golf academies

As South Africa continues to celebrate increasing professional and amateur golfing success on the international stage.

So, this is a shout-out to all the golfing academies and foundations who are collective centres of excellence integral to the success of South African golf. Each of them has a different dynamic and they are headed by individuals and teams dedicated to the development of golfers.

In touching on some of them, this doesn’t mean we are “ranking them”. However, they provide a snapshot into the diversity and longevity of the system.

It’s pertinent that we start with one of South Africa’s golfing legends. Several household names have come through the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation (EE&FF), which was established in 1999, not least of whom are Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Christiaan Bezuidenhout.


Get an inside look at how the boys from Bramble Hill Golf Academy prepared for the 2024 SA Stroke Play Championship.

In addition to these, the likes of Toto Thimba Jnr, Heinrich Bruiners, Luca Filippi and Thriston Lawrence have found success in the professional ranks, while present member Altin van der Merwe has become SA’s No 1 amateur since joining the foundation. Jovan Rebula, who became only the second South African to win The Amateur Championship, is also a graduate.

The EE&FF’s involvement is hands on as they keep in daily contact with all members. Each player has a WhatsApp group where coaches and parents interact. They are supported and guided to make sure they focus on their tertiary education and prepare properly before they go to tournaments.

Other former members including Larissa du Preez, Zethu Myeki, Kaleigh Telfer and the Duma sisters, Siviwe and Yolanda, have all played on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, while Kaiyuree Moodley has continued to flourish as an amateur.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, launched the Louis Oosthuizen Junior Golf Academy in 2009, which has grown into a four-tier golf and golf development programme. In 2013 the academy paired with Pinnacle Point Golf Club as the venue. Since January 2015, the Louis57 Academy has served the entire Southern Cape (from Heidelberg to Plettenberg Bay). The most recent winners of The Amateur Championship, Christo Lamprecht and Aldrich Potgieter, are products of this academy which, like others, focuses on areas including golf development and performance-driven golf; personality development of juniors, and golf-orientated life skills development of the juniors.

SuperSport presenter OG Molefe is also making an impact. “In South Africa, there is an undeniable lack of access to opportunities for young black South Africans that has also led to non-equitable representation throughout golf,” he says of forming the OG Molefe Foundation six years ago. Having aided and introduced over 100 children to golf, one of their proudest achievements was in 2019 when they secured and converted a shipping container into a library that served as an after-school centre for the children they help in Soweto.

A product of the system is Khanya Mkhize, who plays on the Bushveld Tour and is helped by Llewellyn van Leeuwen, a PGA of South Africa teaching professional, and mental coach Theo Bezuidenhout.

Kyle Phelan has been a PGA of SA professional since 2012, and his Phelan Golf Academy at Centurion Golf Estate is creating positive attention. His programmes cater for six streams: juniors starting out, developing juniors between 9 and 12, the same for ages 12-15, elite juniors for regional and national level and elite golfers. He also has a pro squad who follow an elite programme geared to assist an aspiring pro in technical, physical and tactical aspects of the game.

Former Tour professional Grant Veenstra (2004-2017) has a successful academy and coaching set-up at Ebotse Links. The students’ academic excellence is of primary concern and the GVG Academy’s coaches support them on their journey through sport, life, studies and personal growth.

Veenstra has sculpted the games of what reads like a who’s who of South African golf: in 2024 alone some of his high achievers locally and globally who have come through the Academy have been impressive: Jayden Schaper, Hennie du Plessis, Zander Lombard, Dylan Mostert and Yurav Premlall to pluck out just five.

GolfRSA National Squad coach Roger Wessels is the head coach of Bramble Hill Golf Academy, which offers the Cambridge International Curriculum, recognised by universities and employers worldwide. In addition to the academic side, the programme also covers tournament management, gym and mental fitness training and coaching. Some of the learners enrolled in the programme include top Southern Cape amateurs Zané Naude, Max Hanson, Sylken November and Zimbabwean Keegan Shutt, who recently fired a course-record 10-under-par 62 at Leopard Creek during the inaugural Africa Amateur Championship.

Michael Balderston, an Englishman who moved to South Africa at the age of 25, and who is a member of the PGA of GB & Ireland and the PGA of SA, launched the BSI (Balderstone Sport Institute) Golf Academy in 2004. Based at Huddle Park, it’s golf programme include a three-year course for post Matrics to attain a PGA Golf Diploma. He has a full-time junior academy for ages 14-18, a one-year greenkeeping course and golf academy programmes – elite training programmes for competitive golfers in preparation for a playing career. Graduates of BSI include Sunshine Tour players Toto Thimba, Stefan Engel Anderson, Stuart Smith and Dayne Moore and rising star Vuyisani Makama, a member of the GolfRSA National Squad, is currently enrolled in the programme.

The TuksGolf ​​​​​​​Academy is one of the best tertiary facilities in the country, supported by an experienced management and coaching team. The academy provides the opportunity for young talented golf athletes to intensify and specialise in golf-specific performance programmes including Young Adult, Tuks Teens, as well as long-team athlete development and the PGA of South Africa coaching qualification.

“It is important for GolfRSA to acknowledge each academy and foundation, as well as our golf clubs and unions, who play an integral role in the development of golfers, in the sport and in life,” says GolfRSA CEO Grant Hepburn.

“It’s not only about golf, as a key component is the growth and upskilling of the individual. Without the quality of the academies and foundations in South Africa and the relationships we have forged to work together to further the careers of our rising talent, GolfRSA wouldn’t experience the success that we do at elite level.”


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