10 Oct

Nomads is a South African success story – an international network of golf-lovers who come together to promote the game and do good in their communities

Story Hayley Dennyson

Established by Mike Florance in the Transvaal (now Gauteng) in 1960, Nomads is a club without a clubhouse, a way for like-minded individuals to enjoy each other’s company during a monthly round of golf, while working to effect change both in and beyond the sport. Natal Nomads was formed in 1963 and, today, there are 26 clubs worldwide, from Botswana to New Zealand.

“Many of our members are successful businessmen, but Nomads isn’t just about networking or status,” says Janus Horn, Natal Nomads Captain 2016-2017. “There’s an old-school camaraderie and traditions within Nomads. You don’t just sign up – you have to prove your commitment before you are invited to join.”

The fact that Nomads cannot be a golfer’s primary membership is key to the club’s drive to support local golf clubs. Nomads meet at a different club each month, bringing revenue and exposure to that facility. With 160 members across KZN alone, that’s a worthy contribution. Nomads also have an agreement with the PGA, whereby Nomads members volunteer at major events, with the funds saved being used for development. Makhetha Mazibuko, who tied second in the Eye of Africa 2017, is a product of those programmes.

Each club is run as an NPO and has its own committee, elected annually, with carefully-managed finances and dynamic members making things happen. Charitable recipients are selected by the Vice Captain each year, with club members working to fund and install or build a working resource for the charity. No money changes hands.

In line with this, the Andrew Mentis Nomads Foundation (named after a Gauteng Nomads founder member) was created to channel the funds generated for distribution to worthwhile causes on a project-by-project basis. Each member club forms an Andrew Mentis sub-committee, which is chaired by the Vice Captain of the club and is specifically tasked to co-ordinate activities aimed at raising funds for the foundation. To date, Nomads has donated goods and services in excess of R40-million to causes around the world.

One such project was Inhlangano Senior Primary School in Embo, Valley of 1 000 Hills, where Natal Nomads identified an urgent need for classroom resources. The school had three blocks of classrooms, one of which had been condemned because of the level of deterioration. The missing roof, falling ceilings and broken windows in two classrooms – where children were still taking lessons – made the acquisition of knowledge a risky adventure for the young learners.

“For many years, our school complained to the Department of Education about the poor condition of our facilities and requested the necessary repairs on them, but we have received no response,” said Principal Sibusiso Dumakude. “Our decaying school buildings were insufficient, forcing the teachers to cram pupils into available classrooms, negatively affecting not only the enrolment of new students, but also the education of existing students in an overcrowded classroom.”

Natal Nomads raised R115 000 to fund the refurbishment of one classroom, as well as the installation of new roofing and a ceiling in another classroom, with work completed by Nomads member Arnold Neveling of C&L Construction.

One of the main fundraising events of the year is the Andrew Mentis Golf Day, which embodies what it means to be a Nomad, with members working together to put on a spectacular day for their club, as well as invited members of the public. This gives these guests, including women and juniors, an opportunity to experience the Nomadic camaraderie and purpose at its finest.

The Andrew Mentis Golf Day takes place on October 6, 2017 at the Royal Durban Golf Club. For details, call Greg on 083 647 5715.

“We are so proud of what we’ve achieved,” Arnold Neveling concludes. “Good brings good. It motivates and enables people. We use our connections to unlock development.”


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