Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Living Golf Courses -

he most ex­cit­ing new club com­pe­ti­tion of 2016 has been the Wind­hoek Lager In­ter­na­tional Pairs, played over a bet­ter­ball Sta­ble­ford for­mat. It re­ceived a great ova­tion from lo­cal golfers – the in­au­gu­ral Pairs had 162 qual­i­fy­ing events, with 11 010 par­tic­i­pants, played over 12 weeks – and now the 2017 com­pe­ti­tion is un­der­way.

Open to mem­bers of golf clubs, for an en­try fee of R60, it has given South African golfers the op­por­tu­nity to rep­re­sent their clubs at re­gional, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional level, play­ing with the part­ner of their choice.The top per­form­ers at the 2016 Wind­hoek Lager events qual­i­fied for the re­gional play­offs, and the best of those, 24 pairs in all, ad­vanced to the Na­tional Fi­nals at Wind­hoek CC and Omeya GC in Namibia in June last year.

Events like these are pop­u­lar at clubs big and small – there were 162 qual­i­fy­ing events for the 2016 Pairs – and in­ter­est­ingly it was the mem­bers of smaller clubs who did best in Namibia.

The two best pair­ings there, Mark Roux (12 hand­i­cap) and Jeanne Koege­len­berg (9), from Dar­ling Golf Club in the Western Cape, and Nico van der Westhuizen (11) and Jo­han Groe­newald (5), from Sishen Golf Club in the North­ern Cape, won the ul­ti­mate trip of rep­re­sent­ing South Africa in the In­ter­na­tional play­offs in Spain.

The Na­tional Fi­nals were played over 36 holes, and Roux and Koege­len­berg posted scores of 41 and 45 for a to­tal of 86, to win by three points from Van der Westhuizen and Groe­newald.Third on 82, and miss­ing out nar­rowly on the trip to Spain, were Rikus (5) and Piet Oosthuizen (15) from Albertinia Golf Club in the South­ern Cape.Yes, they are the brother and fa­ther of cham­pion golfer Louis Oosthuizen.

“Our vi­sion is to have ev­ery golf club and ev­ery af­fil­i­ated golfer par­tic­i­pate in our event, and hav­ing Dar­ling, Sishen and Albertinia in the top 3 at Wind­hoek was in­dica­tive of our vi­sion be­ing achieved,” said Ian Steven­son, Global Spon­sor­ship and Events Man­ager at Namib­ian Brew­eries.

Played in con­junc­tion with the Wind­hoek Lager In­ter­na­tional Pairs was the Africa Jacket sin­gles, which be­gan in 2013, and this year in­cluded 10 African coun­tries. Gil­lian Ham­mond (St Fran­cis Links) was the ladies cham­pion. The two South African pairs jet­ted off to Spain at the begin­ning of Novem­ber to com­pete over two rounds at the De­nia Marriott La Sella Golf Re­sort & Spa, on the Costa Blanca near Ali­cante.

Both pairs did ex­cep­tion­ally well on a tight golf course against 24 other com­bi­na­tions from 12 coun­tries, tak­ing ad­van­tage of ex­cel­lent weather.

In an ex­cit­ing fin­ish, Mark Roux and Jeanne Koege­len­berg from Dar­ling had bet­ter­ball scores of 43 and 46 to fin­ish sec­ond over­all with 89 points, one point be­hind the vic­to­ri­ous United States pair, who had 46 and 44. On the sec­ond day, the Western Cape pair were five points be­hind with nine holes to play, and a fi­nal nine of 25 points saw them close to within one point.

Sishen golfers Nico van der Westhuizen and Jo­han Groe­newald had 40 and 43 to tie for third place on 83 with one of the Eng­land pair­ings.

New in­ter­na­tional friend­ships were forged be­tween the na­tions, which is what the Wind­hoek Lager In­ter­na­tional Pairs is all about.

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