Papwa Sewgolum dared to dream and succeeded in the face of devastating adversity. Photo by Fairfax Media Archive

By Staff Reporter

South African professional golf has hit the ball out of the cat box for historically disadvantaged professional golfers, with the new Papwa Sewgolum Class.
With the support from major corporate sponsors, this initiative will combine more playing opportunities to promote greater inclusion in the game.
The support comes from Investec, SuperSport, Betway, VAT It, DNI, Credit Guarantee, Cobra Puma and TaylorMade, and The Papwa Foundation.
A total of 61 formerly underprivileged golfers, including experienced professionals such as Dylan Naidoo, Keenan Davidse and Heinrich Bruiners, as well as the younger generation of Franklin Manchest and Karabo Mokoena, will be granted opportunities to ace their professional careers as the first intake of the Papwa Sewgolum Class for the 2022/23 season.

Papwa Sewgolum
Sewsunker Papwa Sewgolum was a top class golfer, with little formal schooling. In fact he attended school up to Standard 2 (Grade 4).
When his father died, Papwa was 13 years old and, left with the responsibility of looking after his mother and younger brother. He had to leave school and find work.
An autodidactic golfer, who could barely read or write, Papwa dared to dream and succeeded in the face of devastating adversity, which included a racist golfing establishment and – in a classic irony of apartheid logic – a government which actively undermined his accomplishments and outrageously humiliated and scorned him.
Papwa is famous for his reversed, cross-handed grip (called the “Sewsunker” grip even today). But he is possibly most famous for beating Gary Player and winning the 1965 Natal Open.
The Natal Open was held at the Durban Country Club, which at the time did not allow black people into the clubhouse. Sewgolum won the tournament, the only black people in a field of 113 players.
At the time of the prize-giving, he had to receive his trophy outside, in the pouring rain, while the white players sat comfortably inside.
The pictures of him in the rain were broadcast around the world, resulting in an international outcry and a number of countries imposing sanctions on South African sporting events.
Just as his career looked as if it would take off, the South African government banned him from all local tournaments, and also withdrew his passport, preventing him from competing abroad.
Deriving from being denied the right to play the game he loved, Papwa was said to be a broken man, struggling to survive and staring forlornly at his golf trophies. He died a pauper in 1978.
“The establishment of the Papwa Sewgolum Class 2022/23 not only recognises Papwa’s role in highlighting the need for golf to be more inclusive, but it also contributes to building a lasting legacy in keeping with the notable success he achieved at home and abroad,” said Jehad Kasu, executive board member and spokesperson of The Papwa Foundation.
“We are encouraged by the Sunshine Tour’s commitment to meaningfully transform the sport in collaboration with the Papwa Foundation and look forward to crystallising a lasting partnership through which we enable an opportunity to all qualifying, aspirant historically disadvantaged golfers, to achieve greatness.”

Comprehensive Development Initiative
The Papwa Sewgolum Class is one of the most comprehensive development initiatives within South African sport which seeks to build on the work done by the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) and GolfRSA to identify the raw amateur talent within the game, and to then provide a sustainable pathway into the professional arena for historically disadvantaged golfers.
Naidoo is a key example of what the Papwa Sewgolum Class aspires to achieve, with the rising star having come through the ranks of securing his playing privileges via the Vusi Ngubeni Tournament for historically disadvantaged professionals and winning on the Altron Big Easy Tour before progressing to his place on the Sunshine Tour where he finished third in the Rookie of the Year race in 2020 behind current PGA Tour and DP World Tour stars Garrick Higgo and Wilco Nienaber.
Naidoo has now also secured his playing privileges on the Korn Ferry Tour in the United States, which is the main feeder tour to the PGA Tour.
Davidse has also used his opportunities to move to the next level in his career, working his way up to his current Sunshine Tour status and finishing a career-high of 16th on the Luno Order of Merit for the past season.
He has also progressed onto the Challenge Tour, the main feeder Tour to the DP World Tour.

Sunshine Tour and Altron Big Easy Tour
The inaugural Papwa Sewgolum Class for this season will have greater opportunities to compete on the Sunshine Tour and Altron Big Easy Tour through the expanded schedules and increased prize money offered on both these tours, and with monthly financial assistance towards their tournament golf expenses, including their tournament entry fees.
The Altron Big Easy Tour alone, one of the main areas of competition for the Papwa Sewgolum Class, will feature ten tournaments in a schedule that commenced in May and running till September and has record prize money.
The prize money for each 36-hole tournament will be R150 000, which is an increase of R50 000 per tournament from the 2021 season.

Quality Coaching
The Papwa Sewgolum Class golfers will also receive access to quality coaching, golf courses, gyms and fitness instructors at the World of Golf. TaylorMade and Cobra Puma Golf will provide them with equipment and apparel, and they will have access to a sports psychologist and career counselling.
Further career paths within the golf industry have also been created through a partnership with the PGA of South Africa that allows for members of the Papwa Sewgolum Class to begin the qualification to become recognised PGA professionals.

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