My golfing heroes – Vincent Tshabala

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I once shook the hand of Vincent Tshabala when he was playing in a tournament here as a senior. It was quite a moment as I had real respect for this gentleman. Vincent turned pro in the 1960s when, due to arpartheid, he was banned from playing on the tour in his native South Africa. He won six tournaments on something called the ‘non – white Tournament Players Association’ and then, with the help of Gary Player he became a member of the European Tour in 1976. He won the French Open that year, playing without a caddie pulling his clubs on a cart. This victory sent shockwaves around golf. He was then selected by South Africa to partner Gary Player in the World Cup of Golf and he refused, on political grounds.

He went on to have 10 top 10 finishes and stayed on to play the European Seniors tour. He partnered Ernie Els and then Tim Clark to win the Nelson Mandela Invitational in 2004 and 2005. He then became a dedicated teacher, in Sweden and South Africa. He was invested into the South African Hall of Fame and honoured by the city of Johannesburg for his ‘dedication to overcome racial barriers in sport’.

Before Tiger Woods there was the great Charlie Sifford and in Europe and South Africa the late great Vincent Tshabala bravely playing for the right to play with equality.

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