• Down memory lane

    Dale Hayes
    Dale Hayes

    I spent a couple of years in America in the mid to late ’80s working in a retail and wholesale golf business and I saw a golf magazine that was published by the California Golf Association, which they sent out to all their members.

    When I got back to South Africa I told Dennis Bruyns, who was the boss of the PGA of SA at the time, that I thought it was a great idea for the PGA and the South African Golf Association (SAGA) to get together to do something similar in South Africa.

    With the combination of instruction, course management strategy and all the latest equipment coming from the ‘pro’ and the rules of golf and etiquette coming from the SAGA, this would be the ideal communication to all serious golfers.

    At that time, the magazine scene was interesting.

    There was no general sports magazine and the ‘old’ SA Golf magazine had closed a few years before, which left two very small golf magazines on the market.

    Initially, the SAGA agreed to go into a 50/50 partnership with the PGA, while Dennis convinced one of the existing magazine owners to close his magazine and join this new venture.

    This left the other owner out in the cold. Due to the possibility of the new magazine being able to get to every golfer in South Africa, he reckoned his business would be severely affected. Very cleverly he was able to scare off the SAGA by convincing them it was unethical and possibly even against a part of their constitution to favour one party over another, which (he reckoned) they would be doing.

    The PGA decided to continue with the publication of the magazine alone, which was given the name Compleat Golfer by the new publisher, Peter Orten. Peter had played an instrument on the great song; ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ and unfortunately he should have stuck to the music business as the magazine lost money each month for close on two years before Dennis, Tony Georgiou and I took over.

    The first move was to turn it into a pay-for-subscription magazine, which fortunately was very successful. We also received fantastic support from the golf industry. Pringle, Titleist, FootJoy, Spalding, Ping and Wilson all took ads in almost every issue.

    It was also at a time when many new golf estates were opening up and we were, by then, the only place to, as they say, ‘fish where the fish are’. Television advertising was too expensive so Compleat Golfer was pretty much the only option.

    We also came up with a lot of innovative things that made the magazine stand out. We put together two panels, one to choose the 20 best golfers ever in South Africa and the other to start ranking South African golf courses. The latter was hugely controversial and we were even threatened with lawsuits by Dainfern and Randpark when they weren’t chosen in the Top 20.

    We started the Annual Awards Dinner to recognise the top juniors, ladies and male amateurs and professionals, the Club Professional of the Year and those people who had made a great contribution to golf.

    We organised the Golf Faire for a number of years, which was the first retail golf fair in the world. We arranged the Compleat Golfer Mid-Amateur Championship, which was also the first time that an event was played for golfers in that age group in South Africa. This was an enormous success.

    It was Dennis’ idea and he ran the event to resemble a professional tournament, which was way ahead of any other amateur tournament in South Africa at the time.

    Over the last quarter of a century, Compleat Golfer has made an important and lasting contribution to South African golf. It has been a pride and joy of mine for as long as I can remember and I am hoping it will continue to make a lasting contribution for years to come.


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