Summer Is Coming, and I Say Let's Put Some Fun Back into South African Golf

Cape Times (South Africa), September 15, 2011 | Go to article overview

Summer Is Coming, and I Say Let's Put Some Fun Back into South African Golf


UNLESS you are an avid follower of professional golf, you wouldn't have a clue where the European Tour is playing this week. As for the US PGA Tour, another new week, another beautiful looking golf course and another new winner.

Even back home in South Africa, it seems that something is missing. There's a "sameness" about the professional tours. All the events have the same format, most of the golf courses are perfect, but the fun has gone.

I say let's start right here in South Africa with a fun Sunshine Tour. Bring back different formats, like the Minolta Matchplay, the Randfontein Scramble, the Ellerines Better-ball, then add a mixed event plus a tour pro with a senior pro.

Ten years ago, we used to look forward to watching six tournaments a year, the four Majors, the World Matchplay from Wentworth, and the Ryder Cup, which was played every other year. Although the Matchplay has lost some of its glamour since it moved from Wentworth to Spain, the Ryder Cup week is still one of the highlights of the golfing calendar.

Last year's event had many golf enthusiasts glued to their TVs watching Europe just keep their noses ahead of the charging American team. Matchplay is guts and glory. It's about taking more risks than you would in a medal event. There's even a little gamesmanship and loads of strategy that isn't the same as the normal week-in and week-out tournaments.

Matchplay tournaments often give you strange winners, but winning is winning. On all the tours, there are so many excellent players that in a given week, any one of them can win.

On the European Tour in the '70 and '80s, they had many "special" events that were such fun to play, like the Marlboro Nine Nations Cup. Bobby Cole and I represented South Africa, and in the semi-final, we played the Scottish team of Brian Barnes and Bernard Gallacher. Gallacher and I had a huge argument on the 17th green, which ended in me giving him the match and storming off the golf course.

He and I never spoke again for a quarter-of-a-century. The other South Africans thought this was hysterical, and whenever Bernard and I were drawn together, they would call out for both of us to hear, "Another quiet round of golf!"

Double Diamond had another team tournament at Turnberry in Scotland which we could copy and have the African Nine Nations Cup. It would be great for golf development in South Africa and Africa as a whole, to have South Africa playing Zambia, Kenya and various other countries. I'm sure SuperSport would love to give an event like that coverage. …

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