Randpark BlogLatest news from the Randpark Golf Club
One of our Randpark Stalwarts – Carol Evans
THIS being Women’s Month, we have up until now celebrated three young female Randpark golfers who are making great strides in the game at national level – SA strokeplay and matchplay champion Kajal Mistry, SA’s number three ranked Zethu Myeki and junior hot-shot Cara Ford.
This week we turn our attention to a considerably older member, 83-year-old Carol Evans, to honour her for the many years of service on various committees she has rendered not only to the club but to Ladies Golf Gauteng.
England-born Carol started to play golf in her thirties in Lancashire where she was a schoolteacher, before she and her family moved to South Africa. “I joined Randpark in 1974, feeling very much alone because I didn’t know anyone.”
But she soon got into the swing of things, not only playing as often as she could in between full-time jobs, but making life-long friendships. Joan Liebenberg, a Lady Captain back in the day, recognised that Carol was committee potential and took her under her wing.
And so began what amounted to around 15 years off and on of serving on the Randpark ladies’ committee. “Unlike today, when so much is digital, we did everything manually and I used to check the cards and work out the handicaps. I loved doing it, seeing who was doing what, but of course you would get the odd ‘How can you do that?’ good-natured jibe when a handicap got cut by a couple of shots!”
One of Carol’s initiatives was to start a Sunday Business League for lady golfers who – like herself – worked during the week but wanted to play league golf. It took off and became very popular and remains so to this day. She also helped run the equally popular monthly Mixed Open and Ladies Open competitions while the Randpark ladies’ committee has always been active in organising golf days to benefit needy charities.
Carol was also co-opted onto the Ladies Golf Gauteng committee on which she served for the best part of a decade. “One of my tasks was to take the girls to tournaments, like the Nomad SA Junior Championships held each year at Orkney in mid-winter and I remember being out on the course in the freezing cold when I was on duty. Those were the days when players like Ashleigh Simon and Stacy Bregman were beginning to win tournaments and make a name for themselves. We weren’t allowed to give the players advice during a round but I did carry sweets around with me to give to the girls and it was like every time I handed Ashleigh a nice Quality Street chocolate she’d make a birdie! To see her and Stacy now doing well on the major tours makes me chuffed because I feel I did play a little part in getting them to where they are today.”
When Carol first arrived at the club, and indeed for a good number of years after that, women weren’t allowed in the bar. “This was strange for me coming from England where going to a pub was very much part of the life of a community. Anyway, we ladies were allowed to use a little room at Randpark where we could gather after a round for a drink or two. A student was assigned to be our waiter and we actually had a lot of laughs in that little room. Sometimes we had to ask the waiter to leave because the jokes got a bit too colourful! Later on, when the club did permit us to go into the bar, there was still a lot of opposition from some of the men. I remember once when four of us ladies were sitting in the bar watching golf on TV. We had come off the course early and were the only ones in the bar. Then some men came in and, without asking, just switched the channel to rugby.” Carol and her friends were up for a fight, though, and told the men to switch it back to golf and informed them if they wanted to watch rugby to damn well find another TV.
Another issue was Saturday mornings, where ladies had trouble getting starting times and had to fight for their rights, Carol one of the main instigators of this. She remembers that at one stage annual subs were just R35 and the green fee for 18 holes R2.50. “That was for the ladies, the men paid R4 and this was an argument they used to not wanting us to play on Saturday mornings and I remember saying, ‘we’ll also pay R4 then you can’t stop us, and that kept them quiet!’”
Looking back on her years of service, Carol says they gave her much satisfaction and she feels it was a privilege to give back to a game that has been such a special part of her life, in which she has made life-long friends and been part of a wonderful club like Randpark which in many ways is like one big family. “So much has changed and it’s so much more casual at the club these days. You have to move with the times. Now even children are welcome at Randpark and that certainly didn’t used to be the case.”
As a player, Carol’s best handicap was a 13 and she has had one hole-in-one, on the old par-3 second on Randpark which is now Firethorn. “That was one good shot!” she recalls.
Not too long ago she won R11 000 in the popular Friday evening draw – a draw that she helped start many years ago – which you could say is part reward for all that she’s done for golf at the club and in Gauteng. She has now retired from committee work and, after a medical procedure, is not playing at the moment. “I so do miss being out there and hopefully I can get back on the course some time soon,” she says.
Carol, we can only second that. And thanks so much for all you’ve done for Randpark.
Carol’s husband Cyril’s ashes are buried in the club’s memorial hidden away to the right of Firethorn’s 17th hole tee-box.
By Grant Winter