Witbank golf coach driving golf development

WITBANK, Mpumalanga (2 July 2015) - When you speak to Edwin Compton, it's easy to understand why this PGA of South Africa golf professional is doing so well with one of the most exciting golf development projects in South Africa.

Compton's passion for the game and a real understanding of the challenges is what drives his success as the Mpumalanga Development Manager for the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB).

Through his work as a PGA coach and with the SAGDB, Compton has over 200 children who are receiving coaching in the region. This includes grassroots work such as the SAGDB chapter in Malelane, as well as working with talented amateurs already playing the game.

His greatest achievement to date has been signing up 22 children with golf club memberships in Mpumalanga, and launching the region's new Expansion Project whereby he helps coach junior golfers at various golf clubs in Mpumalanga.

"I was a good amateur golfer - a solid scratch handicap. I think any scratch handicap has a dream to be a touring pro, so I went to a golf academy after school. It was quite expensive and my dad ran into some financial trouble so I couldn't continue with it. For five years I never even played. So because I had financial setbacks, it has helped me to understand where some of these kids are coming from. Golf is expensive and it's great to help kids who can't afford equipment or coaching or to get to tournaments. I've seen how well they perform when those pressures are taken away from them," says the 32-year-old Witbank-based PGA professional.

"Signing up those 22 kids with golf clubs was very satisfying for me. Twelve kids from our Malelane chapter, who only started playing three years ago, joined as members at Malelane Golf Club. And one of them, Vorster Thwala, is now a 15 handicap. And then in Witbank, Greenside Golf Club gave us 10 free memberships. So that's 22 kids that we've been able to bring into the system. That's a big win. We can monitor their progress and they can play in junior tournaments. Most of these kids are 14 and younger, and they're keen and good golfers."

Another success story has been Schalk Grobler, a three-handicap golfer who this year won a tournament on the Glacier Junior Series at Witbank Golf Club with a round of 68. And 16-year-old Banele Mavuso has also been performing well at Mpumalanga junior tournaments.

"We took Schalk into the programme because he's got massive talent but because of finances he can't get to tournaments or get the right equipment and coaching. And Banele is probably my top player in Mpumalanga. Middelburg High School gave him a bursary to study there and live in the hostel. So he's close to me and I can coach and help him often."

Compton says a close working relationship with the Mpumalanga Golf Union and various golf clubs contributes greatly to the success of the development work in the province.

"We've got a great relationship with the Mpumalanga Golf Union. They support us 100% and they get us everything we need. They understand how this will feed and improve our junior golf and in the end our senior golf in the region. They back us, and so do the golf clubs that offer us free driving range use and memberships and so on. The clubs and the union really come to the party."

And Compton says being able to give these children something he wasn't able to receive is very satisfying.

"I've got the best job in the world and I love what we do. I love helping these kids and watching them improve. Being a PGA coach also helps me really connect with them at the level of what they need as a player."

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About the PGA of South Africa

The Professional Golfers Association of South Africa is a members' organization of over 500 qualified Club Professionals. The PGA was founded in 1925 and lists amongst its members over the years many of South Africa's greatest golfers and most dedicated servants of the game.

The PGA is committed to training and serving golf pros whose principal aim is to offer a highly professional service to golfers in all aspects of the game.

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