RY­DER CUP IN THE SUN­DAYS RIVER VAL­LEY

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Gallery - Ken Nieuwen­huizen,Addo

The neigh­bour­ing towns of Kirk­wood and Addo, in the Sun­days River Val­ley of the East­ern Cape, have for the last 12 years played a Ry­der Cup­style golf match against each other. It’s played in Novem­ber each year at the 9-hole Kirk­wood Golf Club.This event has come to dom­i­nate the Kirk­wood GC cal­en­dar and, for a while, over­whelms the daily lives of its mem­bers and the lo­cal farm­ing com­mu­nity.

Although ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to “chirp” the op­po­si­tion is taken as this mas­sive en­counter draws near, the match is played in a fine spirit.The brag­ging rights are crit­i­cal, to en­sure that the year ahead can be en­joyed at any man­ner of fu­ture gath­er­ings or func­tions at which mem­bers of the op­po­si­tion are present, as un­re­lent­ing re­minders of the tem­po­rary own­er­ship of these rights are di­rected at the un­for­tu­nate losers, ei­ther po­litely or ven­omously, de­pend­ing on the na­ture of the com­pany and the oc­ca­sion!

On the eve of this year’s clash, the Addo team led the se­ries 6-5, hav­ing won the 2014 match. So the Kirk­wood boys were itch­ing to re­turn mat­ters to equi­lib­rium once again, and they nar­rowly achieved that in a closely fought 141½ to 13½ vic­tory.

It was in 2003 that then Kirk­wood club pres­i­dent, Han­sie van der Westhuizen, and a few fel­low mem­bers, sug­gested that a Ry­der Cup-styled so­cial day should be ar­ranged to draw the mem­bers to­gether for a “fun day of golf and fel­low­ship.” Lit­tle did he know it would be­come the premier event on the cal­en­dar of this lit­tle ru­ral club, and its largest fund-raiser, hence the lifeblood of the club.

The first match in Novem­ber 2004 had 20 play­ers a side, with an ini­tial “Boere” ver­sus “En­gelse” flavour added. The match was won by the “En­gelse” from Addo. While the colo­nial as­pect has dis­ap­peared, the in­ten­sity of the com­pe­ti­tion has pro­gres­sively in­creased.

Each team now con­sists of 28 play­ers, in­clud­ing two ladies, and all must be bona fide Kirk­wood GC mem­bers with of­fi­cial hand­i­caps.The morn­ing ses­sion is four­somes match­play, fol­lowed by a de­li­cious lunch, and then bet­ter­ball in the af­ter­noon.This forms part of a nor­mal BB com­pe­ti­tion with prizes at stake to en­sure that a full 18 holes are played and en­joyed by all.The prize­giv­ing is fol­lowed by the usual coun­try-style braai at which, need­less to say, salt is mer­ci­lessly rubbed deep into the wounds of the un­for­tu­nate los­ing team.

A prom­i­nent mem­ber and cit­rus farmer, Gary Webb, is the driv­ing force be­hind ob­tain­ing the gen­er­ous spon­sor­ships which are re­quired, with­out which the event would cer­tainly not be suc­cess­ful.The com­mit­tee does the rest. There is an “Open­ing Night” on the Wed­nes­day be­fore the match, at which the draw is done and where shirts, caps, sledg­ing, ex­ple­tives and bets are handed out with Ar­maged­don-like fo­cus!

Lit­tle imag­i­na­tion is re­quired in en­vis­ag­ing the hec­tic build up through to the fi­nal tee-offs, with the lat­est tech­nol­ogy and so­cial me­dia be­ing utilised to full ef­fect!

The day would not ex­ist with­out the enor­mous con­tri­bu­tion made by the one and only “Stan the Man.” Stan Stander is the club bar­man, green­keeper, caterer and club man­ager. As­sisted by his wife Ca­rina they en­sure that the day runs with­out hitches and that all the culi­nary and liq­uid ne­ces­si­ties re­quired by the in­ner man are taken care of.

The funds raised this year will en­sure that the Kirk­wood club re­mains a valu­able and in­te­gral part of the mem­bers’ lives for a lit­tle longer.

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