Gilly Tebbutt wins 40th club championship.
The many achievements of Hall of Fame golfer Gilly Tebbutt make her the most successful women’s amateur in the history of South Africa. She has won numerous national titles and represented her country at world tournaments.
But possibly her greatest achievement in golf took place at her home club, Rondebosch, in Cape Town, in March when she won the Club Championship title for the 40th time. This is thought to be a world record for a golfer at the same club.
Still playing off a 1-handicap in her 60s, Tebbutt had scores of 77 and 75 to claim a special milestone in her golfing career. Her first title was as 19-year-old Gilly Whitfield in 1973, and over the next 45 championships she was only beaten six times.
“I played my first championships in 1972,” said Tebbutt, “and the reason I remember the year is that I had matriculated from Rustenburg Girls’ High in 1971.The champs used to be played over 36 holes on a Tuesday, and in those days no girl would have been allowed the day off school to play golf!
“Nowadays the champs are on a weekend to accommodate the working members.”
Gilly’s older sister Lynn was also a talented golfer, and won 8 club championships at Rondebosch, starting in 1966. She won seven in a row before her younger sibling took charge.The two of them have thus won 48 of the last 53 championships!
“I have never missed the club champs since 1972, which means I have played in 47 of them in a row,” said Tebbutt. “These days I only play golf once a week at either Rondebosch or Hermanus, and never practice. My only competitive golf is league. However, this year I did prepare for the champs for two weeks on the range beforehand. I always want to do my best in them.”
Many golfers win several club championships simply because they don’t have much in the way of strong opponents – former Eastern Province golfer Lynn Slogrove has 39 club titles in the Eastern Cape, at three clubs, beginning in 1987, Humewood (22), St Francis Bay (13) and St Francis Links (4) – but Rondebosch has always attracted the best women golfers in the Western Province.And a number of them have represented South Africa, not just Tebbutt.
“There was a stage when virtually the entire WP team came from Rondebosch, players like Vanessa Smith, Francis Botha, Nicky le Roux, Joanne Lefson, Lorraine Todt and Carol Purcell (nee Charnock). So I had to play very good golf to keep
winning against them. It needed to be sub-par golf, and I think my best total was five-under for 36 holes. My lowest round at Rondebosch was a 64, but that was in a Tuesday afternoon club competition.” She’s also had 9 holes-in-one, three of them at Rondebosch.
Tebbutt’s 40 titles have come in five different decades. She won six times in the 1970s, nine each in the 80s and 90s, while 16 have come in the new millennium. Her best streak was 14 straight titles from 1985 to 1998 when she was the top female golfer in the country.
Tebbutt was inducted into the SA Golf Hall of Fame in 2010. NOTE: American golfer Joan Comisar, a former Ohio state champion now in her 80s, has won 47 club championships, but these were at three different golf clubs. She won 29 titles at her home club, Kenwood in Cincinnati, and another 18 in Palm Springs, California, where her family had a winter home.
TWO MILESTONES FOR JOHNSON AND SANDER
Stan Johnson, 80, played in his 60th Club Championship at Krugersdorp Golf Club. A four-time past champion, Johnson joined Krugersdorp in 1954. He’s missed 3 championships in his lifetime. A former provincial golfer, who represented Western Transvaal at more than 20 Premier Interprovincials, Johnson still plays off a 9-handicap and shot 84-81 from the forward tees to finish among the net prizewinners in the A division.
Brian Sander, 78, played in his 50th consecutive Club Championships at Cullinan Golf Club in Gauteng North. He has played in the A Division for 44 years – his lowest handicap was 2 – and won the title six times, with a best score of 143.This year he was in the B Division, playing off 12.
A member at Cullinan since 1967, he has had 11 holes-in-one, nine of them on No 8 at Cullinan. During a Saturday round with three youngsters, one asked Brian if he had ever seen someone have a hole-in-one. He showed them that day, hitting the perfect shot on the eighth.
Gilly Tebbutt with the Rondebosch women’s club championship trophy, opposite page, and holing out on the final green in front of supporters.
Brian Sander at Cullinan.