Golf development in South Africa has always been about more than just the game.
This is being proven once again through the opportunity being granted to 13-year-old Devon Thomas from Somerset West.
Thomas, who is one of the SA Golf Development Board (SAGDB)'s most promising players in the Western Province, will be flying to Sweden in July this year, thanks to an initiative by the "Swedish Squirrels" at the Somerset West Golf Club.
Thanks to financial support from the Squirrels and backing from the club and the SAGDB, Thomas will have the chance to see a completely different part of the world and play on five or six Swedish courses.
The experience he gains in playing in different conditions and meeting different people will make a huge contribution to his development as a player and an individual. Thomas turned down the chance to represent the Western Province Under-14 team so that he would be available for the trip.
Olle Melin, who is a member of the "Swedish Squirrels" and the initiator of the project, first played with Thomas about a year ago and immediately appreciated his manner on and off the course.
He not only saw that Thomas was a promising young player, but that he had received a thorough education from the SAGDB on how to behave on the course and treat other people.
"Before you die, you must do something good," Melin says. "I have quite a poor background myself, but people took care of me and I had a good life."
Melin was also motivated by the learning experience the trip will present, not just for Thomas, but also for people in Sweden who will see first-hand what is taking place in South Africa.
"Last year I took a player to Sweden and I know how good it was for him," he said. - Sapa