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Western Province

1937-02 R G Fall, Editor of SA Golf, received an invitation to attend the Western Province Coloured Golf Championships which was to be held over 36 holes medal play at Sunningdale Park Golf Club, Ottery Road.  The invitation added: “As we have not got a proper Golf Course for Coloured Bretheren yet, we have to play on open fields.”
1948-04 Reported in the press was the fact of Coloured golfers in Cape Town having formed their own Western Province Coloured Golfers Association with more than 200 members.   The Association, of which Peter Louw was the Secretary, ran regular monthly medal competitions.  The April 1948 medal was played at the Midlands course and the net was won by O Harris (64 68 – 132) playing off a handicap of eight.  Winner of the gross was J Humby (72 74 – 146).
1948-05 Golf on the Cape Flats  -  SA Golf:  May 1948
Despite the proximity of other Coloured sports pitches, houses, cows, horses, unsuitable ground, etc., the Coloured community, under the leadership of Peter Louw, has developed a golf course and a club (or association) at Crawford, Cape Flats.  Over 200 mem¬bers are now enrolled and monthly (36-hole) competitions are held.  The players are of an excellent type, and their competitions are models: well ordered, with a very fine appreciation of the rules of golf.  The going is very rough; but if you lift, owing to any extraordinary bad lie anywhere, the penalty is one stroke.  There is no free lifting and dropping.  It is hoped that every effort will be made by European sportsmen to obtain for them a ground of their own, which they can fence, in order that they may be able to enjoy the game much better than at present.  The best player of the day in the last com¬petition was A. November, J. Matthews winning the Stableford handicap.  Ex-caddies of course take the lead! There is even a clubhouse - their "grand lady," Mrs. Theys, permits the members to use her house for this purpose.  Bogey for the course is 68 - seven 4's and two 3's - if you obtain bogey you're a double champion.  

The Coloured golfers were proud and happy on a recent occasion when Messrs. Hughie Michler (captain), Rex Mills and S.B.H. Gillett, prominent members of the Mow¬bray Club, looked in during a competition.  Mr. Gillett is also vice-president of the W.P.G.U.   What these golfers saw made them more strongly inclined than ever to help the non-Europeans to get a decent home of their very own.  A helping hand will soon be held out.  To start with one day soon Mowbray may organise a com¬petition for the members of this Coloured association at Raapenberg, numbers being kept within reasonable proportions by limit¬ing the event to those with handicaps less than 6 or some such low figure.  The players are well handicapped.  Whatever system they use is good.

P Dudley in action in the WP Coloured Championship.

P Dudley

One of the competitors in the Western Province Coloured Championship played over their six-hole course at Crawford, Cape. The player is P.Dudley, handicap 5, but judging by the action he won't be on a 5 for long!


At this time there were no less than four Non-European clubs under the jurisdiction of the Western Province (Coloured) Golf Association,  all with courses on the Cape Flats.

The winner of the Western Province Championship in 1954 was A November with scores of 76 78 – 154.  At a later function, prize-giving and dance, he was presented with the WP Championship Trophy which he had won at Somerset West.

“Conditions are never too good for the Non-European players.  They do all the work themselves and they are for ever under the shadow of losing their courses – security of tenure being nil – but they get a lot of fun out of the game at a very cheap rate.  Many of them are, of course, former caddies. Good luck to them.  They need a helping hand”.

1957-08 In 1954 land was set aside by the Parow Municipality for the building of a golf course for non-Europeans but nobody had the money to develop it.  The land was given to the Stonehill non-European Golf Club on condition that the Club arranged to clear it.  The Club was not able to find the money.   There was a realisation at the time that a good golf course for non-Europeans was badly needed, even a nine hole course.   There were five clubs in the Peninsula and about 300 members.

Mr Rex S Walker, captain of the Westlake Golf Club, who was also a patron of the Thornhill Golf Club (Cape Flats) for Coloured golfers, issued an appeal for support of an application by the Western Province Golf Union (Coloured) to the Cape Town City Council for help in establishing an 18-hole championship course for the use of Coloured golfers.

In the course of his appeal Mr. Walker said: "The enthusiasm which the Coloured population has directed towards the establishment of golfing facilities, despite great difficulties, is much to be admired.  It is known that among the numbers of non-European golfers are several with undoubted ability and an opportunity of developing this talent is much to be encouraged.

“I am sure that our appeal to the sports¬men in the community to assist in this venture will meet with sympathy, con¬sequently I would be glad of any assist¬ance you can give, and would also like to know if you have any ideas that might help in the furtherance of this project.”

Anyone desirous of helping the Coloured golfers was invited to address themselves to Mr. Walker at Westlake Golf Club.

Actually, non-European golf was a much bigger affair than the average golfer would have imagined at the time.   The Transvaal Non-European Golfng Union was made up of more than 30 golf clubs, and with the help of Euro¬pean friends it was able to publish an annual.  The Johannesburg and Germiston City Councils, no doubt among others, granted facilities to the non-European golfers that helped them very con¬siderably.

Other centres that encouraged the non-European golfers to a certain extent were Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Beaufort West.  “It is a right and proper thing to do”.  When the W.P.G.U. (Country) referred to a "championship" course it had its mind chiefly on the recrea¬tion facilities offered rather than on the holding of tournaments.

But when it came to the turn of the Western Province to be "host" club to a national championship golf tournament for non-European golfers, it certainly wanted something better than that which was offered, and accepted, at Thornhill.  The host club did not even have a tent to offer their guests, never mind about a clubhouse.  The course, despite the Trojan efforts of voluntary workers, was but a very poor imitation of what the non¬-Europeans in the Transvaal could offer.

“The Coloured golfers of the Western Province deserve their chance of providing themselves with decent facilities, and they should get it.  Who knows but  they could be held up later on by Europeans as an example of what can be done in the way of providing cheaper golf than is available to-day.   And the way they would do it would be to take their coats off and do something to help themselves.”


There had as yet been no further developments regarding the application put forward by the Non-European Western Province Golf Union to the Cape Town City Council for help in establishing a good golf course for the use of Coloured golfers.   Mr. Rex Walker, of the Westlake Golf Club, was championing the cause.   He had been in touch with Cape Coloured Affairs Department and also the Group Areas organization asking them to help him in this matter.  These schemes take time to get under way but Mr. Walker had already received enough support and encouragement that he felt that some good would come of the idea.

It is not out of place here to mention the help which the Westlake caddies received from the club both in regard to the aid from the Welfare Fund of the club and also the permission given to the caddies to play on the bottom nine holes at certain hours.  Far from damaging the course the caddies acted as unpaid caretakers, zealously safeguarding the club's welfare.

In connection with the application for land and aid in respect to a golf course for the Coloured golfers, a pleasing development was that Robert Grimsdell, the golf architect, had offered, on behalf of the Scottburgh Rotary Club, to assist Mr. Walker in a voluntary capacity with the preliminary lay-out plans.  “The golfers can consider themselves trebly fortunate should the application go through.”


Rex Walker received a letter from the WPGA telling him of their intention to launch a drive to raise 1000 pounds (R2000) by the end of 1958.  The Executive of the WPGU is listed on the letterhead as:

President:          V Hendricks
Chairman:          J Petersen
Vice Chairman:   J Adriaanse
Secretary:          B B Adriaanse
Treasurer:          R Brown

1958-03 On the Thornhill course on the Cape Flats a young non-European player, A Roman who came from the Midlands GC, scored a record 68 in the first round of the 1958 Western Province Coloured Championship.  The Midlands course was in Athlone.
Through Mr Peter Louw, Vice-President of the South African Non-European Golf Union, Mr F L Cannon, President of the Western Province Golf Union, presented a championship trophy.
On the very rough course of the Midlands GC in Athlone the club championship was won by J Petersen with returns of 70 73 – 143, five shots better than D Jacobs on 75 73 – 148.   The course was 9 holes, 3200 yards long and with a par of 74.   The greens were very bumpy and as often as not putting had to be done with an iron.   From this the ability of Petersen and Jacobs can be gauged.
Played over the brand new 18 hole course at Wettonville, another of the Cape Flats courses, the W.P. Open Non-European Championship in 1960 was won by P van Dieman.  With scores of 72 74 77 70 – 293 he finished two shots better than I Chowglay.  It was a close thing.  Van Dieman holed out from 70 yards at the last hole.  Conditions being as rough as they were, he could easily have taken three or four more strokes.  The prizes were presented by Mr F L Cannon, who “gave the players a word or two of hearty encouragement”.
The first European president of the W.P. Non-European Golf Union was Mr R K Bromley.  Some while previously he had presented a trophy to the Union but it was only played for the first time in 1960.  This first annual competition was won by W Sturk with gross 151 over 36 holes.  The runner-up was Y Osman on 153.   The Dan Hands Trophy was won by C Ziervogel.

By September 1960 the state of play regarding the proposed course for Coloureds was as follows:

  • - Bob Grimsdell, together with Rex Walker and R K Bromley, had inspected the proposed site in Athlone.
  • - Grimsdell was to do the layout at no charge; Spencer Mayne, Chairman of Greens at Royal Cape, was to give every help with respect to turf maintenance; Helen Wilson, Asst.Sec. at Royal Cape was to help with the typing, etc. and the Royal Cape greenkeeper, Mr Trill, was to give whatever help was needed.
  • - R K Bromley, Vice-President of the WP(N-E)GU, had established a fund in connection with the development of the course.  He had given 500 pounds (R1000) and in addition 50 pounds (R100) had been received from each of Ohlsson’s Breweries and Her worship the Mayor, Mrs J Newton-Thompson.  Trustees were MR J D Joseph, now the Chairman of the WP(N-E)GU, R K Bromley and Rex Walker.
  • - The WP Coloured GU committee said they could get contributions from 1000 members at 10 shillings (R1.00) per month.
  • - Grimsdell went on record as saying, “Apart from providing good golf, establishment of a course in Athlone will improve the township very much aesthetically  -  a green civilising influence.   The whole world, white, coloured, black, pink, yellow, could all do with some green civilising influence!!
1961-03 But there were snags.  A deadlock had arisen between the Housing Committee and the Finance Committee of the Cape Town Municipality.  The proposed site of the course was under the aegis of the Housing Committee and had not yet been handed over to the Amenities Committee for development as a golf course.  Included in the proposed site for the course was an area of about 20 acres which was owned by the National Council for the Care of Cripples.   A new site was found for the National Council’s premises but the Finance Committee was adamant that, if the swop was made, the National Council must start building within a two year period.   The National Council would not accept this condition and the Finance Committee would not budge.
In the end sanity prevailed and an agreement was reached and by the end of June 1961 the land for the course had been handed over formally to the WP Coloured GU.   The provision of this long-sought amenity was the realisation of a dream for hundreds of Coloured golfers in the Peninsula.  It was in 1957 that application for ground for a golf course had first been made.

At the time of this historic event the office bearers of the Western Province Coloured Golf Union were as follows:

  • President: R K Bromley
  • Vice-Presidents: D Hands
                               A Whittles
  • Chairman:  J D Joseph
  • Assistant Chairman: S J Samson
  • Secretary: Lionel Theys
  • Asst. Secretary: C Daniels
  • Treasurer:  K Watson
  • M&R Secretary: B Adriaanse
  • Asst. M&R Sec.: A November
  • Rex Walker and R G Fall were elected the first life members of the Union.
1961-08 Operation Sour-Fig or Operation Boskap!!   Almost 1000 Athlone school children converged on the site of the new golf course and began to pull out sour-fig plants.  One of the conditions laid down by the City Council was that the Coloured community should demonstrate ‘self-help’ by themselves clearing away wattle and sour-figs.   This was done on a large scale with much enthusiasm.

Another potential setback later in the year was a motion put to the City Council to rescind the decision that 140 acres in the Vygekraal River Valley should be developed as a golf course for Coloured people.  The argument was that very few people would benefit from the course; that it would cost more than the members could pay to keep it in order; and that in years to come the course would become derelict.  The project was described as a ‘wildcat scheme’.    Strong arguments were put in favour of the original decision and after a two hour debate the motion to review and rescind the previous resolution was defeated.

As at January 1962, R29 000 had been obtained from the City Council for the construction of the course and donations had been received from such organisations as Caltex and United Tobacco for an amount of R4 000 towards a target of R10 000 for a clubhouse and course machinery.   One of the donors was Gary Player who gave R60 to the fund and R3 000 was given by the Government “as tangible proof of the Government’s desire to support the establishment of separate sports facilities for non-Whites”.   It was suggested that this was the policy the Government was holding out as justification for banning the previous week’s non-White golf tournament at the White Irene course.  As such it was described as “an apartheid grant” and many prominent members of the Coloured community were by no means happy with this.  The Irene banning is mentioned elsewhere in this history.

1962-04 Meanwhile it appears that an alternative site to the one already allocated was now being considered, in extent 150 acres.   The Administrator, J N Malan, was firmly of the opinion that the alternative site was the better for a golf course.   The larger area would allow for the construction of a full championship course.  It was confirmed that Robert Grimsdell would do the design and supervise construction.
1963-02 There were 108 entries for the 1963 W.P. Coloured Championship which was hosted by Westlake Golf Club.  The winner was P Lendis (318) from R Daniels (320).  There was a tie for third place on 322 between J Lewis, Y Osman and Polly November, the previous year’s winner.  Joint winners of the ‘B’ Division were S Lendis and S Adams and of the ‘C’ Division A Dick.  The trophy presented some year earlier by Mr R K Bromley was now a teams-of-four event and was won by the Mountain View Golf Club, K Williams, P Lendis, K Herman and J M Abrahams.   Mr Bromley, as President of the W.P. Coloured Golf Union, thanked Westlake for the loan of the course and he also thanked the Department of Community Development for permission to stage their tournament on a European course. Mrs Rex Walker presented the prizes.
1963-07 The appointment of Bob Grimsdell as the architect for the new Athlone course at a fee of R3 000 was endorsed by the City Council’s Finance Committee.
1963-11 Golf was not only popular in Cape Town and environs but was also being played by the Coloured community in the smaller Boland Towns.  An example is Caledon where in 1963 the Caledon Golf Club gave the non-whites the courtesy of their course for the local Non-White championship.   See also an entry for 1972 01.
1964-02 The construction of the new golf course in Athlone was approved by the City Council and an increased amount of R33 600 was allocated for the project.  It was a great day for Cape Town’s Coloured golfing community.   There was still concern regarding the viability of the project but in answer to the accusation that golf would not be afforded by the average man-in-the-street, Bromley stated that the entrance fee to the club would be R1.00 and a year’s subscription R12.00.

A very successful W.P. Non-European Championship was hosted by Royal Cape Golf Club in 1964, made all the more noteworthy by the presence of Papwa Sewgolum whose golf was of the highest possible standard.  With scores of 68 and a brilliant 65 in the first two rounds he left the field standing and his relatively modest final two rounds of 72 and 70 for a total of 275, 17 under par, brought him the title by the huge margin of 27 shots.   The runners-up were Ishmael Chowglay and Pieter van Dieman, both pretty good golfers themselves, but on the day no match for Papwa.   Papwa was perhaps at his best at this time, winning the Natal Open title against all opposition black and white in 1963 and 1965 and finishing second in the SA Open in 1963.  He was certainly a joy to watch and his behaviour both on and off the course was an object lesson to all golfers.

The success of the tournament was largely due to Royal Cape GC who did everything possible for the comfort and happiness of the competitors.  Players had special reason to be thankful to Mr Jack Plummer, an executive member of the WPGU and member of Royal Cape, who collected R500 prize money from friends and supporters.  As a result there was prize money for the first ten in the Championship; the first three in the net division handicaps 11-18; the first two in the 19-23 section; the four members of the Mountain View GC; a special prize for J Doos, an 84-year-old competitor; R5 for every round under 70.  Papwa was the only golfer to collect under this heading.   Mr Plummer and Virgoe Buckland (Sec of the WPGU) helped considerably in the organisation.

1964-07 By mid-1964 work on the new course at Athlone had started.  Bush clearing was well advanced, a contract had been awarded for fencing and by the year end orders had been placed for the pipework for the water reticulation.   Four greens had been laid out and were ready for grassing.  The budget had by now gone up to R53 600.   This did not include money for the clubhouse which was still not fully funded and appeals were being made to the White clubs for donations.   The predicted opening date was April 1966.    This was not achieved and it was not until the 1966/67 season some months later that the first nine holes were open for play.   The full course was opened in the summer of 1967/68 and the first Western Province Championship played on the new course in April 1968.   This was won appropriately by Ishmael Chowglay from a field which included Papwa Sewgolum.
The W.P. Coloured Championships from year to year typically involved professional golfers who were playing for prize money, small as that might be.   For the first time on record a W.P. Coloured Amateur Championship was held and the venue was the Milnerton golf course.   It was played as a 72 hole stroke play event and was won by Michael Godfrey (310), one shot less than J Petersen and V Lewis who tied for second place.  There was an entry of 78.

Ishmael Chowglay, for a number of years regarded as the best non-white golfer in the Western Province, won the 1967 WP Open Championship at King David CC with a score of 77 77 77 75  -  306.  He was the only player to break 80 in all four rounds.  Runner-up was W Lewis, also from the Western Province, on a total of 313, including the best round of the tournament, 72.   D Motati, winner of the 1966 SA Non-White title, was leading with nine holes to go, but he found plenty of trouble in the King David rough and took 87 for his final round and a total of 314.   His final nine holes must have been horrific!

Also in the field was the firm favourite, Papwa Sewgolum, who had just recently won the 1967 SA Non-White Open at Paarl, but he had to retire from the tournament after two rounds owing to ill health.   At this stage he was well in the running with a two-round total of 155.

The King David CC closed the clubhouse for the duration of the tournament and no European members or spectators were allowed on the course, much as they might have wished to see the play.

There was a large entry for this championship, which augers well for the new Coloured course at Athlone.

The 1968 Western Province Non-European Championship was played on the newly-opened Athlone course for the first time and was won by the holder, Ishmael Chowglay with a score of 297.  Papwa Sewgolum was runner-up on 305.  Chowglay played steady golf throughout while Sewgolum got off to a poor start with 83 in the first round and could never recover from this set back.
1969-03 Papwa Sewgolum did not play in the W.P. Championship every year but when he did make the trip to Cape Town he was always a major threat.   So it was at the relatively new Athlone course in 1969 when he came to Cape Town as the South African Non-European Champion and won the W.P. title as well.  His four round total was 296 (74 74 76 72) with Vincent Tshabalala runner-up on 298.  Papwa had to wait for the last round before he obtained the lead but his brilliant 72 was too good for the opposition.
1969-07 A measure of the popularity of golf amongst the non-white community was evident when the Louis Buyskes Cup competition was held at Worcester in 1969.   This was a teams-of-four inter-club event and no less than 15 teams took part, coming from as far afield as Beaufort West and Mossel Bay.   The background and history of the Louis Buyskes Cup is not on record but is an indication of the support that was being given to non-white golf by the ‘white’ clubs.
1969 07
1969 The 1969 Western Province Championship was won by Ishmael Chowglay.  No details or scores are available.
1970-03 Ishmael Chowglay, defending champion, had a great victory in the 1970 Western Province Championship held at the Athlone GC.   With scores of 79 76 72 75 – 302 he beat A van Rooyen (306) into second place.  His prize money was R200.  Leading amateur was H H Lewis on 321.
1972-01 The Athlone course had been open for a few years and it must be assumed that, because of this, the Caledon GC did not extend the courtesy of their course to the non-White golfers as they had done some years before.   Certainly the Non-White Caledon Open in 1972 was played at the Athlone course.  The event was played in three divisions and the names of the trophies for each makes interesting reading.  The A Division competed for the Maypole Floating Trophy and was won by A McKenzie; the B Division competed for the B P Laing Trophy and was won by S Carson; and the C Division competed for the Jannie le Roux Trophy and it was won by G Joorst.  Here again there is evidence of the support being given to the non-white golfers by their white counterparts.  Jannie le Roux came originally from Caledon and went on to be one of South Africa’s finest amateur champions.
1973-04 The 1973 Western Province Open was played on the Athlone course and was sponsored by Edblo Phantasy.   With scores of 74 and 71 Ishmael Chowglay was leading by two shots after the first two rounds.  Nothing is on record regarding the four-round scores.  It is fair to assume that Chowglay went on to win.  He was at that time the leading player in the Western Province and one of the best in the country.
1973-04 Comment by Ken Elkin, Professional at Mowbray Golf Club, on the need for a municipal course in Cape Town and on the deteriorating condition of the Athlone course makes interesting reading.
1976-04 It was Papwa Sewgolum again, in a canter, winning the 1976 Western Province Open by six shots from J Chetty.  His scores were 78 70 76 77 – 301.   Chetty was on 307 followed by S Dondashe on 309 and, a new name but one which will be heard of again, N Maart on 310.   Papwa and Maart were level after 45 holes but then Papwa started to forge ahead.   The event was again sponsored by Edblo and, it must be assumed, was played on the Athlone course.
1978-04 The first definite statement of the Athlone course being closed is in a press report dated April 1978 in which the matter of the commercial development of the land is debated.  The thought was that it was more suited to recreational usage and housing.  The sadness was that the course did not survive.   The anti-lobbyists on the City Council way back in 1962 were proved correct.   It did indeed cost more than the members could afford to keep it in order and, unless maintained as a public facility by the Municipality as suggested by Ken Elkin, it had to close down.


P Dudley