This year the Workers’ Day public holiday was on a Wednesday. At Selborne Primary in East London, learners were given an extra day off, which basically meant for many it turned into a long weekend. A mini-holiday bonus in a busy school calendar.

Although, for Ben Weber, there’s no such thing as a day off, even if it’s Workers’ Day or a school-free Thursday. If he’s not at school, the 14-year-old is likely to be found on the driving range, or on the golf course. He manages to squeeze in some four rounds of golf in a normal week, a lot of them at East London Golf Club, which is a short distance from the family home in Vincent. Olivewood Golf Estate, about 30km north of his home, is the club where he holds membership.

As we caught up with the youngster who in February became the youngest winner in the 93-year history of the Proudfoot Trophy – a 36-hole qualifier for the SA Amateur Championship – he’s already packed and ready for a round at East London Golf Club.


Weber’s top six.

I’ve won quite a few medals – you get one for finishing in the top three at a tournament – but winning the Proudfoot Trophy is by far the biggest moment so far

“The weather is ideal to play a round today,” he says. “Plus, we have been given the day off from school. Normally I wake up at 6:15 every morning and go to school. My mom fetches me at 2:30 in the afternoon and takes me to the driving range, and often after that it’s to the gym. Sometimes I go to the driving range with my brother, Jake. But he’s sports-mad and plays rugby, cricket, golf, just about anything you can think of, so he often has something else going on. Me? I play school water polo in the summer and then it’s golf.”

To say the teenager is growing as a golfer is true in every sense. “I have really improved a lot in the past year and have come down to a plus-5 handicap. I also had a growth spurt recently and am now 5ft 10in. So I’ve changed my clubs from steel shafts to graphite and am now sponsored by Callaway. My Dad is 6ft 1, but I think I might get to be a bit taller than him.”

It’s rather ironic that Weber’s WhatsApp profile picture is of him putting, when he doesn’t regard it as the strongest aspect of his game. He laughs when this is pointed out to him. “Ball striking is actually my strong point. I much prefer it to putting, even though I know how important it is to make the putts. Obviously I practise on the greens a lot, but I spend hours on the driving range hitting balls and improving my ball striking. That’s why I’m happy to go to the range after school every day. I can hit buckets of balls.”

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Even more importantly – and this counts for any 14-year-old with sporting talent – is that Weber genuinely enjoys the sport he excels at, and he is passionate about it overall.

“My dad used to play golf and I would tag along with him to the golf club, I think probably from the age of about two. Then I started to practise chipping in the garden at home, and it was when I was around seven years old that I decided I wanted to become more serious.

“I’ve won quite a few medals – you get one for finishing in the top three at a tournament – but winning the Proudfoot Trophy is by far the biggest moment so far. The trophy is at the GolfRSA offices but it’s something that will always have my name on it.”

Weber is fast becoming one of the jewels in the GolfRSA crown. He was inducted into the GolfRSA squad a year ago and has already had international experience. “I went to Italy and Zambia last year and I’m going to Zambia next in June. After that there’s a trip to Scotland.” He’s quick to add that he “doesn’t like to brag about his golf achievements”, but he’s going to have to get used to the attention.


Looking back at Weber’s Proudfoot Trophy victory.

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His favourite golfer is Rory McIlroy, and when pressed on why, the answer doesn’t come instantaneously. And then it’s clear – McIlroy hasn’t let fame go to his head. A fantastic player, four-time Major champion and former world No 1, but clearly a lot of fun off the course, as was seen by a recent viral video of him singing Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ at a karaoke session. “He is someone who is good for golf,” says Weber.

He admits to watching a lot of professional golf, “Every week there’s a tournament I turn on the TV and it’s amazing to see how well they do things at that level. I learn a lot from watching them.”

However, he mostly enjoys the outdoors. If it’s not on the golf course or driving range, it’s hunting and fishing, and he regularly spends time on his granny’s farm outside East London. Which also makes sense that his most memorable golf course experience was at Leopard Creek in January. “That was amazing,” he says. “While we were playing we saw hippo and kudu… playing golf and all that wildlife…”

While Weber was enjoying the best of both worlds, right now, the world is his oyster.