Madibaz - Lumkile Mantshiyo

It all started 15 years ago when a wide-eyed youngster was ogling golf accessories at Arabella in the Western Cape during a family holiday.

“I visited the pro shop and just loved all the golf stuff – the attire, gloves, belts, caps and so on,” Lumkile Mantshiyo, now an accounting student at Mandela University, said.

“My dad bought me a few things and I remember we went out and played nine holes.”

These days he is leaving an indelible mark on courses all over the Eastern Cape.

One of these is the Belmont Golf Club near Makhanda, where he drove, chipped and putted his way to the silver medal at the University Sports South Africa tournament in December.

He ended regular play on level terms with teammates Tiaan Tibshraeny and JP van der Watt. The Madibaz players returned to the 18th for a sudden-death playoff, where Van der Watt’s birdie four trumped his par.

It was the second-year student’s first USSA tournament and despite losing out at the bitter end, he found it “really enjoyable”.

“I felt my performance was good, although I started a bit slowly with a 75,” Mantshiyo said.

Madibaz - Lumkile Mantshiyo

Madibaz golfer Lumkile Mantshiyo, who finished runner-up in the individual event, was one of the stars at the University Sports SA tournament in Makhanda in December. Photo: Supplied

As he developed a feel for the course his game improved and his 68 on day two was enough to get himself into the three-way playoff for the top prize.

The round could have been even better had he not duffed a chip on the par-4 17th, which led to him carding a double bogey.

“But, otherwise, I was happy and it was great fun to be in a playoff with two other Madibaz guys.”

A handicap index of +2.4 suggests that he has come a long way since those first nine holes with his dad. His lowest round is 66 and he has achieved it at both Humewood and PE Golf Club.

His iron play is undoubtably his strong suit.

“That is my strength,” Mantshiyo, who is also comfortable on and around the greens, said. “I feel I can get out of trouble by using these shots.”

The Mandela University student was thankful to be blessed with natural talent as well as being able to attend “good schools”. He has also played in Ernie Els Foundation tournaments.

The rest, he said, was due to his coach Graeme Whale.

The Madibaz Golf Club’s inaugural golf day was sponsored by Standard Bank last year.

“Without support like that none of the things we are able to achieve as Madibaz golfers would be possible.”

The university’s golf manager, Theresa le Roux, said they were proud of their students’ performance at the USSAs.

And, although Van der Watt would be lost to the varsity following the completion of his studies, she was quietly confident of producing similar results this year.

She was particularly excited by new recruits Jean Upman and Zane Griesel, who will join the club as first-year students.