A long and rewarding journey

Ben Fouchee’s journey of 20 years as member of the PGA of SA at Paarl Golf Club
To be in the position where I can create golfers and to grow the wonderful game of golf is a real blessing.This week I was honoured to receive a certificate from the PGA of SA for Long Service – 20 years – as a PGA Professional Member.

I turned professional in 1988 and spent my first eight years as a touring professional playing golf for a living. In 1996 I decided to try new things and began to focus more on the coaching side of the game. I made the decision to move from Pretoria to the Western Cape and started coaching at the Wagner’s Academy in Durbanville.After three years in Durbanville, the position became available as teaching professional at Paarl Golf Club and I started here in 1999. Shortly after starting at Paarl GC, I finished my training as a PGA Professional. This means that my full 20 years as a PGA Professional I have been serving at Paarl GC / Boschenmeer.
During the 20 years I have seen many changes taking place at Paarl GC. In 1999 it was only an 18-hole golf course with the old clubhouse building. The golf estate had just started developing, as well as the Boschenmeer 9. There was no Pearl Valley, Val-die-Vie, Paarl Mall or double lane road into town from the golf course. We were provided housing on the premises where we lived for five-and-a-half years. This house was situated where the tennis courts are today.

In those early years there was no driving range facility. I had to teach at the back of the clubhouse. The tee-box (hitting area) was where the carwash is today. I had a bag of practice balls and one caddie who would pick up the balls after each lesson.

Towards the end of 2001 the developer started the civil works in the area where I was doing the coaching. During November that year, I had to move the coaching to the current location of the driving range. For the first six years the golfers were hitting from the hill in the direction of Franschhoek. The third gate of Boschenmeer and all the houses in that area did not exist. We had to work from Wendy houses on the top of the hill because no building could be done on the old reclaimed dumpsite. November 2007 the driving range was realigned to where it is today.

In 1999 the club approached me to run the pro shop for them as a manager, when the golf director’s position became vacant. For one full year I functioned in this position and received a monthly salary from Paarl GC. After the year as manager of the shop, Paarl GC gave me the contract to run the shop which we have done for the last 10 years since October 2010.Since I qualified as a PGA Professional in 2000, I attended many training seminars through the PGA and progressed through the classification levels to where I am today. I am currently classified as a Fellow PGA Professional Member which is 2 levels away from the top level as Master PGA Professional. One of my duties is to assess and evaluate PGA apprentices in the Western Cape who do their practical coaching exams during their studies.

The PGA also provides pro-am tournaments in the different regions where we play monthly pro-ams at different clubs. I was fortunate enough to be the winner of this order-of-merit in 2003 and 2005. Once a year the PGA also has a Club Pro Championship where the course for this tournament is rotated between the different regions. In 2013 I was awarded as the PGA Coach of the year. In 2014 I was chosen for a PGA team to represent South Africa in the European PGA Team Championships. I captained this team where we played in Antalya, Turkey. This year I was nominated in the Western Cape in 3 categories: Professional of the year, Coach of the year and Grow Golf Coach of the year. The regional voting and final round is currently taking place.The 20 years as a PGA Professional was not without challenges. As a coach one spends many long hours a day in the sun, wind, heat, cold & wet conditions. Being a coach also provides a lot of satisfaction where you see young children starting out and becoming top golfers. It is a privilege to see them progress from having to show them how to hold a golf club to becoming scratch golfers playing for their province and their country. Quite a few of them even reached the professional circuit such as Jacques Blaauw, Oliver Bekker, Ockie Strydom, Adrian Ford and Dawie van der Walt.

What also makes being a coach worthwhile and gives me a lot of job satisfaction, is to help people in their later years start with golf and improve to a level where they can still enjoy the game for many years. To be in the position where I can create golfers and to grow the wonderful game of golf is a real blessing.
I want to use this opportunity to thank all the members of Paarl GC and all other students and clients who has been part of this journey and for your loyal support. Without you it would not have been possible.If you would like to read more about my background/history and see more offerings of my services please look at our website for more information.

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