Golf Greats from South Africa

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Most people know that Gary Player, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen are from South Africa, but there are several influential players, coaches and caddies with strong links to South Africa and Zimbabwe of whom you may not be aware.
 

David Leadbetter

Zimbabwean-born Leadbetter began his golf career on the South African and European tours, but had little success as a golfer. Thankfully, he found himself to be a great instructor, coaching the likes of Ernie Els, David Frost, Nick Price and many more. Leadbetter has a successful teaching career with multiple academies.
 

Justin Rose

 
Born in Johannesburg, to English parents, he found himself moving to England at the age of five. At the age of 11 he broke 70 and seven years later he turned professional. After finishing tie-fourth as an amateur in the Open at Royal Birkdale, Rose struggled as a pro and missed his first 21 cuts. He won his first European Tour event in South Africa – the 2002 Dunhill Championships, which kick-started his professional career. Rose is currently ranked sixth in the world.
 

Paul Casey

 
Paul’s father Terry is South African and in 2011, both his parents returned to SA to attend the South African Disabled Golf Open, which was held in Langebaan. At age 10, Paul applied for a tennis scholarship, but was unsuccessful. Determined to be a competitor in the sporting world, he took up golf and earned a scholarship to Arizona State University in the US. He’s giving back to the game through the Paul Casey Foundation, which provides scholarships for junior golfers.
 

Gary Gilchrist


After growing up in Durban, the now famous golf instructor resides in Florida, where he runs the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy. Not only is he a past member of the Sunshine Tour, but he also earned his Springbok colours. He won the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School and started competing against the likes of Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. In 1995 Gilchrist aided in the development of the first full-time junior golf academy in the world.

 

Phil Ritson

 
During his 63 years as a professional and educator, it is likely that Phil Ritson has taught more touring pros than any other golf professional in the world, which lead to his induction into Southern Africa Golf Hall of Fame in December 2010. Known as the ‘pro’s pro’, he has coached Gary Player, David Frost and KJ Choi, among many others.
 

Michael Hough

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Michael Hough spent some time on  Miguel Ángel Jiménez’ bag before turning pro himself. Hough won his first professional tournament in a Big Easy Tour event at Observatory Golf Club in 2013.

 

Mike Kerr

 
A native of Zimbabwe, Kerr competed at an amateur level alongside Tim Clark and Rory Sabbatini. He has caddied both on the PGA and European tours, for the likes of Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Lee Westwood, Miguel Ángel Jiménez and ThorbjØrn Olesen.
 

Glen Murray

 
Born and bred in KwaZulu-Natal, Murray has been on the bag for most of Sergio García’s career, although he has also spent some time caddying for Charl Schwartzel.
 

Peter van der Riet


Born in South Africa, Van der Riet was a very good player on the European and South African tours, winning three times on the latter. He played tournament golf (1986 – 1992) with John Daly, but eventually opted to caddy for the ‘Wild Thing’.

 

Michael Leemhuis

 
Leemhuis attained his education through Wits University in Johannesburg and was the general manager at Sun City before moving to Congressional Country Club in the USA, which hosted the 2011 US Open under Leemhuis’ direction. While working at Congressional Country Club, two well-known South Africans, Dave Hutchinson (golf course superintendent) and Sam Frost (golf instructor) worked alongside him.
 

Andrew Rice

 
Born in Pretoria, Rice competed against both Ernie and Retief as a junior. As a professional, he played on the Sunshine Tour before heading over to the US to become a senior instructor at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, where he taught for six years. He is now a highly-respected golf coach and the Director of Instruction at Berkeley Hall in South Carolina.
 

Mark Immelman

 
Mark and his younger brother Trevor grew up playing golf in Somerset West, while their father Johan was a former commissioner of the Sunshine Tour. Mark has taught amateur and professional golfers around the world, including Louis Oosthuizen and Tjaart van der Walt, and is making a name for himself as a commentator on pgatour.com and Sirius XM PGA Tour radio.
 

Jamie Gough

 

The half Scottish, half South African Gough represented South Africa as a junior and eventually turned pro at 18. He has 30 years of teaching behind his name, spent 10 years writing instruction for Compleat Golfer Magazine and currently coaches the likes of Miguel Angel Jiménez and Andy Sullivan.

 

Frank Thomas

 

A native of South Africa, Frank Thomas  set off to the United States in 1963 on a 25-foot sailboat.He joined the staff of the United States Golf Association and in his 26 years as Technical Director of the USGA, he was responsible for testing and ruling on the acceptability of every new club and ball. Thomas is credited with inventing the graphite shaft and started his own golf consulting company Frankly Golf, based in Orlando, Florida.

 

Robert Baker

Born in Cape Town, Robert Baker spent most of his years playing on the Sunshine Tour, before becoming a teaching pro. In the late 1990s he worked with Ernie Els and Nick Price and eventually taught at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy for five years. Baker developed a teaching methodology called Logical Golf to display complex techniques in a simple style.

 

Brian Henning

 

As a native of Johannesburg, Brian Henning built the Sunshine Tour into a successful entity that continues to go from strength to strength. Henning had a major impact on the growth and success of the Champions Tour, which saw him inducted into the Southern African Golf Hall of Fame for his significant contribution to the game.

 

Reprinted from The Compleat Golfer Magazine.

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