Golf | 16 Nov 2017 | By Michael Vlismas

Major boost for local pros in Gary Player Invitational Tournament

Lindani Ndwandwe

Gary Player’s passion for developing South African golf talent has seen the Black Knight invite four Sunshine Tour professionals to play in the pro-am of his Gary Player Invitational tournament presented by Coca-Cola, two of whom are part of the country’s new professional development squad.

Lindani Ndwandwe, Makhetha Mazibuko, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Louis de Jager will play in the pro-am of Player’s prestigious charity series at Sun City’s Lost City Golf Course on Friday 24 November.

The main event will be played on the weekend of 25 and 26 November, and with a field including Grand Slam champion Player, former European Ryder Cup captain and 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke, multiple European Tour winner Brandon Stone, legendary women’s golfer and four-time Major champion Laura Davies, Spanish professional and two-time European Tour winner Ignacio Garrido; top women’s professionals Caroline Martens, Victoria Elizabeth and Emma Cabrera Bello, Springbok rugby great Chester Williams; renowned footballers Ruud Gullit, Robbie Fowler, Mark Fish, and Matthew Booth, actor and entrepreneur Masego “Maps” Maponyane, and a host of influential business leaders.

Ndwandwe and Mazibuko are part of the Gary Player Class of 2017-18, which is the Sunshine Tour’s development squad for historically disadvantaged professionals. The squad benefits from the extensive support of the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) and the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation (EEFF) in its goal to provide a level playing field for historically disadvantaged professionals to compete on the local circuit.

This week the Gary Player Class is attending a boot camp at the Momentum World of Golf where they receive technical coaching as well as access to sports psychologists and nutritional experts to improve their golf.

It’s another positive step in the development goals of South African golf, which was pioneered by the SAGDB and EEFF’s work at an amateur golf level, and is now taken further through the Gary Player Class. Player is also involved in the Sunshine Tour’s upgrade of Soweto Country Club, and has agreed to upgrade the golf course design at no cost. Player also designed the original golf course.

“I have always been passionate about developing South African golf talent. I know how much golf can change a person’s life and open so many doors for you. Just last week Zack Rasego, a caddie who started at Sun City and who used to caddie for me, won the Nedbank Golf Challenge with Branden Grace,” said Player.

“So to have four Sunshine Tour professionals in our pro-am field is part of this ongoing process. I’m also really excited to see the progress made by two of the Gary Player Class professionals, Lindani and Makhetha.”

The four Sunshine Tour professionals will form part of the most successful charity pro-am series in golf, and which to date has raised more than $64 million through its tournaments around the world to strengthen and uplift disadvantaged individuals and communities.

The South African beneficiaries are Wildlands and its work in impoverished communities with waste recycling projects, as well as Wings and Wishes which funds transport for critically ill children to receive the specialized treatment they need to survive.