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Erinvale's commitment

From its first days, Erinvale Golf Estate has led the way in the development of golf course living in South Africa. Now the estate is also taking the lead in showing that private clubs can make a significant difference to the development of young golfers.

Erinvale is running a successful development project together with the SA Golf Development Board in the Helderberg area. The club has "adopted" ten promising young players and is supporting their continued development through offering them equipment, clothing and playing rights, as well as covering the costs of their involvement in junior golf foundation events.

"Two years ago the committee realised that we had to adapt to the changing times," said Erinvale director of golf, Johan Piek. "We wanted to get away from the elitist stigma people associated with Erinvale and get development going."

The club began by launching its own development initiative which targeted children from nearby schools. As the programme progressed, a decision was made to involve the SAGDB so that more opportunities could be created for the players they had identified.

Erinvale now supports the players financially while the SAGDB oversees their practical coaching and playing needs. The club has a dedicated fund created by contributions from members which they draw on to provide for the youngsters' needs.

Piek said that ultimately, he hopes that all the players currently involved in the project will become full members of Erinvale.

"In terms of integration its important that they become members and get involved at Erinvale so that Erinvale can be seen to be doing something," he said.

Piek added that it would be very encouraging if the learners were able to make a career from golf, in whatever capacity.

"We would have helped kids to go into something they love and hopefully make some money from it," he said.

One of the learners benefiting from Erinvale's support, Hybre Davids, said that all the players are very thankful for the club's support and for its contributions to their golf.

"Erinvale has encouraged me to do much better in my golf by helping me to play more often and because I also know there's support behind me," she said.

As proof of what the development project is achieving, Davids and her playing partner Allycia Lewies are the current Erinvale Ladies Classic champions. They won the event last year, and will soon be defending their title.

Many of the players also mentioned Erinvale's financial support as a crucial factor. They said that without the club's backing, they wouldn't have the opportunities they now enjoy.

The learners are aware of the commitment Erinvale is making to them, and all expressed their appreciation. They also indicated that they want to keep working hard to ensure that they make the most of the chances they're being given.

"I want to thank Erinvale for the sponsorship," said Gloria Roos. "We appreciate it a lot, and we will keep practicing hard."