GolfRSA launched a R1-million relief initiative on Monday, aimed at helping caddies and casual workers at golf facilities who have been adversely affected by the countrywide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
GolfRSA - the umbrella body for amateur golf in South Africa - intends to reach those individuals who have not yet benefited from any financial support by introducing the GolfRSA Covid-19 Relief Fund.
"It's no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the golf industry and, with more than 400 golf clubs in this country, employees at most of these clubs have been severely impacted by the nationwide lockdown," explained GolfRSA CEO Grant Hepburn.
"Those worst affected are the caddies and casual workers. Sadly, most of these individuals were living close to the breadline even before the lockdown and are now battling to provide for their families.
"We acknowledge and applaud the numerous golf clubs, their members and general managers and PGA professionals, as well as organisations within the golf industry that have already implemented much-needed schemes and initiatives aimed at assisting employees and casual workers. In total, more than R5-million has been raised to date by golf facilities to support their casual workers and caddies. However, with so many golf clubs struggling for survival, we decided to initiate this compensation fund that will assist those individuals who did not receive any help from their respective clubs.
"We have been able to retain a savings pool from operational cuts due to national events being cancelled and the voluntary pay reduction that the GolfRSA staff and service providers have taken. We will redirect these funds toward the GolfRSA Covid-19 Relief Fund with the full endorsement of the office bearers of the South African Golf Association, Womens Golf South Africa and the GolfRSA Board of Directors.
"We would like to recognise the underlying contribution made by our affiliated golfers, who are largely responsible for the funding of GolfRSA through their affiliation fees. Under normal circumstances, affiliation fees are allocated to operational costs, such as staging national tournaments, administration and governance of handicapping and rules, as well as the development of the game. We are proud to be able to direct the money towards this worthy cause."
Hepburn stated that the fund will be administered in several phases, with the first phase expected to roll out in the next few days.
"The staff at GolfRSA are liaising with provincial golf unions and golf clubs to identify those workers who qualify for relief payments and they will also execute the challenging logistics of this roll-out, starting this week," he said.
The second phase of the programme will call for donations from golfers and businesses that are able to contribute to the fund to sustain the initiative over the next few months.
"It is difficult to determine the extent of this campaign, due to uncertainty of the number of individuals and families that will need support. We therefore hope to extend the lifespan of the fund with support from golfers and corporate South Africa."
GolfRSA chairperson of the Board Johann Rupert commended the golf industry for the various initiatives launched during this challenging period for all South Africans.
"Since the nationwide lockdown was initiated on 26 March, the golf industry has come together in remarkable ways to sustain and preserve our golf courses and ensure the welfare of the golfers and the industry employees, including club and greens staff, caddies and casual workers," Rupert said.
"GolfRSA has been working with various stakeholders, including the PGA of South Africa, the Club Management Association of South Africa and the Sunshine Tour to address the many challenges that have arisen from this crisis.
"I applaud GolfRSA on their attempt to ensure that no-one falls through the cracks. The GolfRSA Covid-19 Fund will provide support for caddies and casual workers from golf facilities across South Africa and these organisations have voiced their support to this initiative.
"I also commend the many golf facilities around the country who have established food parcel initiatives or financial support for their employees and the various golf unions who are also playing their part."
Hepburn said that details of the application process for caddies and casual workers will be communicated to the golf unions and clubs within the next few days.
"Once we have phase one up and running, we will advise further details on phase two, which is aimed at creating a platform to raise further funds through donations."