Ku­dos to Hayes but what a Wat­son faux pas

The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT -

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.

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