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Charl Schwartzel

Why Do South Africans Win So Many Major Golf Tournaments?

Charl SchwartzelCharl Schwartzel’s victory at the Masters was the 24th Major win by South African golfers. This small country of only 47 million people contains just 1 percent of the world’s 70 million golfers, yet continues to produce a huge number of world-class competitors. Bobby Locke won four British Opens from 1949 to 1957, and likely would have won major tournaments in the USA if he’d been allowed more access. A big deterrent to Locke winning more in Europe was the advent of WWII, which interrupted him at the peak of his career. Gary Player won nine majors, with his first at Augusta in 1961, and inspired Americans to think of golf as a global sport. In the 70’s and 80’s several South Africans such as Bobby Cole and Harold Henning were a threat in the majors, such as the 1975 British Open where Tom Watson beat Bobby Cole at Muirfield. But since 1992, when Nick Price won the PGA Championship and followed it with back-to-back wins at the British Open and the PGA Championship in ’94, the South Africans have been on a tear! Ernie Els has won three majors and Retief Goosen two. Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel have each won a major in the last four years. As a native South African, my five reasons for this amazing golf legacy from such a small country are:
  1. South Africa is a stronger sporting nation than many. Children engage in sport daily at school, and most are involved in leagues outside of school, where parents and communities provide strong support and coaching. Dedication and determination to excel is the result of an environment that nurtures and pushes athletes to succeed.
  2. Climate is also a factor. One can play and practice golf year-round in South Africa.
  3. The quality of golf courses in South Africa is very high. This country has hosted many international golf championships. Competitive courses help produce competitive golfers.
  4. The Ernie Els Fancourt Foundation and Johann Rupert’s Golf Development Board have provided opportunities for talented golfers like Oosthuizen and Schwartzel to develop into golfers who can compete with the world’s best. Without this support, farmers’ sons like Schwartzel and Oosthuizen may not have the chance to reach their potential.
  5. The European Tour. South African players don’t just stay home and play their own Sunshine Tour. They sharpen their skills and gain invaluable experience by playing the very competitive European Tour. Case in point: Charl Schwartzel won six times on the European Tour prior to his recent Masters win.
What do you think? All theories are welcome! Interested in playing golf in South Africa? Join Mel & Rosemary Sole on a 5-Star South African Golf & Safari Vacation this fall! Find out more » Further reading:

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