The Ernie Els Centre for Autism South Africa Newsletter – January 2017

26 Jan

Latest news from The Ernie Els Centre for Autism in SA, providing lower resourced families of children on the autism spectrum with free access to effective education for their child via e-learning programs.

1. Hats and Heels event adds glamour and goodwill to the 2017 SA Open
January in South Africa makes you think of many wonderful things: the summer heat, the sweet fruit, the smell of veld fires and, naturally, the BMW SA Open hosted by City of Ekurhuleni. This year, The Ernie Els Centre for Autism had the honour of hosting Liezl Els’ annual ladies’ brunch – or Hats and Heels, as it was called – held in conjunction with the tournament at Glendower Country Club.

The team at Glendower went above and beyond to prepare a spectacular space for the event, complete with the most exquisite snacks and treats on offer. The ladies also pulled out all the stops, with high heels that went on for days and hats that seemed to defy gravity! The gorgeous group of women included The First Lady of Ekuruleni, Mrs. Sinazo Masina, and Miss SA 2010, Bokang Montjane, and the wives of many of the golfers competing in the tournament.

Now, while we’d all admit that a little bit of fabulous is occasionally necessary on a work day, maybe the best thing about this event was that it showcased the incredible donation of R100,000 made by BMW South Africa, which will be used to continue providing services to the most vulnerable of families through The Ernie Els Centre for Autism.

“It’s not often that one gets to experience a room full of beautiful women who are just as beautiful on the inside, with hearts full of love and compassion,” commented Shani Lits, Program Director at The Ernie Els Centre for Autism. “All funds raised on the day, through the raffles and auctions, will allow us to support more families who live with a child on the Autism Spectrum and who do not have the resources required to assist their children reach their full potential.

“Thank you to everyone who supported us at this incredible event. A special thank you to the staff at Glendower Country Club, G.H. Mumm Champagne, BMW and Sail, who assisted in making this event the huge success that it was.”

2. #GameON curriculum launches new 12-week program in South Africa
The Els for Autism Foundation is very excited to say that it is GAME ON in 2017, with a new curriculum launched for our #GameON clinics in South Africa. The new 12-week program has been carefully drafted by Jen Hong, Els for Autism Sports Coordinator and former professional golfer, in collaboration with the rest of the team at The Els Center of Excellence in Florida, US.

The program is aimed at developing social/communication skills, encouraging social interaction and promoting healthy living through golf. There are 12 specifically designed lesson plans in the curriculum, along with an athletic assessment and warm up/fitness routine. Throughout the course of the program, participants are encouraged to exercise and work on new golf skills, while practising specific autism-learning concepts that are infused into every #GameON Autism Golf session. Data and feedback are also collected to help monitor both golf and autism specific skills that are enhanced from the program.

Kerri Morse, Adult Services Coordinator for The Els for Autism Foundation, recently visited South Africa to lead the training course on 17 January, hosted at the River Club in Cape Town, and attended by several golf coaches affiliated by the PGA of South Africa. Children from Alpha School joined for the first session of the program and, without a doubt, the kids were learning and enjoying every moment.

The Els for Autism Foundation’s mission is to be committed to help people on the autism spectrum to fulfil their potential and to lead positive, productive and rewarding lives. We do believe that through these #GameON clinics and programs, not only will our mission be reached, but that self-worth and confidence will be increased by participants while also providing new opportunities to develop and build friendships. We are looking forward to sharing all the incredible moments together with you as the program progresses.

3. Entries now open for Drive to SA Open 2017 series
Raise funds for Els for Autism, play some of South Africa’s great courses…and compete for a place in next year’s SA Open Pro Am. That’s what ‘Drive to SA Open’ is all about! The 2017 series has just been launched and we’d love you to join us (the full tournament schedule is shown below). Winners of each event qualify for the grand final at Fancourt, where they will play for a spot in the SA Open Pro Am in January 2018.

“Looking back on 2016, after the dust has settled, we can reflect that it was a truly amazing year for Els for Autism in South Africa and for our Drive to SA Open series,” commented Nico Van Rensburg, Business Development Manager of the Els Group and coordinator of the Drive to SA Open series. “We had 14 golf days, with the grand final taking place at the Ernie Els-designed Highland Gate. The winners were fortunate enough to play in this year’s SA Open at Glendower. Ernie invited Rory McIlroy and the crowds came in their thousands. It was a huge success.”

Nico goes on to say, “our Drive to SA Open 2017 series has already started – albeit a tad early at San Lameer on 14 December – and it promises to be even bigger and better than last year. We are hosting this year’s final at Fancourt in November and, with 18 golf days planned for this year, we are looking forward to seeing all of you on these beautiful golf courses in support of Els for Autism South Africa.”

2017 Tournament Schedule
14 December, Sanlameer
8 March, Pretoria CC
7 April, Omeya Golf Club, Namibia
11 May, Zimbali
18 May, Pearl Valley (includes #GameON autism clinic)
25 May, Houghton GC
1 June, Royal Jhb East
22 June, St Francis Bay
29 June, Randpark GC (includes #GameON autism clinic)
21 July, Oubaai
27 July, The Els Club Copperleaf
31 August, Kempton Park
14 September, Fancourt (club members only)
28 September, Mount Edgecombe CC (includes #GameON autism clinic)
20 October, Silver Lakes (includes #GameON autism clinic)
26 October, Ebotse Links
2-3 November, Grand Final at Fancourt (includes #GameON autism clinic)
11 November, Steenberg

Finally, a big thank you to all of our wonderful sponsors…

– Ernie Els Wines
– TaylorMade
– Fancourt
– Yamaha
– Courier IT
– Compleat Golfer magazine
– Hilton Hotels
– Kappa
– Supergra
– GolfWeather

We couldn’t do this without you!

For further information regarding golf days email:
For requests regarding fundraising opportunities email:
For details regarding upcoming events for our families visit our Facebook Page.




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