In December, news filtered through that Sunshine Tour professional Musiwalo Nethunzwi was quitting golf.
It took a personal phone call from Selwyn Nathan, the commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, to get the talented Soweto golfer to change his mind.
Speaking at the Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Sishen Golf Club this week, Nethunzwi related how he had reached a point where he just couldn’t see a way forward in his career.
The struggles of trying to make it in the highly competitive world of professional golf had taken their toll.
And yet Nethunzwi was performing better than he perhaps gave himself credit for.
He won on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour in 2017 and has had several top tens on this tour. Nethunzwi finished 87th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit in the 2017/18 season, and 100th last season. He is currently 103rd on the local money list.
Nethunzwi’s talent was spotted early on when he was drafted into the SA Golf Development Board and earned provincial and national colours for golf. He turned professional in 2013.
But in his own mind, December represented rock bottom – until the phone call from Nathan.
“Selwyn spoke to me and told me that I had talent and must keep working hard. I also had a few close friends I spoke to,” he said.
It speaks volumes of how well liked Nethunzwi is because news of his quitting even reached India, where some individuals in the golfing community offered to try to help in any way they could.
As a member of the Gary Player Class – the Sunshine Tour’s talent identification squad that seeks to help further the professional careers of golfers such as Nethunzwi, who have come through the board or the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation – the golfer has support in moving his career in the direction he believes it needs to go.
He has enough inspiration around him as fellow Gary Player Class members Heinrich Bruiners, Keenan Davidse, Jacquin Hess, Makhetha Mazibuko and Toto Thimba Jr have all made positive strides in their careers.
Thimba took the biggest leap forward this year with his maiden Sunshine Tour victory in the KCB Karen Masters in Kenya.
In January last year, he gave another glimpse of his potential when he qualified for the BMW SA Open at Glendower Golf Club and then made it through to the weekend, finishing tied 51st.
“I’ve told myself that I’ll give myself five years to see what happens. I still love the game and I’m excited to be playing. I’m just going to do my best for the next five years and see what happens.
“I’m thinking of going over to the Asian Tour qualifying school at the end of the year. I’m still working towards it. I’m talking to a few people who are willing to help. I know I just need to go out there and put the numbers on the leader board and see what happens.”