The Bafana Bafana goalkeeper talks about his favourite courses, gives us the inside info on his teammates and who he most enjoys watching.
When did you start playing golf?
I didn’t start at a young age. My brothers and I messed around with a really old 8-iron on the field near where we lived but I only got my first set of clubs when I was around 16 or 17 when I played at school. I stopped for a year or so when I moved to Joburg and started playing for a week, but stopped again when I moved to Belgium. I again started up while there but only really got into it when I moved back to South Africa. I’m playing off a 2.6 and I’ve been as low as a plus 0.7.
What is your home course and which is your favourite hole?
I play out of Milnerton Golf Club and I must say, I don’t actually have one favourite hole. I have a favourite four holes, the finishing stretch from the 15th to the 18th. They have some of the best views of the sea and Table Mountain and they are great holes that change depending on the wind. The 15th and 16th are reachable par fours with a breeze, but into the wind it’s definitely a driver and if you hit a good drive there are still about a hundred yards into the green!
You’ve no doubt played plenty of courses in South Africa. Which ones stand out the most for you?
Yes, I’ve travelled a lot through football and played a lot of courses. For me, though, The Links at Fancourt was out of this world. When I played there it was raining but it was still a great day. In fact, the whole of Fancourt is literally a golfing world to go to. I really enjoyed the vibe there. I’ve lived in Dainfern too and it was my home course for three years. It still holds a place in my heart and I always look forward to playing there when I’m in Gauteng.
I’ve played golf in countries like the US, Belgium and Germany. In Belgium The National Golf Brussels is about half an hour outside the city. It’s quite a new course but they have done a magnificent job with the design and layout. My brother lives in Alabama, so in the US I’ve played the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The courses are all immaculate and it’s an unbelievable experience. It’s all played on perfect greens and fairways.
What is your favourite tournament to watch on TV?
In all honesty my favourite event is any one where Tiger Woods plays. I also enjoy Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler. So, when any of them are in contention I’m glued to the TV! I’m drawn to them because as a footballer I’m involved in a team sport where there are wild celebrations. I enjoy the emotion they bring to golf. Tiger’s fist pump, Jordan throwing his club and chest bumping with his caddie when he holes from a bunker … basically I enjoy the golfer who brings an ‘oomph’ to the game.
What clubs do you use and do you have a favourite?
I don’t change clubs too often, but every now and then a new range will catch my eye. I’ve been a huge Cobra Golf fan since 2014 when I bought a set of Fly-Z Pros in Belgium. I then got a set of King Forged irons and when they came in black I simply had to buy them. My eyes are now on Rickie Fowler’s Rev 33s! I hit my lob-wedge the best. I hit my drives around 280-300 metres so I’m often left with around 80-90 metres from the green, so my lob-wedge is my go-to club.
Do you have a warm-up routine and have you ever had a hole-in-one?
No, I have young kids so time isn’t on my side before a round of golf! I basically arrive at the course ready. If that means my first drive gets smashed into the water, or down the middle of the fairway, I have to take it as it comes. I haven’t had a hole-in-one and to be honest I don’t stand on the tee box trying to get one. I’m happy to hit the green and have a putt for birdie. But there’s the odd occasion – like the Standard Bank Women’s Pro-Am at Atlantic Beach in June as an example – when there’s money [it was R100 000] for a hole-in-one so then I do try a bit harder!
Have you experienced any embarrassing moments on the course?
I have been going through a shanking period. I recently played quite well and shot a 75 which wasn’t bad, but I ended up with three shanks, so I’ve been struggling with that. Normally I hit the ball with a fade but if I try to over-power it, it turns into a hook. But, shanks are definitely embarrassing for anyone playing off a handicap lower than 6, I would say. When I played with James Keene, Dean Furman and Bradley Grobler in Joburg, we had a rule that if you don’t reach the red tees with your drive you’ll have to play your second shot with your pants down. So, it was quite amusing when that happened to the guys.
Who were your regular golfing mates from the football field?
In Belgium I played mainly with locals but in South Africa there were five of us who played regularly – Dean, James, Bradley, Simon Murray and myself. Then I also played quite a bit with Stanton Fredericks and the Sundowns goalkeeping coach Wendell Robinson. Bradley and James are both single-handicappers, so we always have lots of money on the line and there’s plenty of competition. The worst loser is James. He once walked off the course after six holes because he was playing badly and taking a beating!
– This article first appeared in the July 2022 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine. Subscribe here!