To greener fairways: ANC stalwart opens ‘symbolic’ golf day

2012-01-07 00:00

AS a kid in Soweto in 1937, Andrew Mlangeni and his mates played with home-made clubs on their own sand golf course and dreamed big dreams.

Then in 1963, as one of the Rivonia trialists, he was sent to Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and others, but 26 years and four months in the notorious prison didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for the game.

Mlangeni (now “86 years and seven months”) opened the ANC centenary golf tournament yesterday in Bloemfontein with a teeshot that drew cries of admiration.

“Bhaba Mlangeni!” shouted the golf-playing comrades as his shot landed 250 metres down the fairway.

He told sister paper Volksblad that in 1989 he played for the first time on a grass golf course, the Soweto country club’s course, which didn’t exist when he went to jail.

“On grass … hey, that was beautiful!”

As a child, he caddied at the Johannesburg Country Club. Now he is the leading member of the Soweto club where he plays with a 16 handicap.

Mlangeni didn’t know why the ANC chose to open its party with a golf day, but said it was symbolic.

“It could have been soccer, but golf shows how far the country has come,” he said.

Mlangeni is the oldest MP and a member of the sports portfolio committee. He said he won’t make himself available in the 2014 election.

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