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Ken Borland

From bankruptcy to a thriving concern, this is the scope of Ernie’s off-course commitments 0

Posted on July 24, 2019 by Ken


The revitalisation of a bankrupt clothing factory in Durban would not seem to have any obvious links to South African golfing legend Ernie Els, but such is the scope of the four-time Major champion’s commitments these days that he can take part of the credit for the Royal Green Clothing Company now being a thriving concern.

While the South African clothing industry has been ravaged by cheap overseas imports, Royal Green now makes 2000 garments a day for the Ernie Els Collection, which is run by Global Golf and for which Els himself launched a new distribution deal this week with Barron, who describe themselves as “the largest and most trusted corporate and promotional brand in Africa”.

The involvement of Els in his range of golf attire extends to him having a say in the designs, with The Big Easy saying he wanted the shirts to be “as comfortable when you’re swinging a golf club as when you’re drinking a beer”.

The 49-year-old is also involved in the wine industry and course design business, and is also the current President’s Cup captain, preparing for their biennial contest with the United States in Melbourne in a year’s time. He also devotes plenty of his time to the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation to assist young golfers and his Els for Autism charity he started in the wake of his son, Ben, being diagnosed with the condition. And the father of two is also still playing regular top-level golf and finished inside the top-15 in the prestigious South African Open last December at Randpark Golf Club.

So how does Els juggle all these commitments?

“It’s fun and I still love the game we play, it has never felt like a job to me, whether I’m six-putting a green or being a champion seventy times around the world. I’ve forged some nice partnerships and friendships through golf and these other commitments are just an extension of my golf. I’ve forged friendships around the world but I always wanted to do something with South Africans.

“This clothing factory, Royal Green, is the perfect way to do that and I first met Langley Perrins of Global Golf when we spent my 21st birthday together in a foreign city when we were both young golfers trying to make it. I met my wife, Liezl, at a wine farm and for nearly 20 years we’ve been making wine out of Stellenbosch. Autism touched my family and Liezl has been the driving force of that work, she’s made it very prominent,” Els said.

The fact that The Big Easy is able to combine such a laidback demeanour with an undiluted passion for the game is probably what makes him so popular with the public, even after all these years. Even though there are players in the top-50 of the world rankings like Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Wallace and Branden Grace in the field, Els has still boasted some of the biggest galleries following him around Randpark.

Apart from holding events for the Ernie Els Collection and Els for Autism, the former world number one, now 591st in the rankings, also hosted the prizegiving for the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation which funds the education and golf instruction of youths from underprivileged backgrounds.

“The foundation started 20 years ago and we’re trying to support the education of these boys and girls and their endeavours in golf. It has evolved quite a bit since then and I feel very proud when I see professionals who have come through the foundation. I was privileged enough, because of the great backing from my Dad, Neels, and my mother, Hettie, to be able to elevate my game to higher levels, but I knew some of my mates at the time couldn’t do that.

“So the foundation looks to make that process easier, to give these youngsters a better chance of becoming what they want to be. It all starts with junior golf, there is no other way, no shortcut to the top. You need hard work, a love for the sport and you need to get a few breaks. And you have to show character to come back from disaster,” Els said at the prizegiving.

The five-time SA Open champion, while delighted to still be mixing it with the youngsters out on the course, is also using this week’s tournament as a reconnaissance mission. As part of his duties as President’s Cup captain, he has to keep an eye on all the contenders for the International team, players like Charl Schwartzel, Justin Harding, Grace and Brandon Stone.

“It’s important for me to play with the youngsters as President’s Cup captain, I need to be relevant. I’m really looking forward to next December in Melbourne and I want to get it right. I think I know what the players need because I’m playing quite a bit just to see them in action. I won a couple of times in Melbourne as well, so I can give them some local knowledge.

“So I need to stay close to the players, to stay relevant to captain them properly. It’s fun and I’m excited about it. Even if I’m not competing day by day, I’m quietly going about playing good golf still. Shooting 60s at my age is really nice and I would obviously love to win again, but my consistency is not what it should be,” Els said.

But there is no doubt that the World Golf Hall of Fame member since 2010 remains consistently relevant to the game all around the world.

A moving farewell for a Titan of the game 0

Posted on November 09, 2015 by Ken


The Titans recently took leave of one of their most inspirational players when they held a farewell function for batsman Jacques Rudolph, who has ended his South African career in order to focus on his commitments as captain of Glamorgan.

Rudolph, a compact left-hander whose 49 first-class centuries show his ability perhaps better than his Test average of 35, gave a moving address in which he was often in tears and which showed why he was one of the most popular players on the domestic circuit.

“One can dedicate one’s life to an institution and walk away with only a handshake, so this is a great evening to end a great journey,” Rudolph said. “The agreement is that next October I will be sitting on the grass embankment with my son, who will hopefully be starting to walk, and hear Loslappie [the Titans’ team song] roaring out from the changeroom.”

The 34-year-old tried his hand at international cricket with decent success, scoring six Test centuries and 11 fifties in 48 Tests, as well as averaging 35 in 45 ODIs, but what happened at the very start of his career with the national team, when he was pulled from the team by then UCB president Percy Sonn on the eve of his debut Test, probably did not help the confidence of a 21-year-old as he was back then in Sydney.

“There’s a strong perception that my career was marred by politics, what with the interference in selection in 2001/02, but I’m thankful for that because it gave me resilience and perseverance, it enabled me to overcome any adversity. I have no regrets, it only made me stronger,” Rudolph said with typical magnanimity.

He was indeed able to handle any attack on his day, but he has also made a massive difference off the field at Centurion.

“The stats only tell half the story. He’s one of the nicest okes to work with and there are so many people he’s touched while he’s been here. Junior players come to me and say what an inspiration he’s been. Scoring 20 000 runs is one thing, but he’s also provided a much-needed lift in the changeroom,” Titans CEO Jacques Faul said.

The inspiration continued in his parting words as Rudolph gave some worthy advice to the young cricketers present.

“Arrogance comes before a fall. I remember when I was 21 and I had just scored a double-century for South Africa and I came back to the Titans. Gerald Dros had to call me aside and tell me that I needed to come down a peg or two before I had become arrogant. That was life-changing.

“You won’t succeed if you are arrogant. The All Blacks are a great example, they beat a lot of teams but they are very humble and always spend time with the opposition. Make friends and learn from them, treat people with dignity and respect, South Africa creates a certain environment, but we need to break barriers and reach out.

“You can’t start soon enough to save money because before you know it, your career can be taken away. I learnt too late sadly about financial discipline because life is expensive.

“Teams win championships and not individuals – individuals win you games. And your identity musn’t be linked to how you perform or your abilities. The best batsmen only reach fifty once in every three innings, so you fail a lot more than you succeed in this game. Don’t link your value as a person to how you perform or what people think of you,” Rudolph said.

The applause should ring out for Jacques Rudolph for all the pleasure he gave local cricket fans and the contribution he made to South African cricket.


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