Randpark’s new ever-so-friendly men’s Club Captain Thiruven Naidoo, a man who is passionate about whatever he does, was born in Lenasia in 1981 which means, age-wise, he’s 41 going on 42. And he’s packed a good deal on and off the course into those years!
His primary and high school days – he attended Lenasia Secondary, a co-ed – were spent in the area and he excelled in soccer, cricket and chess. Golf? “No golf,” he recalls. “I never played the game as a kid. In Lenasia there was a golf course but I never went to it.”
After matriculating in 1999 he enrolled for a B.Com Accounting at RAU (now University of Johannesburg) and completed the degree in 2002. A CTA (Certificate in Theory of Accountancy) followed and he then landed a job at Standard Bank to do his articles.
“It was while I was at Standard that I was first exposed to golf. The bank was involved in a charity golf day at CMR and I liked what I saw. I wanted to try and play but was too busy with work and Board Exams.” Thiruven passed his first Board Exam in 2004, the second in 2005 and qualified as a CA in 2006. He then spent one more year at the bank before taking up a post at Wits University in 2008 lecturing on their CTA programme. “That was the year I started my golfing journey but I hardly knew which end of the club to hold and in my first ever 18 holes, at Kyalami, I shot 120!”
A stint with PlayMoreGolf followed, as he started to try and come to grips with the game, before he decided to join a club and he became a Randpark member in 2012. He was still at Wits but was so passionate about teaching and “giving back” that he opted, with a few other ambitious enthusiasts, to start an independent private university. “People were sceptical and said we’d never succeed. But we did. It was a four-year process and cost us money. Finding staff wasn’t that bad but settling on premises was a lot more difficult.”
Operating in the Alberton area, they first rented a place in Meyersdal but now own a superb 2.4-hectare facility in Newmarket boasting a full campus complete with canteens and the like. Called The Institute of Accounting Sciences, between 700 and 1000 graduates enroll in their CTA programme each year. Talk about a success story!
In between all this activity, as well as Thiruven and his wife Deidre raising a family, he began to play regular Saturday golf in 2017 – “I was about a 15 handicap then – and got seriously into it. I’d played a lot of cricket at school where the ball was moving. Now it was stationery and I wanted to understand how the club works when the ball isn’t moving.” So with something of a Bryson DeChambeau (golf’s “Scientist”) mentality, he has used maths and science and all he can think of to try and understand the swing. Now good club captains don’t necessarily have to be good golfers but Thiruven has indeed become a very good golfer very quickly, hitting a seriously long ball off a 2.1-stroke index. His best round has been a 69 at Eagle Canyon, where the Naidoos live and – although not a member there – he enthusiastically uses that club’s practice facilities when he has a free moment to hone his game. At Randpark he’s shot even-par 72 both on Firethorn and, very recently, Bushwillow. ”Every golf swing is unique, and you have to figure it out. And as for the pressure, I live to try and hole that knee-knocking six-footer,” he says with a smile.
Playing in a “school” at a club brings its rewards and Thiruven has had a lot of fun, camaraderie, and healthy competition with the Trojans. “Made up of people from all walks of life and races, we limited it to 24 people and it really flourished. It’s been enthralling, really.”
League golf for him was the next step. In the Bushwillow betterball team, and being a natural leader, he became Vice-Captain under Bill Swailes in 2019 and 2020 before taking over as Captain in 2021. “We won the Central Gauteng C League in 2021, got promoted to the B League in 2022 and just managed to avoid relegation, but did well to finish third this year.” He has also been playing scratch league (no handicaps involved) for Randpark’s C team and this year enjoyed winning his first game.
Written by Randpark member Grant Winter.