother and I took my father to the 2014 Open Championship for his 70th birthday. It is such a special memory which I’ll cherish forever.