Kudos to Hayes but what a Watson faux pas
There are many great South African sportsmen and women who have been inducted into the SA Sports Hall of Fame at Sun City, but few could beat the sheer passion and love for his game of the latest member of that elite group.
Sure, Dale Hayes would not really come into the discussion when it comes to South Africa’s greatest golfers, although he did win many titles around the world and topped the European Tour Order of Merit in 1975. But there is no-one who can match Hayes when it comes to sheer enthusiasm for the game, whether it be at grassroots level at some club in the Magaliesburg or at the Masters, which he played in three times, with a best finish of tied19th in 1976.
Even if his professional career was over by the early 1980s, Hayes has become one of the most recognisable faces of South African golf due to his broadcast work, in which his knowledge of the game was displayed but also his infectious love of golf and the warmth of his personality.
His choice of jokes may sometimes be a bit iffy, but for his huge contribution to his sport, Dale Hayes thoroughly deserved his induction into the SA Sports Hall of Fame at Sun City this week.
While perusing the displays inside the actual Hall of Fame, I came across a multimedia screen displaying the name Doug Watson.
If you are thinking of South Africa’s moustachioed bowls world champion of the 1970s, you’d be @KenBorland wrong. It turns out the Doug Watson in question is the cricketer who played for KwaZulu-Natal and SA A in the 1990s.
Not that I didn’t admire Watson the cricketer – he was a reliable, determined opening batsman and one of the stalwarts of local cricket during a career that spanned 139 first-class and 136 limited-overs matches, but it probably shows that the internet is not always the best research resource.
Google “Doug Watson” and the cricketer comes up first, but I’m pretty sure he is not the intended recipient of Hall of Fame honours. I know the 1970s were a long time ago, but one would still expect better.
Gary Player, a long-time friend of Hayes, was present at the induction and most people would agree he is South Africa’s greatest ever sportsman. Most 83-yearolds are quietly contemplating life from their rocking chairs, but Player is still the picture of energy, a ubiquitous figure at Sun City, where this week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge is very much his beloved child.
He is still very hands-on with the running of the tournament. It was apparently at his insistence that the greenkeepers have moved the 18th tee back 30 metres. Most of the golfers have criticised the move, saying it only encourages them to go for pars because they now have to take long-irons over the water to the green.
Player wanted more of a risk/ reward factor on the final hole, so it’s another of those situations when changes have the exact opposite effect as was intended.
The Gary Player Country Club has made the 18th hole into a virtual stadium with grandstands all around it and hopefully there will be a grandstand finish to the Nedbank Golf Challenge tomorrow.
It is a tournament that has made an indelible mark on our golfing history, much like Player and Hayes, in whatever guise it takes as it heads into its fourth decade.