Sunshine Tour

Sunshine Tour duo open up on golf's frustrating shutdown

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Oliver Bekker (Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images)
Oliver Bekker (Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images)

South African golfers Justin Harding and Oliver Bekker have opened up on their frustrations at not being able to play golf as the world continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The duo will take part in Sunday's Virtual Sunshine Tour online match, which is scheduled to start at 15:00.

Harding stated how crazy times have become and said that it's been frustrating to not be able to play golf.

"It's been wild, we were playing in the Qatar Masters and was about to go to Kenya and then that got cancelled and India after that and eventually it was a complete shutdown," said Harding in a Zoom press conference on Thursday.

"I think Oliver will agree with me that we just dying to play. We all sitting here bored and not being able to earn your wage, it's frustrating."

Harding is currently in the United Kingdom, where they've recently reopened their golf courses under strict guidelines.

Meanwhile, South Africa is currently in lockdown Level 4 to help combat the spread of Covid-19 with golf courses still closed around the country.

Bekker revealed his frustration at not being able to play any golf but acknowledged that this gives him the perfect time to spend with his young family.

"It's frustrating, especially since I live on a golf estate. I can run in the morning but not play golf," said Bekker.

"I've been wanting to downscale my schedule so I can help out with the family. During this lockdown, not being able to play tournament golf is not a big deal for me at the moment but to not be able to play any golf (in South Africa) is quite frustrating. I didn't think it would impact me that much but it's getting to me now."

READ | GolfRSA CEO urges all SA golfers to pay club membership fees

Last month, GolfRSA launched a R1 million relief initiative aimed at helping caddies and casual workers at golf facilities in South Africa.

Bekker sympathised with various clubs struggling to keep afloat during the lockdown.

"I do feel for the smaller clubs, the longer this lockdown goes on we'll see more clubs close down, some of them permanently... the golf industry is going to look a little bit different," said the seven-time Sunshine Tour winner.

"I think the relief fund was needed, there's quite a few people who work at a golf club, who are not permanent staff. There's a lot of guys who solely rely on income at various golf courses and I think this relief fund is amazing for that. At Stellenbosch Golf Club, there are guys, who are not permanent there but that have been working there for years - in my junior club days - and I hope it opens up, I'll get to see them again."

- Compiled by Lynn Butler

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