WIN­NING LET­TER

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Gallery -

It is most heart­en­ing to see that Eu­pho­ria Golf Es­tate in Lim­popo is out of liq­ui­da­tion, and has been pur­chased by Sam­pada Pri­vate Eq­uity, mak­ing it the first black-owned golf es­tate in the coun­try. I be­lieve it is to be re-launched in Septem­ber af­ter a R20-mil­lion up­grade.

Eu­pho­ria is an ex­cel­lent day out from the clut­ter of the city, as I dis­cov­ered re­cently. Friendly staff, good food, a beau­ti­ful set­ting in the Water­berg, and chal­leng­ing golf course. It is hard to beat.

The course, now eight years old and de­signed by An­nika Soren­stam, is as su­perb as it al­ways has been, in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion de­spite the drought in the re­gion. Be­ing at Eu­pho­ria gives you a won­der­ful bushveld ex­pe­ri­ence, and I love the fact that you gen­er­ally can’t see any of the other holes while play­ing Golf Di­gest gives us good cov­er­age of am­a­teur golf, some­thing which you strug­gle to find in the me­dia these days. So in your Au­gust is­sue I was sur­prised to see the se­lec­tion of the three-man South African men’s team for the world champs. None of the top play­ers on the Golf Di­gest am­a­teur rank­ings, Al­bert Ven­ter, Aubrey Beck­ley and James du Preez, are rep­re­sented! And two of the play­ers in the SA team are not even in the top 10 of your rank­ings. How is that pos­si­ble, or don’t your rank­ings re­flect cur­rent form? Anony­mous, email ED­I­TOR’S RE­PLY Golf Di­gest has pub­lished its rank­ings of am­a­teur play­ers since 1997, an era when there was no other rank­ing of play­ers at na­tional level. They have cred­i­bil­ity with the play­ers. The SAGA sub­se­quently de­vel­oped their own sep­a­rate rank­ing sys­tem, and na­tional teams are cho­sen from that rank­ing. The SAGA rank­ings have more in com­mon with the World Rank­ing, in that play­ers ac­cu­mu­late points and di­vide the to­tal by the num­ber of events they play. The Golf Di­gest rank­ings the course. This is a unique fea­ture of Eu­pho­ria.

How­ever, what I most wanted to com­ment about Eu­pho­ria is that it is a par­adise for bird watch­ers. I started iden­ti­fy­ing birds a few years ago, and Eu­pho­ria is with­out a doubt the No 1 course in South Africa for hav­ing the most species of birds, and also eas­ily spotting them. I saw an un­be­liev­able 130 species in one day in the mid­dle of win­ter. Many birds mi­grate, so a are more like the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup; the more events you play, the more points you ac­cu­mu­late. It re­wards fre­quent ac­tiv­ity.

We were also sur­prised by the se­lec­tion of the Eisen­hower Tro­phy team, par­tic­u­larly the ex­clu­sion of Ven­ter (right), who has been one of the star per­form­ers in lo­cal golf over the past year. He won two of the big­gest ti­tles this year, the African Am­a­teur at Leop­ard Creek and WP Stroke­play at Clovelly. But leav­ing out good play­ers is noth­ing new for the SAGA. Richard Sterne in­ex­pli­ca­bly failed to make the Eisen­hower team in 2000. Thomas Aiken and Ge­orge Coet­zee never played in the Eisen­hower.

We don’t be­lieve that teams should be se­lected from fixed di­vis­i­ble rank­ing sys­tems, be­cause there is room for ma­nip­u­la­tion by play­ers. This also hap­pens on the World Rank­ing. Un­der the SAGA sys­tem, a player can get to No 1, and then re­tain his place by not play­ing golf be­cause he has a good av­er­age mark. Marco Steyn, No 1 on the SAGA sys­tem, has not played a lo­cal rank­ing event since April. Golf Di­gest cur­rently has Steyn at No 14 on our rank­ings. sum­mer list will be even larger. To think you can see around 15 per­cent of South Africa’s birds in one day on the same golf course is as­ton­ish­ing.

Among the most in­ter­est­ing were the Grey-headed Bushshrike, Burnt-necked Ere­mo­mela, Fairy Fly­catcher, Yel­low-bel­lied Green­bul, Grey Pen­du­line Tit,Tem­minck’s Courser, the Pur­ple Indigo­b­ird, and African Rail. Pi­eter Ver­ster, Gaut­eng

The best way to se­lect na­tional teams is to an­nu­ally set a cer­tain num­ber of tour­na­ments around the coun­try, in­land and coastal, in which the con­tenders must par­tic­i­pate, and then pick the best over­all per­form­ers.

Go­ing on cur­rent form this year, the strong­est team for the Eisen­hower would have been Ven­ter, Beck­ley and Jo­van Re­bula. They de­liv­ered the best re­sults and scores.

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