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.