Walters, who is playing this week’s Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt, as is former South African cricket star Boucher, talked about what led him to the decision to make the donation as the first initiative in the Tour’s new project ‘Sunshine Tour Cares’.
“I’m a new father, and when I was playing in the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek last November, I visited the Kruger Park,” said Walters. “I was watching some rhino and I sat there thinking I’d like to bring my boy down there to see them.
“He’s one and I probably won’t take him down there until he’s about five because of the threat of malaria. I was doing the maths and I realised that if we’re losing one rhino every day, there won’t be any left. So I felt the need to get involved.”
The Sunshine Tour Cares initiative has been started by the Tour to give all its members an opportunity to get assistance from the Tour and its media platforms in order to give both what they are doing as individuals as well as the charities or initiatives they are supporting some much-needed exposure and publicity.
Duncan Cruickshank, Marketing Director of the Sunshine Tour, said that, while the Sunshine Tour focused its charitable efforts on golf development, trying to set up new chapters of the South African Golf Development Board wherever it could, the Walters initiative marked a new turn in the Tour’s efforts.
“We’d like to use Justin’s idea as an example to the players of something that can be done,” he said. “If players have some charitable endeavour they want to promote, they can come to us and we’d love to help. Each of our members can choose their own charity and do something good in their own back yard, but allowing us to help them.
“It’s a great opportunity and we’re excited to get it going,” he added.
“I did a lot of thinking about rhinos and I came up with a few ideas,” said Walters. One of them was ‘Birdies for Rhinos’. I chatted to the Sunshine Tour about it and they loved it immediately. Then I went and chatted to Mark Boucher about his initiative, and tried to align it all together. I didn’t feel we needed to create another charity but just to get behind people who are out there doing all the hard work.
“I’m going to speak to some other golfers and try and get them behind this initiative. I think with the blessing of the Sunshine Tour, we’ll try and make as many birdies as possible. I’ve pledged R100 for every birdie I’ll make. At the four majors, we’ll try and persuade some golfers playing them to donate R500 for every birdie made.”
Boucher was thrilled about Walters’ initiative. “It can make a massive difference,” he said. “If you look at all our sports in the country, golf is the stand-out sport. It’s really succeeding at the moment. To have the golfers get together and do something good is fantastic to see. We can make a big difference working together. Hopefully the guys make a lot of birdies!”
Walters has thought about that too. “I think I made about R50,000 worth of birdies last year,” he said. “I’ll backdate all my birdies to January this year, so I’m already somewhere in the region of R7,000 personally.”