Jonathan Rae was destined for great things before his world was turned upside down. He was a mechanical engineering student and dreamed of playing golf on a professional level. He was planning on turning professional in 2017, but his life didn’t go according to plan.
In May 2017, Jonathan was diagnosed with Wilson’s Disease – a rare genetic disorder that causes copper poisoning in the body, which affects one in 30 000 people globally. Those affected display neurological symptoms similar to Parkinson’s Disease, such as speech difficulties and tremors.
Unfortunately, because of his inability to write by hand, he was forced to leave university after completing only two years of his engineering degree.
Now, his biggest challenge is making it through a regular day. Speaking clearly, seeing to his personal grooming and feeding himself are just a few of the challenges he faces. “This condition has basically turned my whole life around,” he says.
Jonathan started playing golf at the age of 13. He competed in the SA Open Qualifiers three times and managed to place in the top 200 South African Amateur Rankings.
Fortunately, he can still play golf despite his shaking hands. “It only really affects your short game. The long game is more strength than finesse,” he says.
Jonathan views golf as the best platform to give back to charities and underprivileged children, and plans on raising awareness of his disease through golf. He explains: “The disease has taught me not to take anything for granted. At my last competitive round of golf, I shot a 68. Three months later I couldn’t even open a bottle.”
He joined Randpark Club in April 2018 and views it as one of the most well-tended courses in Gauteng. The Club has welcomed him enthusiastically and supports him in his journey.
“We are delighted to have Jonathan as a member of our club and will provide him with all the support he may need to achieve his goals and dreams” says Francois Swart, GM of Randpark.
And Jonathan’s comment? “I think the best way to describe Randpark would be family. Any other golf course I’ve been to I’ve felt alone and isolated, but here everyone is welcoming and treats me literally like family.”