RYDER CUP IN THE SUNDAYS RIVER VALLEY
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.