On Saturday a handful of Grey College golfers, as well as the old boy and reigning Tshwane Open champion, Dean Burmester, were treated to a very special day indeed with a trip to the farm of the nine-time major champion, Gary Player.
After departing from the City of Roses at 5:00, the players as well as other members of the party, arrived at the farm outside Colesberg shortly after 7:00 and each were greeted with a cup of coffee personally made by Player.
Player is renowned for being a busy body and he took the young golfers for a “run” up a hill to enjoy a 360° view of his tranquil farm.
The youngsters were indulged by tales of his illustrious career before playing in a closest-to-the-pin challenge. While the plan was to play 9 holes on his farm, sadly time did run out, but the mini challenge was great fun.
During the challenge, Player took the time to personally address issues in each and every player as well as Burmester. With 64 odd years as a professional, Player was able to spot minor flaws immediately and after minor adjustments, the difference in the youngsters’ shots was immediately visible.
Even the experienced Burmester, who will be playing in his major this year, benefited from
Player’s “coaching” and by his own admission said he noticed the difference right away.
The 81-year-old Player was impressed by the swing of the tall and lanky Nienaber. The 17-year-old recently won the Curro South African Juniors International (SAJI) in Durbanville after beating Garrick Higgo in a play-off. As is the case with Burmester, Nienaber is also a big hitter of the ball.
Speaking to Voice, Player said all the players showed a lot of promise and with hard work and dedication Burmester and Nienaber could have very good careers.
“All of the boys have lots of ability. It all depends on how dedicated they are and how much they want it. With me, I was an animal with wanting to do well. I don’t know if it’s something that is inbred or what it is.
“We were so thrilled when we saw Dean winning a tournament the other day. He’s got tremendous ability and there is no telling how far he would go is he is prepared to make the sacrifice.
“The same applies for Wilco. He’s got a beautiful body, he won the tournament down in the Cape and shows that he has got a lot of ability.
“All of them have got ability, it’s up to them to bring it to the fore”.
Nienaber first met Player a nine-year-old at Fancourt in George and recalled meeting the inspirational person for the first time.
The plus-four handicapper added that he was over moon having been given the opportunity to visit the farm of a global icon of the sport, with Burmester who has made him proud as Grey boy.
“To me it was big coming to the farm, has Grey boys were are very proud of what Burmester has done for the sport and knowing that we are from the same alma mater.
“Mr Player taught me all about the mental side of things to taught and made me realise that if I want to be at the top of my game I have to be in the best physical shape possible.
Whether or not Nienaber, AJ Bezuidenhout, Gary Kemp, Mosito “Muskiet” Moloi, Neil Delport and Ray Wessels decided to pursue careers as professional golfers remains to be seen, however, after spending a day in the company of Player they will definitely returned to Bloemfontein richer and perhaps when extra enthusiasm to pursue the sport at its highest level. – MORGAN PIEK