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.