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The following is a précis of a report in The Star dated 19 Nov. 1938:

Rand Natives are Becoming Good Golfers
Regular Club Matches Played on Eight Reef Courses

It may surprise people to know that there are, in Johannesburg alone, four native golf courses which, at the weekends, have scores of players out on them.  The Bobby Jones Club is, at the moment, the crack club.  The other three are the Pimville Club, the St Andrews Club at Orlando and the Wynberg Golf Club at Alexandra Township.  The Wynberg Club is the only one which boasts an 18-hole course.
On the Reef, outside Johannesburg, are four more clubs: one at Benoni, one at Stirtonville outside Boksburg, one at Germiston and one at Randfontein.  There is also a course in Pretoria.  Inter-club matches are played regularly with the seriousness of the best white clubs.

The course of the Bobby Jones Club is situated at Western native Township and might pass muster for a wilderness at any time.  And yet, with more than a little ingenuity, the members have carved out a nine-hole course.  Brickfields, ditches, drainage trenches and a marshy vlei form natural hazards not normally found on a golf course.  Greens are roughly smoothed patches covered with sand , averaging 10 feet in diameter (3m).  It is easier to putt with a mashie than with an orthodox putter.

A South African Open Championship is held each year.  In 1938 it was played over the Wynberg course and was won by J Dyasi with a 72-hole score of 332.   Michael Swartz was the runner-up.   In addition three provincial championships are played, the Transvaal Open, the Free State Open and the Griqualand West Open.

There is a spice of adventure about golf as the natives play it.  They never know from one day to another whether they are going to find their course in the condition in which they left it.  Someone may have dug some potclay out of one of the greens.  That is just too bad and they make another.  Or a sewerage trench may have been dug across the course.  That is equally bad luck.   Their concern is that their courses may disappear altogether to make way for development.  They play the game seriously and it would be a thousand pities if they were deprived of their courses.

 1947  In the days when the golf courses in and around Johannesburg on which non-white golfers played were little more than stretches of open veld, it was announced that a new non-European golf course called the BOBBY JONES GOLF CLUB was to be officially opened on the Sunday morning at the old racecourse, Newclare.   The current non-European champion, S Swartz, had been invited to drive the first ball.  Swartz had been champion for the past five or six years and played to a handicap of +2.   The Bobby Jones Club had obviously been forced to move from the site that they occupied in the pre-war years.  
 The Golfers’ Annual, published under the auspices of The Transvaal Non-European Golfing Union, appeared for the first time in 1953/54. The Chief Editor was S Mnisi and other members of the Editorial Board were Mr A Maqubela and Mr M W D Bookholane.  The Office Bearers of the T N-E GU were listed as:
            Patrons:        The Hon Mr Justice O Schreiner
                        Mr S F Brews
            President:        Mr A Maqubela
            Vice-Presidents:    Mr S Mnisi
                        Mr D Masigo
            Secretary:        Mr M W D Bookholane
            Ass. Secretary:    Mr A W Selepe
            Treasurer:        Mr M Boice
            Committee:        Mr R A Ditsebe
                        Mr P Tshoagong
                        Mr L Kathidi
    The death of Mr J Jass, a foundation member of the Wynberg GC and one of the founders of the T N-E GU, was reported.  “His untimely death came as a shock to all of us, particularly to the golfers of Alexandra Township, an area which, through the influence of this great figure, can be regarded as the home of Non-European golf.”

    The Golfers’ Annual reported on a number of the more important championships and tournaments.   The Transvaal Two-Ball Match Play Championship, undoubtedly the most popular tournament of the Union with 129 entries and played over the ‘beautiful’ Viceroy Golf Course in Alenandra, was won by reigning champion Bob Nkuna, who beat R Ditsebe in the 36 hole final by 10 and 9.    The Northern Transvaal Open Championship was inaugurated in 1953 and attracted a large entry.  It was played over 36 holes at the Methodist Golf Course, described as ‘one of the most difficult courses conceivable.’     It was won by E W Johnson (79 79 – 158) from B Nkuna (82 79 – 161), O Lee (80 82 – 162), R Ditsebe (86 79 – 165) and M Boice (86 81 – 167).   Another set of scores for a 72-hole event is given in the Annual but without stating which tournament they relate to.  It is almost certain that this is for the Transvaal Non-European Open.  The winner was B Nkuna (75 74 74 73 – 296) from D Masigo (74 75 75 73 – 297) and S Hlapo (72 79 78 69 – 298).

    Next follows the scores for the SA Non-European Open Championship which was played over the Kimberley golf course.   The winner with a record score was Bob Nkuna (70 75 79 73 – 297) from D R Phala (OFS) (76 74 75 75 – 300) and R Ditsebe (75 80 74 75 – 304).

    The Annual also gives the list of winners of the SA N-E Open:
        1949:    R Ditsebe (Tvl)    Kimberley      -
        1950:    J Gumbi (Tvl)        Bloemfontein     317
        1951:            No result
        1952:    E Johnson (Tvl)    Johannesburg      -
        1953:    B Nkuna (Tvl)        Kimberley     297
    In 1952 there was a triple tie which was played off over 36 holes.  The scores were: E Johnson (152), K Madlanga (153) and J Jass (154).
    This list of winners is at slight variance with the list in the records of SA Golf magazine.   This latter shows Johnson in 1951, Nkuna in 1952 and kathidi in 1953.   The above list is surely more correct.

    The next event reported in the Annual is the SA N-E Inter-Provincial Tournament, won in 1950 by Western Province at the Humewood Golf Course in Bloemfontein, in 1952 by Transvaal in Johannesburg and in 1953 by Transvaal in Kimberley.  This event is played concurrently with the SA Open, the provinces being represented by teams of four, all scores to count.  Teams were from the Transvaal (2), Griqualand West and OFS (2), the leading score being 308.  Drum Publications donated a trophy for the winning team.

    The “Bantu World” Tournament was one of the oldest sponsored by the T N-E GU and was made possible by the donation of a floating trophy for the winning team by Bantu News Publications.   This was an inter-club event, the format also being teams of four medal play all four scores to count.  In 1953 ten clubs entered and the winners were the Wynberg Golf Club on a total of 323, their team being S Hlapo (77), A Matsila (86), M Ntsoseng (83) and J Jass (77).

    The Viking Round Robin Tournament, formerly the Mike Round Robin Tournament, was introduced in 1952.  Players enter as individuals and play 36 holes stroke play to qualify.  The top 16 go through to the match play stages and play against the other 15.  Points are determined by the number of holes won or lost against each opponent.  There is a floating trophy awarded to the winner.  R Ditsebe won in both 1952 at Wynberg GC and in 1953 at Pimville GC.

    Another popular event was the Ranchool Golf Tournament, a better-ball medal competition played as an inter-club contest.  It was introduced in 1951 by the Treasurer of the Union, Mr B Ranchool, who also donated a trophy.  It proved to be very popular.  The 1953 Tournament was played at the Wynberg GC and was won for the second time in succession by R Ditsebe and B Bokeer of the Round Robin Golf Club.  Their scores were 69 in 1952 and 70 in 1953.

    Two stroke play championships on the calendar were the East Rand Open and the South Western Open, both played over 36 holes.   The former was played at the Germiston Central Golf Course and was won by B Nkuna (79 77 – 156) while the latter was played at the Homicide Golf Course in Klerksdorp and won by L Khathide (82 83 – 165), we are assured not in a sudden death.

    Last mentioned in the Annual, perhaps appropriately, is the Late Golfers’ Memorial Tournament.  It was staged in memory of all deceased members of the Union.  Originally a team of four format, it was changed to 18 holes medal in 1951.  The 1953 winner was K Madlanga (73) from W Chakale (77), D Masigo (78), A Mbata (78) and S Mdeni (78).

    Of particular interest where the Annual is concerned is the listing of all the golf clubs affiliated to the T N-E GU, together with the office bearers of the eleven major clubs.   The list, 32 in all, is worth quoting.
        Bobbie Jones GC (1933)    Central GC (1934)
        Homicide GC    (1949)        Evaton GC (1952)
        Payneville GC (1930)        Pimville GC
        Round Robin GC        Royal Mid-Surrey GC
        Sunningdale GC (1943)    Wynberg GC (1931)
        Penfold GC (1949)        Alexandra GC
        Alberton GC            Eligwa GC
        Goodall GC            Humewood GC
        Kliptown GC            Methodist GC
        Pollak Park GC        Peter Thomson GC
        Richmond GC            St Johnson GC
        Sandridge Park GC        Stirtonville GC
        Palmdale GC            Top Notch GC
        Viceroy GC            Dunlop Sixty Four GC
        Coombhill GC            Telford GC
        Pinpointers GC        St Andrews GC

On 15 July 1958 the editor of SA Golf received a letter from J B Gumbi and G M Mangema, captain and secretary respectively of the Johannesburg Bantu Golf Association Orlando.  It seems that, in addition to the Transvaal N-E GU, there was another body involved with the control of golf in the Transvaal.   The patrons of this body are listed on the letterhead as Bobby Locke, D T  Nicholas and M A Hough.   Apart from this letter there is no other mention of the JBGA in the records.

The Litchfield-Borman Tournament was played at Bethal and won by S Cox Hlapo, the SA Champion, on a score of 145.   It had been won the previous year by J Fiver Mazibuko.  The purpose of the tournament was to encourage the Dolcee Dorman Club which had recently affiliated to the T N-E GU.

Meanwhile, at the Wynberg course near Alexandra Township, no less than 18 teams entered for “The World” Trophy, an inter-club teams of four stroke play competition.  Winners were Kwa Thema GC from Springs on 289 from the holders, Humewood GC on 292.   This would not have been Humewood, Port Elizabeth!

A mixed foursomes championship was also held and was won by Miss Langa and M Boice on 78 from Mrs S Tau and D R Mashigo on 79.   This is the first mention in the records of non-white lady golfers.

Other events on the Transvaal calendar were a knock-out (match play) competition for women, the first ever, and played over the Wynberg course in Alexandra; the half-yearly competition for the Grant Trophy, organised by the Coombhill Club, played at the Pimville Stadium Course and won by London Kathidi by a single shot from Amos Mbata; the South Western Open to be played at Evaton GC; the Transvaal Fourball Knock-out to be played over the new Diepkloof course and, last of the year, the Viking Round Robin to be played at the Wynberg course.

The North Eastern Open Championship in 1958 was played at the Kwa Thema course in Springs and won in fine style by Johannes Roy Mahlatsi, a member of the Richmond Golf Club in Randfontein.  His score of 141 was four better than Simon Cox Hlapo, the defending champion, and L Shezi.  Mahlatsi had earlier won the Transvaal Open, a title which had also been held by Hlapo.   Of interest in the report is that several golfers were disqualified for slow play.


The Western Transvaal Non-European Championship in 1959 was played over the Richmond course in Randfontein and was won by James Mazibuko with 66 71  -  137.    Three players tied for second one shot behind including S Cox Hlapo, the SA and Transvaal Champion, who had long been recognised as the best of the non-European golfers.  “It would be most interesting to test how some of the leaders of non-European golf would fare on a good course.  The courses they play on are mere apologies”.


 The Transvaal Non-European Championship in 1960 was played over two courses, Viceroy and Wynberg.   The title was won by Bobby Tshabalala 67 68 65 68  -  268 from J F Mazibuko 67 67 68 68  -  270.  Cox Hlapo was third on 273 but had the low score of the championship with 63 in the second round.

Making a name for himself at this time was Johannes Semenya who started his golf involvement as a small boy caddie and had been appointed assistant professional at Waterkloof Country Club.  He finished fifth in the 1960 Transvaal Open, including rounds of 64 and 67 and was tipped to do well in the OFS Non-White Championship and the SA Non-White Championships, the latter being scheduled for Durban in December.


 The 1961 Transvaal N-E Championship, played over the Easter weekend at the Wynberg and Viceroy courses, attracted an entry of 112 players.  It was won by Simon Cox Hlapo with scores of 68 70 67 69 – 274 but not before he had been strongly challenged by D Motati, formerly from the OFS and current OFS champion.   Motati’s scores were 68 71 66 70 – 275.  Defending champion Bobby Tshabalala failed to make the cut, as had also been the case at the Natal N-E Open in Durban.

In a letter from the T N-E GU to the Editor of SA Golf the letterhead shows the Union’s office bearers as being:

  • Patrons:       Mr Justice Shreiner and Mr S F Brews
  • President:    Mr S Mnisi
  • Treasurer:    Mr A Selepe
  • Secretary:    Mr M W D Bookholane
1961-06 David “Bobby Locke” Motati came into his own when he won the Transvaal N-E Knock-out (match play) Championship.  He beat Phineas Mbuyisa 8 and 7 in the final.  Mbuyisa beat veteran golfer Cox Hlapo in the semi-final by one hole.  The venue was the Zola Golf Course in Johannesburg.
In April 1961 a notice appeared in the press reporting that the African Sports Aid Association, with headquarters in Orlando Township, had applied to the South African Professional Golfers Association for affiliation.   What this was all about is not known.
Irene Country Club had agreed to let the T N-E GU use their course for the 1962 Transvaal N-E Open Championship but, sadly, the Government refused to issue the necessary permit.   This was a last minute decision which caused much inconvenience to many of the golfers who had made the trip to Johannesburg  specifically to play in the event, not least Papwa Sewgolum.  There was general condemnation of the Government’s action.

An Invitation Championship was organised in 1963 by the Transvaal Non-European Golf Union and was played over the Wynberg course near Alexandra.   The course was 6256 yards long par 72.   It was described as being a man-sized course, the shortest two-shotter being 308 yards and the longest 416 yards.  The event was won by Cox Hlapo 69 72 67 66  -  274 with S Mdeni runner-up on 276.  The low score of the tournament was the 65 made by D R Mashigo in the third round.

The hope was expressed that the Benoni Country Club would be the venue for the Transvaal Non-European Championship in 1963.


And so it was.   The Benoni CC granted the use of their course for the Championship and the only score on record is that at the halfway stage Cox Hlapo led with 148, eight shots in front of the field.  He went on to win the title.

The Club also offered its course for one day during the SA Non-European Championship which was scheduled to be played at Glendower later in the year.  This was in order to accommodate those competitors who did not qualify for the last day’s play in the championship.

The Benoni Municipality had agreed to build an 18-hole course at Daveyton Native Township and the SAGU decided to assist them financially in this venture.   Some years later in February 1968 a report in The Star stated: “Work has begun on the Transvaal’s first 18-hole golf course for non-Whites at Daveyton Township, Benoni.  An amount of R15 000 is being spent this year on the course which is expected to take several years to complete.  The course is being built on old undermined mining land which is unsuitable for housing.  It was believed that there was only one other 18-hole golf course for non-Whites in South Africa, at Umlazi near Durban.”
The Benoni Country Club was ever prepared to host the major non-European events and did so again for the Transvaal non-White Championship in 1964.   Described as “the brilliant Natal Indian golfer from Durban”, Papwa Sewgolum was making perhaps his first appearance in the Transvaal and he duly obliged by winning in fine style with a four round aggregate of 284.   His third round of 65 (33 32) broke the course record.
The following year the Transvaal Non-White Championship was played at Glendower and Papwa Sewgolum won again, this time with scores of 70 70 71 71  -  282.
Good news for Soweto’s thousands of golfers was that development of the Mofolo golf course was to be speeded up.  The course, opened five years previously, was in bad condition to the point where golfers were even allowed to drop out of bunkers.  The original idea was that it would be equal to some of the top White courses.  Only nine holes had so far been completed.   There was no charge to use the course.  The report ended: “Top non-White golfers have to rely on the mercy of White clubs to allow them to play on Mondays when courses are generally closed.”
The 1969 Transvaal Non-White Championship was played at the Benoni CC and won in grand style by Ishmael Chowglay, the left-handed golfer from Cape Town who, similarly to Sewgolum, used a reverse grip, in his case left over right.   With scores of  73 68 73 73 – 287 he finished 20 shots ahead of N N’kosi.
1970 -02
Gary Player had apparently presented a trophy to the Transvaal Non-European Golf Union and, some days in advance of the 1970 SA Non-European Championship, an 18-hole stroke play competition was held at Benoni and was won by Papwa Sewgolum with a par score of 71.  V  Tshabalala, S Sepeng and R Anooplal tied for second on 73.
Papwa Sewgolum did not have it all his own way in the Transvaal Non-White Championship and in 1972, playing at Ohenimuri, he was beaten by Vincent Tshabalala.   In spite of a nine-over-par final round of 81, Tshabalala scraped in by two shots ahead of Papwa with a score of 295.   The days of playing the non-white championships on the make-shift veld courses was seemingly over and these main events were now always hosted by one of the ‘white’ clubs.
Luyt Lager were the sponsors of a tournament for non-whites to the tune of R1000 and this 72-hole event was won by Cox Hlapo in a sudden death play off from Papwa Sewgolum.  Hlapo ended the tournament with a great 25-metre putt for a birdie on the first extra hole.  As with the Transvaal championship earlier in the year, the tournament was played at the Ohenimuri Country Club.
The leading scores were:
        290    -    C Hlapo         S Sewgolum
        293    -    I Chowglay
        294    -    R Moegerane
        295    -    R Letsoalo
        296    -    V Tshabalala