Only a few student golfers in the world will ever have the privilege to play a tournament at St Andrews Links in Scotland, and Maties Golf's Phillip Swanepoel is one of them.
Phillip, an Industrial Psychology student in his final year at Stellenbosch University (SU), was invited to compete in the R&A Scholars Invitational 2019 Strokeplay competition in April.
Formed in 2004 and based in St Andrews, The R&A engages in and supports activities undertaken for the benefit of golf. It also organises The Open, golf's oldest and most international Major championship.
“Each year the R&A awards 300 scholarships to university students all around the world who are pursuing a career in golf as well as studying full-time," explains Phillip.
“The top 60 players are then invited to play in the R&A Scholars Tournament. I was fortunate enough to be one of those 60 players.
“It feels surreal, to be honest. You hear so much about the "home of golf" that it takes a while to take it all in. What really stood out for me was the type of golf you have to play. Links golf is different to the golf we play in South Africa. The courses are hard, and wind and rain are part of the game. It's great because you get to be more creative with your game and the decisions you make regarding each shot you play."
After two rounds on the Eden Course on day one (scoring 75 and 68) and one round on the Old Course on day two (scoring 71), Phillip concluded the tournament tied for 6th place. The temperature on both days was under 10°C.
“I'm satisfied with my performance. South Africa doesn't have traditional links golf courses, and it wasn't easy preparing for the tournament. I couldn't be happier with my result."
The players were also invited to a reception in the famous Royal & Ancient Golf Club behind the 1st tee box on the Old Course at St Andrews.
“We explored the clubhouse with the members and learnt a lot about the history of the game and the history of golf course maintenance."
Phillip has been a member of Maties Golf for the past four years and won the club championships in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He also won the USSA championships in his first year. He represents Maties with pride and appreciates being part of the Maties Sport family.
“Golf has also given me the opportunity to meet a lot of people – networking is a great benefit of the game and being able to travel is always a perk," he adds.
However, being a student-athlete is not easy. In order to pursue a career in golf, Phillip is completing his final year over two years.
“If it wasn't for the support I get from Stellenbosch University and my lecturers, it wouldn't have been possible for me (to pursue a career in golf)."