Zethu Myeki is quietly carving out the beginnings of what will potentially be a very successful career as a professional golfer, if her dedicated and disciplined adherence to her upward trajectory is anything to go by – and she credits the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation (EE&FF) for playing a large and significant part in that journey.
Zethu is one of only a few past members of Ernie Els and Dr Hasso Plattner’s golf foundation who had two bites of the membership cherry – once as a junior golfer while at school and then again later when she played open amateur golf before turning professional.
Having started the game as a 13-year-old in East London (it was love at first sight, apparently) she became a member of the Foundation in 2010, leaving in 2011 when she finished Matric and was no longer eligible to play junior golf.
At the time, the Foundation focused on junior golfers who were in high school, however, this changed in 2015, when it was decided to support golfers who were playing open amateur golf and to prepare them for a successful professional career.
The three pillars of the Foundation – golf, education and life skills – remained unchanged, however. Members have to have completed Matric at a “traditional” high school (home or online schooling doesn’t qualify) and then, while in the Foundation, they must enroll in and complete their choice of tertiary education.
When Zethu rejoined the Foundation in 2015
she enrolled in the Club Management Diploma course offered by the Club Managers Association of South Africa – a course she completed and became a qualified club manager; a skill she has not yet had to put into practice as she chases her dreams of success on the world professional women’s Tours.
Her golf also quickly improved – she was 42nd on the Womens Golf SA ranking at the start of 2015 when she rejoined the Foundation, finishing the year at No 3:
“The Foundation played a huge role in the improvement in my golf because they covered the cost of travel to tournaments – there is no way I could have afforded to do that.
There is no substitute for playing and competing in the best tournaments,” Zethu explains, “And I had no money for further study, so being a member of the Foundation, I was able to continue my studies as well, which gives me something to fall back on should I need it in the future.”
When Zethu rejoined the Foundation in 2015
By the time her time in the EE&FF came to an end in late 2019, Zethu was ranked in the top-two of women’s amateur golf in South Africa and decided it was time to give being a professional a full go: “I thought it would be quite easy to get sponsors, but that definitely was not the case!
To get to my first tournament, I had to ask for help from friends and family. It was tough! I had to make the cut in a tournament just to get to play in the next one…”
Looking back at her time at the Foundation, Zethu says that one of her biggest learnings was improving her discipline and learning to work hard. She desperately did not want to let herself or her supporters down in everything that she was taking on – both her golf and her studies. She was also exposed to coaching in the mental side of the game for the first time, something she says makes up 90% of the game for her now. Two years into her professional career, Zethu landed a sponsorship deal with Investec which, for many years, has been a massive supporter of the women’s professional game.
This has allowed her to play professional events in South Africa relatively free from stress – and it is beginning to show in her career results.
She has won a Vodacom Origins Sunshine Ladies Tour event, made a large cheque in the Dimension Data Pro-Am in 2023 (finishing 11th in a star-studded field) and recently lost in a playoff at Houghton in a Standard Bank Series event. Zethu now has her sights firmly set on the Ladies European Tour Q-school in December in Spain for a chance to qualify to play in Europe and to really spread her wings. While she hasn’t completely worked out how travelling around Europe and the world will all happen, she is taking it one step at a time and is focusing on the two-stage qualifying hurdle in front of her for now. She also has three more events on the Standard Bank Series to prepare for and to do well in.
As she approaches her 30th birthday later in 2023, there is no doubt that Zethu is giving herself every chance of success, keeping her feet firmly on the ground and working hard for her opportunities to succeed. Keep an eye out for her name on leaderboards around the world!