Premier IPT preview; Gaut­eng North Sil­ver Salver; SA Women’s Am­a­teur.

South­ern Cape Golf hosts the Premier In­ter­provin­cial as Gar­den Route golf basks in golden era

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - By Barry Havenga

South­ern Cape is one of the smaller golf unions, yet even with just 7 200 af­fil­i­ated mem­bers it punches well above its weight in com­pet­i­tive golf and is en­vied for its close-knit com­mu­nity and sound ad­min­is­tra­tion. It also pre­sides over one of the world’s most at­trac­tive and pop­u­lar golf des­ti­na­tions, the Gar­den Route.

One of those spec­tac­u­lar new cour­ses which have helped boost golf tourism in this part of the coun­try, the Ernie Els­de­signed Oubaai near Ge­orge, will from Septem­ber 17 to 21 become the first course in the re­gion in 45 years to host the Premier In­ter­provin­cial, being played for the 58th time.

South­ern Cape was a sub-union of the East­ern Prov­ince Golf Union when in 1973 the IPT was last played at Ge­orge Golf Club, a pe­riod when the old SA Golf Union was ex­per­i­men­tally taking the tour­na­ment to smaller towns such as Ge­orge, Her­manus and Pha­l­aborwa. South­ern Cape re­mained a sub-union un­til 1998 when to­gether with Boland, Mpumalanga and Lim­popo it was awarded full provin­cial union sta­tus un­der the new ex­pan­sive era of the SA Golf As­so­ci­a­tion.

The South­ern Cape, which in its early days had just five 18-hole cour­ses, be­gan to be seen as a golf­ing des­ti­na­tion for the first time with the de­vel­op­ment of the Fan­court re­sort in Ge­orge in the early 1990s.The beau­ti­ful coastal ter­rain lent it­self to vis­ually at­trac­tive golf sites.Along came GooseVal­ley, Pezula, Oubaai, Si­mola, Kingswood and Pin­na­cle Point, and there might have been sev­eral other cour­ses but for the fi­nan­cial cri­sis in 2008 which shut down a num­ber of pro­jected golf es­tates.

South­ern Cape will be rep­re­sented in the A sec­tion of the IPT at Oubaai, and it’s a mea­sure of how quickly their team has pro­gressed in re­cent years that they will be among the favourites to win the ti­tle, some­thing they first achieved just two years ago at Fish River Sun. This was only seven years af­ter mak­ing their IPT de­but at Dur­ban Coun­try Club in 2009, when they won the B sec­tion. Pre­vi­ously they had played in the Coun­try Dis­tricts tour­na­ment.

The re­gion has al­ways had promis­ing tal­ent, go­ing back to the era of John Mitchell, John Rim­bault, Gary Thain, An­ton Haak­man and Lanny Davids, but the es­tab­lish­ment of strong golf academies in the new mil­len­nium took that tal­ent to the next level.The Ernie Els & Fan­court Foun­da­tion was first to make a mark, and then the KeNako Academy ad­join­ing the Kingswood es­tate in Ge­orge run by for­mer Euro­pean Tour player Roger Wes­sels, who has de­vel­oped into one of our lead­ing coaches. His academy sup­plied five of the eight mem­bers of the South­ern Cape team that won the Ju­nior In­ter­provin­cial for the first time in 2015 at Worces­ter.

Louis Oosthuizen, who hails from Al­ber­tinia and yet played provin­cial golf for Boland, has his own Louis57 Academy at Pin­na­cle Point in Mos­sel Bay, and it has al­ready pro­duced the youngest SA Am­a­teur cham­pion in Christo Lam­precht (at Hume­wood in 2017), while in 16-year-old Mart­inVorster it has the first South African to win The Ju­nior Open, at St An­drews.

Bran­den Grace, win­ner of last year’s Ned­bank Chal­lenge, is an­other South­ern Cape grad­u­ate, hav­ing come through the Ernie Els & Fan­court Foun­da­tion.

How­ever, the big­gest ac­co­lade for the union came in June, when Jo­van Re­bula, 20-year-old nephew of Ernie Els, won the Bri­tish Am­a­teur at Royal Aberdeen, just the sec­ond South African to do so. Re­bula grew up in Ge­orge and cap­tained the win­ning Ju­nior IPT team in 2015 be­fore de­part­ing for Amer­ica on a golf schol­ar­ship to Auburn Univer­sity.

The South­ern Cape GU now has 26 cour­ses un­der its ad­min­is­tra­tion, seven of which rank in the top 30 of Golf Di­gest’s Top 100 Cour­ses.

“When I joined the union in 2002 our fi­nan­cial re­port was a one-page doc­u­ment writ­ten in pen­cil! Now it’s a 30-page Ex­cel spread­sheet,” says Tan­nah Har­ris, SCGU pres­i­dent since 2005 and in­tro­duced to golf ad­min­is­tra­tion by South­ern Cape golf­ing stal­wart Harry Wes­son.“The big­gest plus for us is the friend­ship that ex­ists between our clubs. Ev­ery­one works for the ben­e­fit of golf and we now have four full-time staff mem­bers at our of­fices at Ge­orge GC.

“We take pol­i­tics out of the game; our rep­re­sen­ta­tive teams are se­lected on an or­der of merit ba­sis so there is no grey area. Our di­rec­tor of golf Billy Va­len­tyn (a tal­ented golfer him­self who lost in the

nal of the 2004 SA Am­a­teur at Paarl) has been ap­proached by three other unions, seek­ing our ad­vice on how we run things in the South­ern Cape.

“I told Billy he should ab­so­lutely help out with ad­vice and in­sight where pos­si­ble — it’s all about get­ting more peo­ple to play the game.”

When the SAGA asked Har­ris to pro­vide a shortlist of cour­ses that might be avail­able to host the Premier IPT, he re­sponded with the full list of 18-holers, such is the will­ing­ness of clubs in the re­gion to sup­port the am­a­teur game. Oubaai has al­ready proven it­self as a tour­na­ment venue on the Sun­shine Tour, and hosted the Mid-Am­a­teur IPT last year. It has ex­cel­lent prac­tice fa­cil­i­ties, and a ho­tel on site at which the play­ers and o cials will stay.

The host union will eld a pow­er­ful lineup at Oubaai in their at­tempt to re­gain the IPT crown.Va­len­tyn will again man­age the team that fea­tures Lam­precht andVorster, with sea­soned IPT vet­er­ans Ni­cholas Mitchell and Ivan Williams the cap­tain and vice-cap­tain re­spec­tively.The other four play­ers are 2017 SA Am­a­teur

nal­ist Cay­lum Boon, Carlo He­u­nis, Hans-Jurie Hu­man and 17-year-old ju­nior Ben van Wyk.

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Cen­tral Gaut­eng have won three of the last four IPTs but at the time of go­ing to print were likely to in­clude only two mem­bers of their win­ning team from Bryanston last year — Ryan Dreyer and cap­tain Darin de Smidt.

KwaZulu-Natal’s chances were dealt a blow when SA in­ter­na­tional Matt Saulez with­drew in or­der to com­pete in the rst stage of the Euro­pean Tour Qual­i­fy­ing School. KZN should still con­tend for hon­ours with a team which in­cludes Mal­colm Mitchell, Clay­ton Mans eld, the ev­er­green Gavin Sole and SA MidA­ma­teur cham­pion Derek Scullard.

Western Prov­ince, af­ter su er­ing the ig­nominy of rel­e­ga­tion from the A sec­tion last year at Bryanston, will be play­ing in the B Sec­tion for the

rst time in 35 years and should have enough re­power to bounce straight back up, par­tic­u­larly if it’s a breezy week at Oubaai.

South­ern Cape team, from left: Sheila Fraser (sec­re­tary/fi­nance), Billy Va­len­tyn (di­rec­tor of golf), Hein­rich Lourens (as­sis­tant di­rec­tor), Lindy Mur­ray (golf co­or­di­na­tor).

SCGU pres­i­dent Tan­nah Har­ris.

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