A short history of the influence of
Shortly after World War II Michael Florance, in his capacity as Personnel Officer of NUMICS, was authorised to implement his proposal that a Social & Sporting Club be formed to enable Staff members to get to know each other. Being a keen golfer, Mike became the Honorary organiser of the Golf Club. Membership was soon extended to business associates and friends and meetings became even more enjoyable.
Mike soon evolved a modus operandi for the club, incorporating several features new to the South African golfing scene, all of which added to the interest and enjoyment of the participants. So the Golf Club went on its merry way, giving much pleasure to its members for a number of years - until 1959 when the company disbanded holding its final meeting that March. At this meeting, Mike and a fair number of members felt that an organisation which had engendered such great camaraderie and enjoyment should not be allowed to disappear and as Mike said in a follow-up letter on the subject, he "was assailed on all sides to continue, in some form or another, a similar type of association."
In Mike's words "A long experience in and enjoyment of Golf left me, in 1959, with a deeply held feeling that there was room in this game for some kind of association or club for business and professional men to come together in a closely planned and integrated programme of golf, with all games inter-related and offering a continuing thread of interest, and that out of this activity could arise some tangible benefit to two very proper causes: to the game of golf itself, and to those less fortunate than ourselves."
Still not having a course of their own, Mike Florance and his committee announced in 1960 the formation of the NOMADS Golf Club.
The special "Rules of Play" used then are still in use today. The guiding principles being: Fellowship (fourball); Least inconvenience to Club members - avoiding slow play (stableford medal, continuous putting, calling up on short holes etc) and Courteous Behaviour (properly dressed, fines for misdemeanours etc).
In addition to each monthly meeting being a complete competition in itself, the annual competitions (or their forerunners) were in place so that there was always that little extra to consider when playing your game. In forming the club, it was stressed that a Member's first loyalty was to his home club which should always take precedence.
For a substantial portion of the period 1960-4 Mike Florance ran the club with the help of a couple of Members and sponsors female staff. Such was the impact of this individual that whilst his strong personality did not endear him to everyone, his degree of professionalism in respect of his organisational ability and his command of both written and spoken English the movement flourished and expanded.
In 1965 Ludie Ludeman was nominated as Captain of the Transvaal club with Mike in the engine room as Match Secretary. Regrettably Ludie was unable to undertake the position and so it fell to Aussie Bill Wilson to become their first Captain.
During this period Mike relinquished his virtual total control over NOMADS with the formation of a National Management Committee and although this Committee was strongly influenced by Mike's vision of the future for NOMADS eventually with the pressures involved in handling, either directly or indirectly, the 4 clubs already in existence and the Rhodesian club already under formation, Mike handed over the running of NOMADS to a duly constituted National Executive.
The club and its systems continued to develop in an orderly manner until late 1960s when a major dispute arose with the result that Mike Florance was forced to leave the club he had founded. However, he never lost interest in NOMADS and kept abreast of it's affairs through friends. In 1989, in recognition of his achievement of setting up such a unique club and with his health rapidly deteriorating, Mike Florance was invited back into the NOMADS Golf Club by the National Council. Mike was buried in his NOMADS blazer in August 1989.
Among many of his other legacies at club level Mike was responsible for more widespread influences such as the formation of the SA Golf Foundation in 1960, the first National Tournament held at Kyalami in 1966 and, in 1962, devising the system which is now used at all major golf tournaments and came to be known as Golforama.
(The following tribute to Mike was spoken at the Eastern Transvaal meeting within days following Mike's death, by the then National PRO who, over the years since the formation of our Archives in 1983, spent very many hours in the company of this amazing man, in earnest conversation, discovering at first hand the origins of our Club. No apology is given for the unashamed personal sentiment displayed in this obituary and in the same vein no offence is intended if our views differ.)
"During the night of August 10/11th our Founder, Mike Florance, died,
four days short of his 74th birthday.
Mike was a BIG man, not only in terms of his physical stature but for his commanding presence in everything he did. His ability with words, not only spoken but written as well, placed him in the top echelon of persuasive power. This ability with words enabled him through clarity of reasoning and a remarkable memory for detail, to marshal his thoughts clearly and succinctly in all that he did, to the point that he was a formidable person with whom to have to debate any issue.
Out of such abilities and his incredible organisational skills arose the Club that we all love so dearly - NOMADS
I have here two items - one, the standard Nomads diary cover which is given to all Nomads when they are inducted and which contains the Constitution and Rules of Play and with which you are all familiar in varying degrees. This item is the tangible side of Nomadic endeavour, remarkable in the fact that the details are barely changed since their inception so many years ago other than to accommodate the proliferation of Clubs throughout the country.
The second is a thin volume aptly named "This is the Nomads" which was written by Mike in 1966, in which he sets out the more philosophical side of Nomads.
This booklet contains a lot of his thinking behind the various aspects of
what we as Nomads have come to accept today as the norm but which in those days
nearly 30 years ago was a radical departure from then current golfing
Mike has raised a monument to his own particular special abilities not only in this booklet but in the Club which will forever remain as tangible proof of his superb skills.
In closing I would like to read a quotation from his booklet:
Gentlemen, I will now recite the words which have been our creed for the past 29 years and would ask you in the moments of silence following to think on the poignancy of those words on this sad occasion as we remember our Founder - Mike Florance.
'No man is an island entire of itself;