No power at home so I couldn’t send emails. Frustration. But I needed to enter my latest 18-hole score for handicap purposes. I phoned the club. “Hi, Gugu here,” said the very cheerful lady on the other end of the line, “what can I do for you?” I told her my problem. “Don’t you worry, I’ll sort it out,” she replied. A moment’s pause and then she added, “Actually, I see you have two open rounds.” Another moment’s pause and then she said: “All done. I’ve already fixed everything.” I had been speaking to Head Concierge Gugu Sikhosana and she couldn’t have been more friendly, more efficient and more gracious. It was such good service. All in less than a minute. Yes, a small gesture in a big organisation like Randpark, but a gesture that summed up the “Mutual Respect” ethos that CEO Francois Swart and his team are implementing at the club.
“It all comes down to the club being a place of enjoyment,” says Francois. “With so much happening with Covid and the chaos that’s been happening around us, it’s natural to feel stressed, threatened, frustrated and angry whether it be because of crime, the economy or challenges at work or whatever. The pressure builds up and you need a release. So that’s why we are striving to make Randpark your favourite place – your home from home. When you drive through the club gates, you can leave your anger and stress behind and enter a world that goes well beyond golf. Randpark is indeed a place for golfers, but also a place for families and friends to gather in a warm and friendly environment that strives to offer personal attention and added extras to create what is hopefully an unforgettable experience. We want to create an atmosphere and facility you can be proud of – where you can meet for golf, or just re-unite and re-connect with friends over breakfast, lunch or dinner, have some fun and leave your troubles and frustrations behind. And if there’s all-round mutual respect so much the better as we’re all in this together.”
Francois feels strongly that members need to respect the club’s staff. “Times have been tough for them, work-wise. One week the club is closed, then it’s open, then it’s closed again. It’s been difficult for them to adapt and they’re trying their very best. The last thing we want, when staff are trying to observe protocols, is for people to bite off their heads with some uncalled for, nasty comment. How much better things can be if you show mutual respect.”
Men’s Club Captain, Derek McGowan has no trouble in buying into all this. “If you are feeling stressed don’t take it out on your wife (or husband) and kids. Rather come to the club and let off some steam here on the golf course. Have a drink afterwards and enjoy the camaraderie. It’s a place to release your tension. And remember, just like you’ve chosen your family, so you’ve chosen this club. You can’t be treating your family or the club or its members or staff as your punch bag, no matter what your frustrations are. Again, it all comes down to mutual respect. Yes, in golf and at the club and indeed in life there are rules and regulations but one rule pretty much covers all of these and that is to treat others like you want to be treated yourself.”
One player who can identify with our CEO’s desire for people to leave their stress behind when driving through the club’s gates is 27-year-old Zethu Myeki, who played for South Africa as an amateur before turning professional at the beginning of 2020. “I think our club is doing a great job with all its facilities and also for observing all the protocols necessary in this time of the ‘new normal’, so you can feel safe,” she says. “Yes, we may get frustrated out there in the world but we’re so blessed here at Randpark to come through the gates and, as Francois says, feel at home among our fellow members. And as far as facilities go, by the way, the Inrange facility is absolutely fantastic if you want, like me, to work hard on your game and know exactly where you stand, whether it be how far you’re hitting the ball, or whatever. It literally does everything you need to improve your game.” And Zethu’s hours of Inrange practice is clearly paying dividends in tournament play as she takes part each month in the Standard Bank Pro-Am Series for the lady professionals and won the June edition of the competition with a sizzling 67 at Parkview. This coming week she’s at Glendower.
Jock Wellington, a relatively new member of Randpark, has for the last 20 years been a dominant player in South African Senior Amateur Golf. He is a multiple winner of the SA Senior Amateur and long-standing member of the over-50s national side, has been No 1 in the rankings for a good chunk of the last two decades and has been a stalwart for Central Gauteng in the annual Senior Amateur Interprovincial.
“Mutual respect? Of course, it’s needed,” says Jock who still plays scratch golf at 70. “Especially in these difficult times, we need to be far more tolerant. Here at Randpark some of the people have been months without a proper income. So, there’s definitely no need to jump down someone’s throat if there’s no ice in your drink. As golfers, we should just be extremely grateful that we are allowed to tee it up and play this wonderful game on two fine courses at such a great club. Yes, there are issues out there with lockdown and the frustration it has brought, but let’s not translate that into aggro at the club.”
And yes, there have been stress-induced aggro and unfortunate and unnecessary altercations. There is no need for this in golf. Yes, times have been hard during the pandemic, but all the more reason to show gratitude that we can at least enjoy our passion for the game away from what’s happening out there in the world.
Long-time member Otto Knabl feels that one very important way of showing mutual respect is to get vaccinated. Otto, an Austrian, but a permanent resident in South Africa, is a regular visitor to his country of birth and was there in May and June. “In Austria and Europe generally, they won’t let you on the golf course if you haven’t been vaccinated. I know that for practical reasons this can’t happen here just yet but ideally, it should also be the case. In that way, we can all be safe and isn’t that what we all want? You know, in Europe, of every 100 people that die of Covid, 99 haven’t been vaccinated. So Randpark golfers, get vaccinated if you can so you and anyone else you come into contact with can be safe. That’s how you can show mutual respect to other golfers.”
Another member, Richard Way, agrees: “I’ve been playing golf regularly at the club week on week and thoroughly enjoying it here at Randpark, but since June last year I haven’t been either into the halfway house or into any other part of the club. Okay, it could be argued that this isn’t good for the club finances as I haven’t been buying drinks! But I just think it’s the responsible thing to do in order to ensure social distancing and avoid being with a crowd of people as we all know this is how the pandemic spreads. So, as Otto says, get vaccinated and be responsible.”
Lady members, Jacqui Jones and Janene Matsukis are fairly new to golf, describing themselves as “learners” (although they’re far from hackers and already hold down handicaps in the low 20s). They have a different take on mutual respect: “What does happen some of the time is that because we’re still learning, we might find a fourball behind us getting irritated because we’re holding them up,” says Janine. “Here again is where mutual respect can play a part. They perhaps need to be more patient and for our part, we must be ready to let them through and we make sure to do this,” adds the former Zimbabwe squash and basketball international. Says Jackie: “Janine and I both own technology companies and out there in business we’re in opposition to each other. But we’re such good friends and we team up well on the golf course. Yes, times have been difficult. But let’s be thankful we can actually play this game and feel safe and at home here at Randpark when so many other people are struggling. Be patient with others and there’s no need for irritation.”
With a good deal of mutual respect here at Randpark we can make a great club even better. Thanks Francois, thanks Derek, thanks Gugu, thanks everyone!
Written by Randpark Member, Grant Winter