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Champion of Champions

May 17, 2018

“Finding the Five GolfRSA National Divisional Champions“

Glendower Golf Club 5th – 7th November 2017

“Five months ago GolfRSA launched a tournament that pits the winners of the Club Championships of affiliated golf clubs around the country in a qualifying process against their counterparts from other participating clubs in the different Golf Unions.  In line with GolfRSA’s commitment to all amateur golfers the tournament is inclusive of players of all abilities and the winners of the Men’s A, B and C Divisions as well as the Ladies A / Silver and Bronze Divisions are eligible to represent their Golf Clubs at the Union Champions Finals.  The outcome is to identify the National Club Champion in all five handicap Divisions

It was important to launch the Tournament in 2017 in order to gain traction as well as to be able to gauge the response to the concept from the Club Golfers.  It was therefore with great commitment from a number of people that the tournament was launched at short notice and the qualifying process at the (vast majority of) the Golf Unions resulted in a very interesting National Final assembling at Glendower on Sunday 5th November.  Fifty-seven players travelled from all corners of South Africa to test their skills over the magnificent Glendower layout which is already in fantastic condition as Mike Burnard and his green-keeping staff prepare the course to host the 2018 SA Open Championship.

From Kathu to Kriel and PE to Polokwane, Champions of all ages and abilities gathered to pit their skills against one another in their quest to add the title of National Divisional Champion to their Club and Union Championship successes.  There was an age gap of many decades between 14-year old Kera Healy – a 5 handicap Club Champion from Eagle Canyon – and the sprightly C-Division Champion from KZN, Denis Fennell who still pushes his own trolley around Bluff National Park Golf Club; and Veronica Tredoux who is marginally younger than Denis.  It is common knowledge that this wonderful game not only provides a sporting outlet pretty much for life, but it also allows players of all abilities to compete on the same stage.  The National Final field comprised a vast selection of golfing ability with handicaps ranging significantly from the Men’s A-Division duo of Vaughn van Deventer of Ekurhuleni and Marco das Neves of Mpumalanga off Plus-3 to young Cinteche du Plessis from Gauteng North who plays off a 24 and Mumsy Boshomane from Ekurhuleni who qualified at the Union Champions Final off 28 but arrived at the National Final as a 25-handicap player.  Well done Mumsy – we hope your golf keeps going from strength to strength!

There were obviously many of the local players who had played Glendower before but most still took the opportunity to join the many out-of-town players who had never played the course, to enjoy a practice round on Sunday afternoon in preparation for the Final.  There is no doubt that Glendower is a challenging golf course that can bite back at any player who dares to think they have conquered the SA Open layout but it is a pleasure to play and the National Final competitors were unanimous in looking forward to testing themselves against their peers and the golf course.

That evening Martin Saaiman, President of Ekurhuleni Golf Union and 2nd Vice-President of the SA Golf Association welcomed the Champions to the Tournament and wished them well in their quest to become National Divisional Champions.  Dale Hayes then imparted words of wisdom on playing competitive golf and he also related various stories on great golfing Champions and other interesting golfing topics – as only Dale can.  Inspired and informed the competitors were ready for the challenge that lay ahead!

Monday dawned bright and sunny and it did not require too much activity on the driving range to warm-up in the hot conditions.  The field was led by the Men’s and Ladies’ A-Division players off the 1st and 10th tees respectively and so at precisely 10:00 AM the Ekurhuleni Champions – Vaughn van Deventer of State Mines and Caitlyn MacNab of Serengeti – hit the first drives of the inaugural GolfRSA Champion of Champions National Final.

The calm conditions of the early morning were disturbed as the wind started to pick up which just increased the test a little more for the players.  A mix of excitement, anticipation and nervous tension was present in abundance on the starting tees as fifty-seven Champions began what was to be an amazing golfing adventure for many who had never experienced Tournament conditions of such proportions.

As all golfers know only too well, it is not often that we achieve our desired outcome on the golf course and it was no different during the first round of the tournament.  Hopes of victory started diminishing amongst some as the odd wayward shot or nerve-induced bad decision resulted in some higher scores being recorded. Despite these slip-ups, it was a credit to every single player that the behaviour, sportsmanship and attitudes of all competitors was exemplary, and this contributed to a positive atmosphere of camaraderie throughout the Tournament.

Whilst some of the field battled the bogeys, there were others who were having the type of rounds that they had probably  dreamt of – led by young Caitlyn MacNab who blazed her way through the front nine in 5-under par; including a hole-in-one on the imposing 17th hole!  Well done Caitlyn and thanks to your Dad, Justin, for “ringing the bell” at the Champions’ Dinner – a brave man indeed!  Thanks also to Barry Steen, the Golf Manager of Glendower for arranging a Glendower GC Hole-in-one Certificate that was presented to Caitlyn by Sherida Stevens and Russel Moss – the Captains of Glendower.

Whilst Caitlyn – who got to 7-under after 11 holes – was blazing her way around the course, there were others who were having less fortune, such as the lady who will remain nameless but who took 12 strokes to complete the par-3 third hole.  At the same time Bertie Steenkamp of Upington GC in the Northern Cape was very steady as he managed his way around the course to a very credible 1-under par 71 which, like Caitlyn in the Ladies’ A-Division, meant he had a significant overnight lead.

This tournament is not only about the A-Division Champions and as important were the thirty-seven B, C and Bronze Division Champions – who make up the majority of the ordinary amateur golfers in the country – striving to become National Divisional Champions.

In the Men’s B-Division Neil Webster of PE Golf Club certainly did fulfil his dreams as he shot a great round of 79; as did Johan Brand of the Boland.  They were locked together at the top of the leader board overnight four ahead of Jason McCarthy of KZN with Krish Govinder of Southdowns and Humphrey Leteka of Maseru making up the top-5 of the Division.

The Ladies’ Bronze Division, in which the competitors played Stableford, Antoinette Human from Limpopo built a 3-point lead over Jennifer Theron from Heron Banks Golf Club with Cinteche du Plessis from Akasia a further point behind.  Lenie Cronje of Waterkloof was in fourth place overnight.

The Men’s C-Division, also playing Stableford, was keenly contested and Tyron Rees held a slim 1-shot lead over Shane le Roux of Worcester Golf Club in the Boland after the first round.  Lenn Fritz of State Mines was a further two points behind whilst Cilliers Malan of Thabazimbi Golf Club and young Nathan du Toit of Witbank Golf Club in Mpumalanga, both on 32 points, made up the top-5 on the leader board.

The Champions spent a relaxing evening together socialising and enjoying a braai before heading off to re-energise ready for the final 18 holes the next day.

Tuesday dawned equally hot and sunny as Day-1 and the field set off in pursuit of vastly different outcomes – ranging from improving on their previous day’s performance and contributing to their Union’s Team score, to having fun with new-found friends and of course for those in contention, to victory and becoming the GolfRSA National Divisional Champion of Champions!

There were some fantastic efforts from a number of players in all five Divisions who never gave up in their endeavours to catch the over-night leaders.

Men’s A-Division

In the Men’s A-Division, Jannie Bronkhorst of Polokwane and Vaughn van Deventer both shot 74’s to remain in the top-5 of the Division whilst Royal Durban’s Sebastian Terblanche’s 71 was 9 shots better than his score on Day-1 which moved him up into third place.  Another notable performance was that of Brent Kirstein of Westlake GC in Cape Town who shot 72 and made up 5 shots to finish just 2 behind over-night leader and eventual A-Division Champion Bertie Steenkamp.

It was an amazing effort from Bertie who originally hailed from the Boland but who moved to Upington twenty years ago and which is where he lives with his wife and young daughter.  Bertie’s life revolves around his family and his Financial Services business, with his main form of relaxation being golf when his back allows him to play.  Bertie has achieved a lot in golf having been awarded provincial colours for Boland and Northern Cape and was also selected to play for the SA Country Districts Team.  Bertie has a number of titles to his name and in fact he is defending one of them – the Karoo Open – this coming weekend; good luck Bertie we are rooting for you!

Champion Bertie Steenkamp – Upington GC, Northern Cape

 Ladies’ A-Division

There was no change at the top of the overnight Leaderboard in the Ladies’ A-Division as Caitlyn Macnab “got the job done” with a steady 75 to go with her more spectacular 71 on Day-1.  Lenanda van der Watt of Akasia, Jordan Rothman of Durbanville in the Western Province and Kera Healey the Eagle Canyon Champion followed Caitlyn in 2nd, 3rd and 4th place respectively, as they had been overnight.

It was wonderful to witness this 4-ball of young South African golfing talent having such fun together and even “high-fiving” each other in celebration of a good shot – whilst trying to beat one another!  It was a breath of fresh air to witness such camaraderie and sportsmanship in the midst of competition.

When interviewed after becoming Champion, Caitlyn summed-up the spirit when she said: “I had so much fun out there as I’m friends with everyone in the four-ball and I was just doing what I love. The win feels like a bonus.”  With this approach and attitude, we look forward to Caitlyn becoming a role model for many aspiring young golfers long into what we hope is a successful golfing future for her.

South African golf is very fortunate that this talented young sportswoman selected golf over a number of other sporting disciplines in which she has excelled.  With the honour of Victrix Ludorum and a number of records behind her in the field of athletics, Caitlyn could have looked to develop her athletics talent but chose to focus on golf.  Caitlyn has worn provincial colours for golf since the age of thirteen, she has played in the US Kids Championship for five years and has also  travelled to Jakarta with Women’s Golf South Africa amongst many other achievements.  We wish this delightful and talented young lady all the best with her golf career.

Champion Caitlyn Macnab – Serengeti GC, Ekurhuleni

Men’s B-Division

After his bright start, Johan Brand continued playing solid golf on day-2 and although Neil Webster stayed in contention for part of the round, he fell away over the back-9 to finish in second place.  A notable achievement in the Men’s B-Division was that of young Christopher Henry of The Lake Club Benoni whose 81 was an improvement of 7 shots over day-1 and he leap-frogged a number of players to finish a credible third-place.

Johan, who had sporting success as a Provincial Polo Cross player and received his SA Colours at under-16 level, started playing golf socially around ten years ago but only joined a golf club in 2015.  He wanted an official handicap and his then girlfriend, Ronelle – to whom he became married six months ago (congratulations Johan!!) – and new father-in-law were members at Wellington Golf Club so Johan became a member; and B-Division Club Champion!

Congratulations Johan and we wish you all the best with the development of your golf.

 

Champion Johan Brand – Wellington GC, Boland

Ladies’ Bronze Division

Four lady Champions dominated the Ladies’ Bronze Division and they all faired pretty well during the first round.  Things can change very quickly around Glendower, which is exactly what happened with the top-4 on the leader board all finding the going a lot more difficult in round 2.  For example, Jennifer Theron and Cinteche du Plessis made 12 and 10 points fewer respectively than they had on day-2 and this allowed Lenie to go ahead of them into 2nd place.

Antoinette also found the going tougher during the second round and made 13 points fewer than day-1.  Her fantastic score of 37 points made in round 1 however, meant that she managed to stay on top and ended up winning by 4 points.

Antoinette started playing golf about ten years ago and got her handicap down to a 15 before she took a two-year sabbatical from the game in order to study for a qualification in Pretoria.  This life-long resident of Polokwane and member at Kameeldoring Golf Club has had a lot going on in her life having opened her own Beauty Salon business in January and more recently getting married to Professional Rugby player Hennie de Vos in March – and now a National Champion!

Congratulations to Antoinette on all these achievements and the name Antoinette de Vos will be engraved on the floating trophy as the inaugural GolfRSA National Ladies’ Bronze Division Champion!

Champion Antoinette de Vos – Kameeldoring GC, Limpopo

Men’s C-Division

There were also big swings in the Men’s C-Division as Bokkie Greyling of Mooi Nooi in North West Province mounted a challenge during round 2 and rose up the leader board.  Tyron Rees, the overnight leader from Bryanston Country Club was slipping a little as he fought his way to 29 points.  This was eight points fewer than his first round but just sufficient to win by one from the fast-charging Bokkie Greyling and young Shane le Roux who both finished on 65 points.

Bryanston CC was the first club that Tyron joined, which he did eight years ago when he moved up from Cape Town and wanted to meet people and build a social life.  Tyron loves the challenge that golf presents and the opportunity to, as he says, “get away from it all” on the course.  Tyron is currently playing off his lowest ever handicap and has set specific improvement goals – which we won’t divulge – but following Arnie Geerdts’ talk on Tuesday, we look forward to hearing if you achieve the first goal by March 2018!

Champion Tyron Rees – Bryanston CC, Central Gauteng

The five National Divisional Champions received their trophies on Tuesday evening at the Champions’ Dinner; where the A-Division Champions were also advised that they will receive automatic entry into the SA Amateur Tournament as a result of their victory.  When Grant Hepburn announced this, Bertie Steenkamp was doubly delighted as it means: “It saves a long, long journey from Upington to anywhere to try and qualify!”.

Well done Bertie, Caitlyn, Johan, Antoinette and Tyron – Grant Hepburn and the GolfRSA Team is delighted to have you as the inaugural National Divisional Champions!

The Five GolfRSA Divisional Champions

L – R: Bertie Steenkamp; Caitlyn Macnab; Johan Brand; Antoinette Human (De Vos); Tyron Rees

 

 


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