Theo Manyama, one of the most decorated rules officials in world golf, added another honour to his resume with the Minister’s Excellence Award in this year’s annual South African Sports Excellence Awards.
It is the 10th anniversary of the awards, and the Sunshine Tour’s venerable tournament director and rules guru was rewarded by the Minister of Sport and Recreation, the Honourable Fikile Mbalula in the same year as he achieved a personal ‘grand slam’ when he officiated in the US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
That completed a collection of appointments to the rules staff at all of golf’s major championships, as he has also worked at the US Open, and for extended periods at the Masters in Augusta, Georgia, and at The Open Championship.
Manyama paid personal tribute to Johann Rupert after receiving the award, recounting how the chairman of the Sunshine Tour board had helped him ease his way into officiating around the world.
“He helped me when I was starting out, when i went to tournaments in Europe, in Australia and in the United States,” said Manyama. “I am so grateful for all he has helped me achieve, and I certainly could not have done it without that help. I value all he has done.
“It is great to be honoured by my country. I have given a lot of my time and energy, my life, to golf, and it is a great feeling to receive this award from my country to go with all the other honours I have received.
“The Sunshine Tour has given me the opportunity to use my skills and give back to the game which has given me so much,” he added.
Manyama was one of the first ‘Master Professionals’ in the South African Professional Golfers Association, and he has been given an award by Compleat Golfer magazine for ‘Lifetime contribution to the golf industry’.
His own career as a professional golfer was hindered by apartheid, and he was prevented from competing in South African tournaments during his prime. Nevertheless, in 1970, he declined on principle an invitation which was extended to him and three other players to play in South African tournaments.
As his playing days wound down, he qualified as a rules official through the Royal & Ancient, one of the custodians of the rules of golf together with the United States Golf Association.
He has been a fixture as chief rules official at South Africa’s prestigious Nedbank Golf Challenge, and his abilities were recognised on an international stage when he was named joint tournament director in the 2003 Presidents Cup played at Fancourt in George.