Proteas all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo is fairly new to golf, but he’s determined to carry a natural sporting talent on to the course. He enjoys being competitive and is not shy to throw a bit of banter around when he’s playing – between shots, obviously, writes GARY LEMKE.
What is your handicap and do you have aspirations to reduce it?
Firstly, I need to make it clear that I’m not the greatest player around and the bug is still quite new, but I understand why it’s so popular. I don’t have an official handicap, but if I can play a bit more and get it to around a 16, I’ll be happy. It’s basically the global average and one can have an enjoyable time on the course playing off a 16.
Given you’re fairly new to the game, have you ever broken 100?
I’m happy to say I have. I just wish my batting scores were as high as my golf scores, though! I have shot a 98, and it was a great buzz to come in under a hundred. Anyone who has played at that level will know you play a few good shots, a few bad shots and a few in-betweeners to get there.
You’re one of those rare breeds who bats left-handed, but bowls right-handed. What comes more naturally to you, and which way do you play golf?
Both come naturally to me. My right arm is my stronger one and I use that as my top hand when I’m batting, which makes me a left-handed batsman. It’s the right way strength-wise and for co-ordination. I used to play hockey right-handed, but I play golf left-handed as I have a long swing in terms of how I hit the ball. It also feels more natural. My short game isn’t great, but it’s something I’m going to work on.
Who of your teammates are the best golfers for you to play with?
I’ve played in a Cricket SA golf day, but my partners on that occasion weren’t too good [laughs], but in terms of having an enjoyable time on the course, [Dolphins cricketer] Sibonelo (Sibz) Makhanya is the man. Most importantly, I can beat him, but he’s one helluva competitor, and no matter the level of sport, it’s great to compete.
I enjoy his company on and off the field and there’s always good banter. He’s a gem of a guy. Another guy who is full of banter and is a lot of fun is Eathan Bosch, also with the Dolphins franchise. He is very competitive and is an unbelievable player. What a golfer, he’s a huge talent.
Which courses stand out for you?
As I’ve mentioned, I haven’t played a lot, but Royal Johannesburg and Kensington stick in my mind. But being a KZN local, I’ve been able to play Mount Edgecombe Country Club quite a few times and that’s probably my favourite course for now. It’s a nice golf estate and club. The layout is open, which suits me. At this stage I’m not looking for a course that’s too intimidating with plenty of trees and the wind pumping. I like keeping things simple! I’ve also heard the guys saying good things about Zimbali and it’s a place I want to experience sooner rather than later.
What is your favourite Major?
The Masters seems to be a little different to the other Majors; it has that X-factor. Maybe it’s the tradition, the fact it’s the only Major that is played on the same course each year, or that it has the feeling that it’s the one Major every golfer would like to win. It’s really special.
Golf is always looking for innovation, as is cricket. What would you do to make golf more attractive to a younger audience?
Everyone talks about growing the game, and it’s a tough one when you’re asked for a personal solution. While I don’t have the answers, I reckon anything that can add excitement to the game and motivate the golfer to go out there and play would be a good thing.
Who would be your dream fourball?
Tiger Woods would be one, for obvious reasons. He’s the golfer I grew up watching dominate the sport with those 14 Majors. Plus, I love his character and competitive nature, which is so important. He’s the greatest of our generation. Obviously Ernie Els would be another, he’s a South African sporting icon. Can you imagine playing with Tiger and Ernie? I’d bring Sibz along just for company and to keep it real so I wouldn’t feel completely intimidated.
Why do cricketers make good golfers?
It’s probably the motion of the swing and the way we hit through the ball, the timing at the point of impact and always a follow through. Obviously there are big differences too. As cricketers we keep our elbows nicely tucked in when getting ready to hit the ball and we hit it inside-out a lot, whereas in golf the elbows aren’t tucked in and one hits it from the outside-in as you go through the ball and then extend through the connection. But it all starts with good co-ordination, being still and having a good ball connection.
He made his debut for the Proteas in an ODI against Ireland in Benoni in 2016 and then progressed to the Proteas T20 squad, with a debut against Sri Lanka at Centurion in 2017. His Test debut came for the Proteas against Bangladesh in 2017 and he has played four Tests to date. With more than 40 ODIs under his belt, he will be part of South Africa’s squad at the 2019 Cricket World Cup. He attended Glenwood High School on a hockey scholarship before his cricketing talent was uncovered.