INSIDE THE ROPES
South African business magnate Sol Kerzner is a surprise inclusion in the latest list of inductees for the Southern African Golf Hall of Fame. The 79-year-old developed the Sun City resort in the late 1970s, and in 1981 launched the Million Dollar Challenge, which remains the biggest golf tournament in Africa under its current guise as the Nedbank Challenge. Kerzner has gone on to establish other iconic resorts around the globe.
One of the winners of those early Million Dollar tournaments, former PGA Tour player Fulton Allem (57), is among the other inductees familiar to us, along with retired professional John Fourie (75) and Zimbabwe’s Lewis Chitengwa, who died in 2001 at the age of 26. Being inducted from a previous era are former SA Open champion Ronnie Glennie, SA ladies champion Mrs A E Vernon (between the world wars), and administrator Henry ( Walter)
Conyers Kirby, who served as SA Golf Union secretary from 1922 to 1946. Kirby enjoyed the nickname of “Mussolini,” earned out of respect for his leadership rather than any ruthlessness.
Allem, from a wealthy Viljoenskroon farming family in the Free State, had a chequered career on the Sunshine Tour, where he was both a regular winner and outspoken character. After winning the Million Dollar in 1988, when it was an 8-man field, he went on to win three times on the PGA Tour in America in the early 90s.
Fourie followed up an outstanding amateur career with a lengthy spell of success on both the Sunshine and European tours, while at the same time serving as club professional at Pretoria Golf Club. In 1992 he won the Senior British Open at Royal Lytham.
Chitengwa was the first black golfer to win the SA Amateur, as an 18-year-old at East London GC in 1993. He was an exceptional talent, and playing in America when he died suddenly from a rare form of meningitis at the age of 26.
Glennie, a member at Rondebosch Golf Club in Cape Town, where his achievements are on display in the clubhouse, was one of the great post-war amateurs who won both the SA Open (1947) and SA Amateur (1949). This year is the centenary of his birth.