Dream day for reigning Nedbank SA Disabled Open Champion, Daniel Slabbert at Sun Cityon December 3, 2011
At the age of 14, many of Daniel Slabbert’s childhood dreams changed forever when he lost his leg in a freak accident. But he refused to let go of his dream to play the Gary Player Country Club course during the week of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
On Wednesday, Slabbert realised that dream when he teed it up in the official pro-am as the reigning Nedbank SA Disabled Open champion. “This is just unbelievable. It was always my dream as a child to play here, and I never thought it would actually be possible,” Slabbert said as he walked the fairways of one of the most storied layouts in South African golf, and in the same field as world number one Luke Donald and 11 of the world’s other leading golfers.
In May this year, Slabbert won the Nedbank SA Disabled Open for the first time in a career he thought would take him into the world of professional golf before he suffered his accident on his parents’ farm near Kathu. “I was jumping on a trampoline alongside the farm house. I landed slightly off balance, and it shot me towards this small window. My left leg went through the window, and that was it.” Every major artery and tendon above his knee was severed. Slabbert was rushed to the Kathu hospital, but they did not have enough blood for him. So they put a heavily bleeding Slabbert into an ambulance and headed for Kuruman about 60km away. On the way there, the ambulance blew a tyre, wasting precious time. They managed to get him the blood in time, and then transferred him to Kimberley where he spent, amazingly, only six days in the hospital following an amputation through his left knee.
Only three months later, Slabbert was back on the family farm and walking again with his new prosthetic. And only six years later, he is one of the brightest stars in South African disabled golf. “Before my accident, I had thoughts of becoming a professional golfer. So to win the SA Disabled Open was a dream come true for me.
But then to play this course during the Nedbank Golf Challenge as well is an unbelievable experience. It’s just such an honour to play in a field like this.” And he had good company. In his group were John Westwood and George Schwartzel, respective fathers to Lee and Charl.