16th March 2017 | Sunshine Tour
Arnoldi tackles golf instead of rugby
Now he can play golf until the cows come home, but life before golf for NJ Arnoldi who is trying to secure his Sunshine Tour playing privileges at the Final Stage Qualifying School at Randpark Golf Club was more complicated than that.
He initially chose rugby over golf as a youngster and had plans of playing that sport professionally until a series of injuries got the better of him. At 16 he had to undergo the last of his five operations because he had broken his knees and shoulders, and that was when he decided to call it quits in rugby and looked to the fairways.
But not only does he love rugby, and lately, golf. Arnoldi is also livestock farmer. Along with his father and brother, he runs a cattle farm and says nothing is more relaxing. “It’s a great way just to break away from this game. Golf can get, especially mentally, very tough. It helps me to get my mind rested a bit. Farming is the best thing in the world,” he said with palpable excitement.
Rugby was a big part of his life, but common sense prevailed with each successive surgery. “It was tough recovering from those injuries,” he said, “and I decided to make that call to quit rugby and start something new.
“I only started taking golf seriously when I was 18. My plan after school was to play rugby. I really love the game and I still miss it to this day,” he added. His brother Wilmar continues to play and does duty for the North West University’s Varsity Cup side, the FNB NWU-Pukke, as a hooker.
“I hope for his sake he doesn’t get any injuries. So far, so good for him. He’s got a couple of concussions already but he’s going strong,” he said.
This week, however, Arnoldi’s got the small matter of the fourth and fifth rounds of Final Stage Qualifying School at Randpark ahead of him, and he has to finish inside the top 30 to get to play in more than just the Big Easy Tour events where he had three top-10 finishes last year and finished seventh on the Order of Merit.
After the first three rounds of Final Stage Qualifying School, he finds himself at eight-under-par for the week and tied at 11th, a position – if maintained – that will see him easily earn himself a card that will enable him to mix it up with the very best in professional golf both locally and internationally.