By Denzil Jooste
I know I’m tired of talking about COVID-19 and I’m sure you are too, however what does COVID-19 and the current economic situation hold for our precious South African Golf Courses?
There has been a first death due to COVID-19 in the Free State, and this time its not person that has died but a Golf Course, as per the article written by Stuart McClean of South Africa’s Top 100 Courses, Vaal de Grace has succumbed to the dire economic situation currently facing South Africa, a very sad day indeed as our beloved SOS held a golf tour there a few years ago which was very enjoyable!
The question now is how many other courses in SA will face a similar fate? We hope none however it a sad reality that many courses were in serious economic trouble even before COVID-19 and this could spell the end of many more. In the same article as mentioned above two other courses are facing imminent closure, these being Randfontein and Leeukop, both courses have been around for many years but now face the stark reality of Joining Vaal de Grace and the old Crown Mines on the closed list.
With Golf losing many people to other sports, this pandemic is now exacerbating the situation that could be a point of no return for many courses, we need to rally behind the clubs and courses we love in order to keep them going and support them as much as we can.
As a loyal member to my beloved Benoni Country Club (yes an East Rander boet) for many years I’ve seen the club grow from strength to strength by reinventing itself and not resting on its laurels. Ssimilarly to Huddle Park, they have added a Mountain Bike track, a Craft beer bar, pizza oven, indoor-outdoor soccer pitches and league and foodie evenings etc. These have transformed the club, and the member base is extremely strong and probably at its best level in years if not ever.
This is my opinion, and I am guessing here, but even a club in such a strong position is still impacted by COVID-19 to some extent where its now on the back foot when we come out of this. I reach out to all current, old and new golfers, please support your local club and lets grow the game again and make it a game that youngsters and old addicts want to start again!!