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​The Joburg Open begins with a development clinic at the Alexandra Driving Range, where professionals will show the youngsters how it’s done.
ASPIRANT young golfers from the teeming township of Alexandra will get the chance to learn more about the game from the best-qualified people for the job – local and international professional golfers – at a development clinic hosted as part of the Joburg Open.

Youngsters practise their swings at the Ale Driving RangeYoungsters practise their swings at the Alex Driving RangeThe Joburg Open Golf Development Clinic always takes place two days before the tournament begins, falling this year on 10 January. It is held annually at the Alexandra Driving Range, and includes about 80 of the township’s young hopefuls.

According to the City’s director of events, Bongi Mokaba, the clinic aims to make golf more accessible as well as develop the skills of talented young South African players.

Golf is mostly seen as an elite sport, but the hosting of development clinics such as the one related to the Joburg Open is helping to dispel these kinds of myths and stereotypes. Some of these developmental players even go on to represent South Africa at top level.

This is the major advantage of the clinic, which also serves as a legacy of the Open. “It is good to see South Africans pulling themselves up and proving themselves,” Mokaba says.

“The Joburg Open has enabled them to improve and allowed them a platform.” It is for this reason that three developmental players are included in the main tournament, playing alongside and competing against 206 professionals and the top amateur in the country.

Each of the previous development clinics has been enormously successful, with last year being no exception. Ireland’s Darren Clarke stepped into the role of teacher, and helped the children with their swings and stances.

He said at the time: “It’s always great fun to attend these clinics. As professionals, we are fortunate to have a wealth of experience and it’s always nice to share that and give back what we can to the kids.”

This year’s clinic promises to be as interesting and informative as its predecessors. Top-ranked golfers such as two-time winner of the Joburg Open and champion of the 2011 US Masters, Charl Schwartzel, and golfing hero Retief Goosen, will be leading by example for their young fans.

City officials also take part in the Pro-Am (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)City officials also take part in the Pro-Am (Photo: Enoch Lehung, City of Johannesburg)Following the clinic, is the Pro-Am on 11 January, when three amateurs and one professional team up in a four ball and compete against other four balls. The main tournament will begin on 12 January, featuring a field of 210 golfers vying for victory on the verdant fairways of the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club in Linksfield North.

The Joburg Open is celebrating its sixth year, and Schwartzel will be aiming for his hat trick as the “King of Joburg”. Joburg residents can catch the action on the golf course from the front line, by attending any or all of the days of play.

Tickets are on sale at the gate of the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club until 16 January; single tickets are R30, and a full event ticket, which covers all four days, it is R80. It is free for pensioners and children under the age of 16.

Alternatively, Supersport 1 will broadcast all four days of action between 12noon and 4pm.

The Joburg Open sets the tone for the upcoming year of golf, as it is a co-sanctioned Order of Merit event on the PGA European Tour and Sunshine Tour. Sponsors include the City of Johannesburg, Bwired, Volvo and Legacy Hotels and Resorts. New sponsors have also got involved in the tournament this year, and BMW, Investec, EOH and Primedia Outdoor are the latest companies to join the competition.

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Joburg Open