By Stuart McLean, Editor
olf is full of extraordinary happenings, and a rare event occurred at Westlake GC in Cape Town in September that is worth recording at a time when the game, and these pages, is in need of positive news.
There was a shotgun start in the regional event of the Mercedes-Benz Ladies Classic.The group waiting to tee o on the par-3 17th at 12 noon weren’t sure who should go rst, so Mowbray member Sherin Rawlins volunteered. A 28-handicap, she took out her driver, swung with conviction, and the shot headed for the green.The ball vanished from sight once it landed on the undulating green, and only people standing next to the green saw it fall in the hole. Sherin wouldn’t believe her good fortune until she actually saw the ball for herself. And then, as the photo shows, the celebrations began.
But the story gets better.The people next to the green were not there by chance. They were stationed on the hole for auditing purposes.There was a prize for a hole-in-one on 17 that day: a R650 000 two-door Mercedes-Benz 250SLK sports coupe!
The odds on the average golfer having a hole-in-one are 12 000-to-one, so how many have had a hole-in-one in South Africa with the rst tee shot of their round? In fact, I nd out, it’s a common occurrence.This leads to another story.There have been 20 aces on the opening hole, a short par 3, at Simbithi, the executive Par-60 course on the KZN North Coast. All came with the
rst shot of the day. But get this: six of them were by “golfers” playing the very rst round of their lives! And, yes, amateurs are allowed to accept
Ghole-in-one prizes of this enormous value (it’s unlimited), the proviso being that the hole-in-one must occur during a round of golf and be incidental to that round. Contests conducted other than on a golf course do not qualify under this provision.
The R&A effected this change in January, 2012, when they carried out a fundamental review of the Rules of Amateur Status. Previously, a hole-inone prize was subject to the same restrictions as that for a longest drive or nearest the pin. A club golfer winning a car and driving o with it would have had to forfeit his or her amateur status and become a pro. It happened often, and for lesser-priced items like a set of golf clubs.
Why was this rule changed? It lies in the very nature of the hole-in-one. Even though there is an element of skill attached to having one, it is largely down to luck. Who will ever forget James Kingston’s tee shot in the 2002 Alfred Dunhill Championship when it was played at Houghton?You can view it on YouTube. His pulled tee shot on the old 15th struck trees well to the left of the green, and bounced back down a slope, running into the hole. He also won a sports car on that occasion.