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This year marks the second annual Standard Bank Pro-Am Invitational. The golf tournament was launched in 2021 in Gauteng and has already become a highlight on the professional women’s and amateur (both male and female) golf calendar. But the tournament is about more than showcasing top-quality women’s golf on South African shores, and it’s just part of how Standard Bank is facilitating the development of women in sport.

Supporting growth in women’s golf

This year, the tournament went national, including additional regions such as the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and North West provinces in the series. This creates more opportunity for professional women and amateur golfers to sharpen their skills, increase playing time, and win impressive prizes. The Western Cape, in particular, has been working to formalise equal respect for women in sport, according to Western Cape Sports Ministry. To create accessibility to the sport for young girls through the golf clinics and more playing time for professional women, Standard Bank launched the first Standard Bank Golf Development Programme in the province this year. 

“The development programme is one of many initiatives sponsored by Standard Bank that aim to encourage the growth and support of women in sport,” says Schalk Kotze, Head of Affluent Clients at Standard Bank. “Though women’s golf has evolved tremendously in the country, we continue to bolster the circuit and encourage girls from all communities to try their hand at the sport and follow their career dreams. Because great golf is great golf, regardless of who is playing.” 

The Standard Bank Golf Development Programme in the Western Cape kicked off on 26 April, with weekly one-hour clinics held at the Durbanville Golf Club. In these sessions, a group of 15-20 girls are introduced to the sport and encouraged to develop basic skills required for playing the game. Thanks to specialised and effective coaching methods from professional coaches, the young beginners have the opportunity to excel from the first session.  

“After just a few months in the clinic, the girls have already learnt so much about golf and how they could build careers in one of most lucrative sports in the world,” says Jenny Havenga, founder of Lifestyle Golf and promoter of the Standard Bank Golf Development Programme. “It’s clear they’ve enjoyed every minute of their time with the coaches. We hope the clinics help foster a love of golf as well as a determination to pursue any and every sporting dream.”   

Talented women golfers in action 

While the Standard Bank Golf Development Programme supports the development of keen young golfers between the ages of 6 and 17, the Standard Bank Pro-Am series affords local women professional golfers the chance to play for a substantial prize fund. The second leg of the Standard Bank Pro-Am event took place at the Atlantic Beach Golf Estate in Melkbosstrand on 7 and 8 June.

Teams of four participated at the event, with each team comprising three amateur golfers (women or men) and one professional female golfer. Participants were in the running to win prizes sponsored by Standard Bank to the value of R160 000, including a R100 000 investment account for a hole-in-one, as well as R10 000 in UCount points for shots nearest-the-pins. The second stage of the event was a one-day pro tournament where professional scratch-handicap golfers competed for a R600 000 prize fund. Professionals who were on site included Cape local Tara Griebenow, win-hungry Tandi McCallum, accurate striker Francesca Cuturi, and four-time event winner Ivanna Samu.   

“Standard Bank’s sponsorship of the Pro-Am series and development programme highlights the bank’s commitment to providing support, services and lifestyle experiences that go beyond banking. We continue to partner with new players in the ecosystem to develop initiatives that will enrich people’s lives on a meaningful level and encourage more than a basic ‘transactional’ relationship,” concludes Kotze. 

The bank’s commitment to promoting equality and development extends beyond the Pro-Am series. These initiatives by Standard Bank link back to broader social issues such as the gender pay gap and the disenfranchisement of women in South Africa – challenges that the institution is continually fighting to rectify. DM/MS

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