Golf has always been part of Neswill Croy’s life. As a boy, both parents worked as labourers at Kuilsriver Golf Club outside Cape Town. His mother is now retired, but his father still works at the club, mowing the fairways and greens and fixing the machinery.
“I started walking around the course with my father from eight, but I only started playing at ten. They were clearing out the pro shop and found an old set of ladies clubs, which they gave to me,” Neswill recalls.
Even then, it was not until Japie Koopman, a coach from the South African Golf Development Board, which receives support from the Alfred Dunhill Links Foundation, invited Neswill to join his programme a year later that the youngster received proper instruction.
Very soon everyone could see that he had a special talent. By 13, he had earned his first selection to the Boland provincial age group team and he began to believe there might be a future for him in golf.
“If it wasn’t for the SAGDB I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I would have gone off the rails. I came from an environment where all the youngsters did drugs, so I’m very happy that they brought me in and gave me a different opportunity,” he says.
Neswill stayed with the SAGDB through his school years until he graduated at the end of 2013. By then he was one of the top juniors in Boland. With the support of the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, he has been playing on the amateur circuit around the country and has moved into the top 30 on the South African Golf Association order of merit.
His recent successes include a tie for third at the Western Province Amateur Championships and top ten finishes in the KwaZulu-Natal and Border Championships.
His longer term goal is to earn his tour card and play professional golf. But whatever happens, Neswill is adamant that his future is in the game he loves.
He recently completed a PGA diploma and says: “If I’m not playing, then I’ll definitely be coaching. I want to help the juniors, to give them a bit of knowledge about the game.”