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The Back Nine with Graeme Watson

04 Jul 2013

South Africa's leading Mid-Amateur, Graeme Watson; credit Dale Boyce

In the first installment of our Back Nine series with South Africa’s top mid-amateur golfers, we talk to South Africa’s leading mid-amateur, Graeme Watson.

A former Sunshine Tour professional, Watson took back his amateur status in 2000 and has enjoyed particular success on the South African mid-amateur circuit. This season, Watson has already added the Ekurhuleni, Southern Cape and Highveld Mid-Amateur Opens trophies to a mantle groaning under weight of his success in the over-thirty-five age bracket over the three years. We talked to the Super Group Dealerships CEO about staying competitive in his forties, the things he still hopes to accomplish, and the things that makes him tick.

GRAEME WATSON FACT FILE

Born: Dundee, South Africa

Date of Birth: 14th February 1967

Residence: Bedfordview

Family: Bronwyn, my wife, two daughters, Georgia (11) and Emma (8), Oscar and Nelson, our miniature schnauzers and a horse called Cosmo….

Golf Club: Ebotse Links 

Handicap: +1

Q: Tell us where you got your start in golf and the highlights of your golfing career.

GW: My parents both played golf, and I got into it at about 13 years old. I won a couple of events on the Sunshine Tour’s Winter Tour in the early nineties, but I would say my golfing highlight was earning my national colours.

Q: You come across as a pretty laid-back guy, which completely belies your competitive nature. At 46, what still drives your competitive juices?

GW: Laid-back? No chance! I'm pretty intense with everything I do, but I really love the game, and the golf course is the only place I can really clear my mind. 

Q: Are you considering the senior tour?

GW: I turned professional in 1988, and stopped playing the tour in 1996. I enjoyed my time as a pro, but wouldn't exchange what I do now for the Senior Tour.

Q: Describe yourself as a golfer.

GW: Any of my mates will probably tell you that I've got a decent short game, but not much else worth mentioning. I can get pretty heated on the golf course, but at the same time get over it fairly quickly.

 Q: So what have you been doing to finance your passion?

GW: I am in the motor industry, and have been since I stopped playing the Tour in '96. I work for a listed company called Super Group, where I am responsible for the Dealership Division, which operates 32 franchised motor dealerships across about 25 brands.

Q: Who are the pros you most admire and why?

GW: I have an obvious admiration for Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, who I played with on Tour in the late eighties and early nineties, but more specifically for a guy like James Kingston. Not many people would have given James much of a second thought when he turned pro, but he's become a world class player, with some fantastic achievements. 

Q: Do you work with a coach?

GW: I work with Quentin van den Berg at Benoni Country Club, whenever I can find the time. He is solely responsible for my improved form over the past few years, and I have enormous respect for his knowledge about the golf swing.

Q: What is the one tournament you would most like to win and why?

GW: No doubt, the Open Championship, and at St Andrews if possible. But realistically, the SA Mid-Amateur, or the SA Seniors in years to come would be nice.

Q: If you could change one rule of golf, what would it be and why?

GW: I wouldn’t change any official rules, but being allowed to wear shorts – sorry, I can’t resist – and use range finders in all amateur tournaments would be a major step forward. I can't think of a plausible reason why the use of distance measuring devices is not allowed and even encouraged. 

Q: Have you competed in international mid-amateur events? If so, tell us more about the experience. Would you like to see more international competition for the SA mid-amateurs?

GW: I played in the British Mid-Amateur at Muirfield in 2007 and I finished fourth in the stroke play and got knocked out in the second round of the match play. It was an incredible experience, and would love to see more opportunities for the local guys.

Q: What are your five most favourite golf courses and what are your five dream courses to play?

GW: My five favourite courses are Muirfield, St Andrews, The links at Fancourt, The Earth Course in Dubai and Leopard Creek. My dream courses to play would be Augusta, Pebble Beach, Pinehurst No 2, Wentworth’s West Course and Cypress Point.

Q: Which three people would you most like to play a round of golf with and why?

GW: Lee Trevino, just to watch him play; Warren Buffet, because maybe some magic will rub off; my Dad, simply because we never played often enough. 

Q: Tell us about the most memorable moment of your career?

GW: It isn't actually golf related, but the birth of my daughters had a major influence. It put business, golf and life into perspective. 

I STILL WANT TO...

Walk my daughters down the aisle, if they can find someone I approve of, that is.

Watch the migration between the Serengeti and the Masai Mara

Learn to relax, and spend quality time with my family.

Play 18 holes at Ebotse without losing a ball. Even nine holes would be good!

Lose 15 kg

A FEW THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT GRAEME WATSON

My nickname is Wato, or Grumpy to a select few.

My most embarrassing golf moment was when I once slammed my club through an advertising board while live on TV, it got stuck, and my mother was watching.

I love traveling with family and friends. I read a little, and enjoy pretending I could be an architect.

I play with Titleist, every club in the bag, including a Scotty Cameron putter.

The oldest club in my bag is my seven-year-old putter; the rest is the latest technology, because I need all the help I can get.….

I don’t really have a motto I live by, but I really like a quote by WH Murray. "The moment one definitely commits, then providence moves too."

I drive a Land Rover

The best advice I ever received was to never write an email in anger.

If I didn’t play golf, I would still be a Motor Dealer.

If I could pick any movie to star in, it would be Taken and I would play Bryan Mills.

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