The Lion of Africa Insurance Cape Town Open – the first professional golfing event to be held in the city in over 10 years – tees off at the Royal Cape Golf Club on November 22 and will provide a platform for young, professional South African golfing talent to progress and develop their skills in order to compete on a global stage.
This is the view of Mike Green, Communications Manager of the Sunshine Tour, a men’s professional golf tour that takes place at different venues across the country throughout the year.
Green says that although the standard of professional South African golf is regarded as among the best in the world, the small number of players of half a million in the country means that opportunities for young golfing talent need to be encouraged.
“We need to continue identifying young golfing talent and giving them the opportunities to exercise their ability, as they may not otherwise have the opportunity to play. This professional tour is giving both rookies who are just starting out, and some of the bigger names who have the experience, an opportunity to progress and compete on the same level,” says Green.
The Lion of Africa Cape Town Open is a new annual professional golf tournament held at one of South Africa’s oldest golf clubs, the Royal Cape Golf Club. Although professional golf tournaments have been held in Cape Town, this is the first professional event held in the city in over 10 years.
Adam Samie, CEO of Lion of Africa Insurance, South Africa’s only Level 1 triple B-BBEE short-term insurer, says the significance of the event lies in its location.
“This high profile tournament will fast become a premier event on the local sporting calendar and will also serve to inspire future South African golfing talent.
As a leader in empowerment and transformation in the financial services sector, we are very pleased to be associated with the Cape Town Open and are proud to have been instrumental in getting top-class professional golf back to the city.”
As partner to the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open, the City of Cape Town’s Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, participated in the pro-am event earlier in the week in a show of support for the new event.
“As the City we are we are evaluating this event and we will maybe sign a three year contract with Lion of Africa so that we will begin to build it and make the Lion Of Africa Cape Town Open one of the calendar events, like the Jazz Festival, the Argus Cycle Tour and the Two Oceans Marathon,” said De Lille “We want this is another calendar item for the City of Cape Town.”
The Mayor is quite the golf enthusiast and had the following to say about her proficiency and practicing of the game.
“I play off a 19, and I’m almost a seasonal player. I play quite often during summer, but in winter there are these lapses in between. But I do it for fun, for the walking and just enjoying the fresh air. I spend a lot of time in air conditioned closed rooms and meetings, and this really stimulates me and helps me to relax,” added The Mayor.
Professional Hennie Otto, the South African Open Championship winner of 2011, also participated in the pro-am, and appeared in high spirits. “It’s nice to come back to Cape Town and play the old golf courses again,” he said.
Otto expressed the hope that the Cape Town Open would go some ways to reviving the professional golf scene in Cape Town. “It would be nice to have Cape Town as a venue for a big golf tournament again, and I think this event could make that happen.
I think people will come and enjoy it again, because there hasn’t been a tournament here for quite a few years,” he said.
As for the challenges of the course, the pro had the following to say: “The fairs are a bit narrow and if you are off the fairways some bits have sand, but with Cape Town, the deciding factor is always the wind. Cape Town brings a little breeze up and it just makes it a little bit more fun.”
The four-round tournament features a full field of 156 of the Sunshine Tour’s leading professionals. The total prize money on offer will be R2 million.
* Tickets, for just a R10 donation to charity per day, will be available at the Royal Cape gates. Pensioners and children under 16 will be admitted free.
Visit www.sunshinetour.com for more information.