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SAGDB to take on Ernie's Foundation

Two of South Africa's most important golf development initiatives will come closer together when a team of the top eight u/16 players from the SA Golf Development Board play a match against the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation (EEFF) next month. The competition will be played at Fancourt in George on the 10th and 11th of August.

The SAGDB players will be flown to George by SAA and accommodated at the Town Lodge as part of these organisations' ongoing support for golf development. The SAGDB players will also be using state of the art equipment provided by The Pro Shop through a grant from the Lotto.

SAGDB managing executive Ken Viljoen says that the idea behind the competition is to showcase the players' talent at the highest level. It will also be an opportunity to see what advances the board has made since implementing its new five-year coaching plan and new national structure known as Project 312.

"The question we must ask ourselves is: are we moving in the right direction?" Viljoen says."

Delano Taylor will be one the players competing against the EEFF.

The match will also serve as an opportunity for the eight SAGDB players to impress the foundation. EEFF CEO Hannes van Niekerk has indicated that the foundation is hoping to invite new members from the SAGDB and he would like to use this match as an opportunity to see how these players measure against the membership criteria. Three of the SAGDB players will also receive invitations to play in the Ernie Els World Junior Invitational.

"The members of the SAGDB will have the opportunity to see and experience the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation facility, interact with our members, play against them on a course at one of the leading golf resorts in the world and get to know what the EEFF is all about," van Niekerk says. "Hopefully this will motivate them to work hard in order to get the chance to be selected as a member of the EEFF."

Van Niekerk believes that the SAGDB should be a "feeding ground" for the EEFF, and looks forward to continuing a strong relationship with the development board. He says that this event is a good way to develop mutual respect and an understanding for what each organisation is doing.

"Hopefully this tournament will be a success and then it will become an annual event," Viljoen adds. "Hannes and I have agreed that in future all SAGDB players invited to join the EEFF will come out of the u/16 group selected for this tournament."

The eight SAGDB youngsters come from five different provinces, highlighting how the development programme is growing a strong base of players around the country. Two are drawn from each of Western Province, KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State, while Border and Eastern Province contribute one player each.

The SAGDB is especially excited that one of the players, Delano Taylor from Somerset West in WP, is only 14. He is currently third on the SAGDB's u/16 order of merit and is showing great promise.

The other players are Lucky Mbambo and Sithembiso Mweli from KZN, Toto Tshabalala and Thabo Ramathinyane from the Free State, Fezekile Kana from EP, Odwa Ngwane from Border and WP's Arno Titus. The team will be coached by the South African ladies player and SAGDB's development manager Millie Zim. The board's development manager for Western Province, Michael Bredenkamp, will manage the squad.