The Els for Autism series of golf days plays an integral part in helping many South African families affected by autism.
‘The golf days are a major source of income for what Els for Autism does in South Africa,’ says Nico van Rensburg, The Els Group’s business development manager and a long-time driving force behind the golf days.
‘I estimate the golf days generate as much as 80% of the yearly income for the centre. Without them, we would be in a serious predicament … this year is going to be tough. It has been for so many South Africans. What we do, trying to generate income for Els for Autism, is so important and is much, much bigger than golf.
‘We are fortunate to have so many great partners that, despite the desperate economic times, have still said, “Hey, we are in your corner. We want to help in whatever way we can.” It’s heartwarming and gives our team the energy to push on.’
Planning for 2020, like with most companies and NGOs around the world, has been a stop-start affair with many best intentions being pushed and pulled in different directions. While the lockdown regulations continue to allow golf to be played, the series is on.
‘We are going to be creative. We have to be,’ adds Van Rensburg, a former professional player with multiple wins on the Sunshine and Asian Tours.
‘Firstly, we are going to abide by the rules. That is an important parameter to remember throughout. We want to play our role in ensuring the virus is contained as far as possible.’
The plans for 2020 include stops at venues that have been staunch supporters of the cause and the Stellenbosch leg will go ahead.
‘The plan remains to visit Stellenbosch Golf Club. Not only do we have a fantastic support base from the GM, Louis Destroo, and his team but we also want to show off the renovations to the winery. It will be a special afternoon for sure.’
Part of the fun remains the auctions which have raised substantial funds for the autism awareness programme. ‘We are going to embrace technology and maybe do things a little more virtually than we would’ve liked. But these are the times we live in and, you know, we have to see the positives where they are.’
The show must go on, they say. Els for Autism’s work in South Africa too must continue long after 2020. Their immediate future requires teamwork and the generosity of the golfing community. But golfers have never been scared of a par-four stroke one in the past.
HOW CAN READERS HELP?
Els for Autism funds its centre mainly through golf days, which form part of the ‘Els for Autism Drive to Sun City’. You can enter these golf days:
3 September: Randpark Golf Club
1 October: Highland Gate Golf & Trout Estate
18 September: Stellenbosch Golf Club
15 October: Silver Lakes Golf Estate
22 October: Ebotse Golf Estate
29 October: Leopard Creek Country Club
4-5 November: Lost City Golf Course (final)
14 December: Wild Coast Sun Country Club
February 20212: St Francis Links