Local golfers aim to revive game

By Michael Uugwanga

THE sport of golf in Namibia continues to play second fiddle to more established sport codes, such as football, rugby, cricket, athletics, netball and boxing, but it’s just a matter of time before golf takes its rightful place among the premier sport codes in the country.

Around the globe, golf is one of the most watched sports and is ranked in 10th position in the world as the most popular sport with an estimated global following of 450 million. Its primary influence is in Western Europe, East Asia and North Africa.

In Africa the sport is yet to take off in a major way, although Africa has produced some world class golfers, such as Gary Player, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Louis Oosthuizen, Bobbe Locke, Charl Schwartzel, David Frost, Trevor Immelman and Namibia’s own Trevor Dodds.

Amateur golfer Likius Nande is currently the country’s most exciting golfer, while Joe Nawanga remains a renowned golfer on the Namibian golf circuit, as he is widely considered to be the first professional black golfer to come out of Namibia.

Another prospect to look out for is Celliers  Sachse, currently ranked number one  junior player in Namibia, while the top female golfers are Wilna Bredanhann, Wilmarie Woest, Adri Pienaar and Brenda Lens and Caro Els, who is undertaking studies in the United States of America on a golf scholarship but is expected back in the country next year.

Namibia has 15 golf courses.

Six of those courses have full grass courses; three have green grass and the remainder are gravel with oil greens.

Speaking to Confidente Sport Desk about the growth of golf and how the Namibia Golf Federation (NGF) intends to develop the sport, secretary-general of NGF Brenda Lens said a lot has been achieved by the federation and more developments are set for the near future.

The NGF this year received the Team of the Year award that went to Namibia Amateur Golf at the Namibia Annual Sports Awards in Ondangwa recently.

“Oshakati is in the process of revamping their golf course and we are very excited to see the development. The Namibia men’s team, which consisted of Likius Nande, Grant Mather, Stanley Gawanab and Kevin Wentzel, participated in the Regional All-Africa Games that were held at Rossmund Golf Club in Namibia, in which nine countries participated with Namibia coming in second place behind overall winners South Africa.

“The Namibia ladies team competed at the regionals in Swaziland earlier this year. Though they were not amongst the top countries they did a good job representing Namibia. Namibia Amateur Ladies Golf Union (NALGU) continued with the mix pair golf tournament events during the year to develop ladies golf. This tournament consists of one lady and one man in a team, the format is American Scramble on all shots. These events are very successful and an average of 50 percent of the ladies in the field are non-handicappers, starting to play. This tournament is used to introduce golf to the public,” said Lens.

Namibia will host the All Africa Challenge Cup Ladies in 2020 and the federation is working hard on the development aspect.

“NALGU won the bid to host the Ladies Cup next year at Rossmund Golf Course. The junior development and coaching continues at five golf courses across Namibia. We are proud to announce that Oshakati Golf course joined hands with the Namibia Junior Golf Federation (NJGF) to promote golf amongst the juniors at their club, bringing the total to six clubs.”

Lens said they have some developmental success and that 45 players from disadvantaged backgrounds were supported over the past two years. “The junior tournaments also increased from three to nine tournaments per year. On average the increase in junior participation in tournaments rose from 18 to 42 players per tournament.  Oshakati, Tsumeb and Walvis Bay currently have several juniors in training, we are expecting great things from them,” she said.