Papwa Sewgolum


Papwa’s story is the South African equivalent of Chariots of fire — Andre Odendaal, author of The Story of an African Game.

Papwa Sewgolum acquired his first golf ‘club’, a roughly hewn wooden stick, when he was just seven years old, and spent hours hitting an old gold ball into a tin can buried in his back yard.

From these humble beginnings the impoverished and illiterate Papwa came to dominate South African ‘ non-white’ golf in the 1950s and 1960′s. The government’s apartheid policies meant he was barred from playing in white tournaments and his remarkable talent was denied recognition. Then Graham Wulff, inventor of Oil of Olay, personally flew him to Europe where Papwa won the Prestigious Dutch Open in 1959 (and again in 1960 and 1964).

For a short period where the South African government gave permission for him to compete with whites and despite his non-conforming ‘wrong arm’ grip, he won the Natal Open twice, on one occasion dramatically beating the great Gary Player. But Papwa was soon banned from playing in tournaments with whites, forcibly moved from his home under the Group Areas Act and unable to sustain his career, died penniless as an alcoholic.

Papwa Sewgolum: From Pariah to Legend juxtaposes the barefoot sportsmen of the world with the wealthy, and geographically brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of Papwa’s extraordinary career, family life and Hindu spiritual world.


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