Fresh off his exhilarating outing at The Amateur Championship, Ronan Kleu took a moment to remember his roots: right here, at Simbithi Country Club. The golfer chatted to us from his home in Küsnacht, Switzerland about his memories, his passion for the good game and his favourite hole on the course!

Whenever Ronan plays a tournament, he reflects on how his journey started at Simbithi. The Umhlali Preparatory School alum’s family moved to the Estate in 2008, four years after development began. “Before, or after school, I would head to the Club. Often with my Dad, often alone, to either chip and putt or to play eighteen. On weekends, sometimes, Dad and I would play thirty-six.” Ronan remembers. “It was a perfect course to get started as a youngster as it was not incredibly long yet required accuracy with the approach shots.”

Golf was a favourite among the Kleu men: Ronan’s father and grandfather enjoyed the course. “I went along, sometimes. I was two years old when I picked up my first plastic club and hit a ball around the garden.” The garden soon became the course, and Ronan began earnestly playing when he was eight years old. “I particularly loved the aspect of nature and the concentration required. Also, being able to play and practice independently, without needing a team, was a bonus.”

Growing up in Switzerland, Ronan’s “other home” as he calls it, he skied from a young age and enjoyed football and tennis. When he and his family relocated to South Africa, he played cricket, swam, played rugby and football representing Umhlali Preparatory. “I still enjoy sports, especially ball sports,” he says. “For a few years, I was very much a Ballito boy and enjoyed the Simbithi lifestyle very much. We chose the North Coast primarily due to my Dad’s work, and Simbithi because of its beauty and vibe.” At the time, Ronan shares, Simbthi was still in infancy. “We loved using the community centres and the course.”

It may have been many years ago, but Ronan has vivid recollection of his time on the Simbithi golf course, where his father remains a member. “It’s lovely to think back at the different clubs I hit at the time, and my first memories of pars and birdies. I specifically remember things like hitting hybrid on hole two, driver on hole nine and not being able to reach the green in two on hole 14, compared to now hitting wedges-8 iron into those greens today.”

Ronan shares that Simbithi’s course was well-suited to learning, as “approach play” is required. “And, the short game is crucial, making it fun. I always loved playing the weekly meat competitions and playing on Saturdays with my Dad: start at 6am, eat breakfast after 18 holes and then play another 18 holes! I also always enjoyed playing with my buddies from Umhlali Prep.”

When asked for his favourite hole, Ronan calls a tie between the signature 17th and the sixth. “Seventeen because of how iconic it is, but also because at the green entrance there is always wildlife…monkeys, duiker and birds. And, hole six because we lived in an apartment just above it so we could watch some golf or even hit some shots in the evening when no-one was on the course.”

When he is in South Africa, Ronan still fancies a game at Simbithi, which he calls a unique course. “As a par 60, there are plenty of par 3s which makes it enjoyable to play, as pace of play is good. As I have said, approach play and short games on this course is key as missing in the wrong spots can be very penal! I always enjoy coming back to play.”

Ronan, on-course to becoming a professional golfer, shares a few tips for younger golfers. He recommends focusing on getting the ball in play, and then on your short game, especially putting. “I commonly see players hit good drives and iron shots just to make bogeys by having far too many putts,” he says. “Additionally, never underestimate the value of just playing golf. By putting yourself in unpredictable, new situations each time, your body learns to adapt quicker than in a flat, repetitive environment such as driving range and flat putting green.”

Other than that…have fun! “Trust the process, and most importantly, have fun. Golf is very unpredictable and there will be many ups and downs. Changes won’t happen instantaneously but if you keep at it, you will be rewarded in the long run. Fun should always be a priority since it leads to an environment that is far more conducive to learning.”

Well, Ronan, we look forward to having you out on the greens the next time you’re in our ‘hood.