by Silvana Rivella JOHANNESBURG. This year, the Golf European Tour will have more than 50% of its events outside of Europe. Most people within golf agree that no one wants the ET to start in Europe at the beginning of the year where weather conditions are generally poor at best. Moreover, in February and at the beginning of March the ‘Beast from the East’, a Siberian blast set record low temperatures across much of Europe, blanketing several Southern towns with first snowfall in years. Instead, by starting the tour in South Africa, the ET is able to link up with the Sunshine Tour’s bigger events in the middle of the South African Summer from January to the end of March, presenting xxx events. The Joburg Open from 7th to 10th December 2017 was held in Randpark GC, and the winner was S.Sharma from India. The BMW South African Open that has been played at Glendower GC from January 11th to 14th was won by Chris Paisley from England. The BMW South African Open is the world’s second-oldest national Open after The Open Championship. In fact, the tournament begun over 120 years ago in 1893, 33 years after the first ever US Open Championship. Last year Rory McIlroy made good on his promise to Ernie Els. The Big Easy extracted the commitment when the South African played in the 2014 Irish Open, which is hosted by McIlroy’s Foundation. Els said that “His presence helped the growth of the SA Open which has been doing so well over the last few years.” BMW has also extended its sponsorship of the tournament for a further two years. The Eye of Africa PGA Championship took place from February 8th to 11th in the Eye of Africa Signature Golf Estate and was won by Matias Calderon from Chile. The Estate’s owner, the Irish David Nagle, has also extended its sponsorship of the tournament for a further three years. The Dimension Data Pro-Am was a very challenging event that was played from February 15th to 18th on three different courses at Fancourt GC . The winner was the South African Jaco Alhers, who scored 20 under. On February 22th -25th the winner of the Cape Town Open played at the Royal Cape GC was R. Enoch from Wales. The Summer Season ended with the Tshwane Open Tournament, which was played in the South African capital, Pretoria, in the historic Pretoria GC, from the 1st to the 4th March 2018. The winner was the South African golf champion George Coetzee. Actually, there is a significant change in the number of regular South African winners, and this can only be down to the regularity of tournaments held there. For the game to advance, by regularly visiting places like China, South East Asia and the Middle East can only help develop and encourage the game there, meaning the ET could almost self propagate both developmentally and commercially. Moreover, the Nedbank Golf Challenge was the first under the tournament’s new status as part of the European Tour’s elite Final Series in the Race to Dubai. The name of the event, the ‘Dubai World Tour Championship’ and even the term ‘The Race To Dubai’, epitomises the gravitational pull the European Tour is experiencing right now – both geographically and financially. In fact, the continued momentum of the ET season shift towards the Middle and Far East is accelerating. The reasons for this are four-fold; persistent economic conditions, practicality of scheduling, commercial globalisation. As the ET moves to Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, the Desert Swing begins with a series of events that has become increasingly lucrative where sponsors can offer additional inducements to attract participation from the worlds very best. The European Tour is a tremendous product for someone looking to spend his sponsorship dollars. For the European companies, it makes perfect sense to shun an economically depressed Europe in favour of more buoyant opportunities in China and Asia where the consumer markets are still growing as well. However, the mid-term future of the ET looks pretty secure. The stretching of the ET around the globe has not adversely affected European golfers; there are now 23 Europeans or ET players in the Top 50 of the Official World Rankings. So being more international rather than Euro-centric has not diluted talent from Europe!
Shifting gears but staying none less in South Africa, we record that “The Sports Trust Golf Challenge” sponsored by Nedbank and Sun International raises funds to nurture golf development and disabled golfing talent in South Africa’s under-resourced communities through the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB) and the SADGA respectively. Since its inception in 1999, the SAGDB has coached and assisted over 50 000 golfers through its programmes for golfing talent in South Africa’s under-resourced communities. Each year the SAGDB extends its reach to additional South African communities. Currently, it has 2 000 development golfers on its programmes, ranging in age from 8 to 21 years.
Also, how can we forget to recall that beautiful South Africa is incidentally home to princess Charlene of Monaco?….Royal ladies often do loads of office work that usually center around charities, and Charlene is no different than any of them. In fact, in 2012 she founded The Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation. The aim of the Foundation is to use sport, especially rugby and swimming, as a medium for education. Although the Princess Charlene Foundation focus its efforts on safety in the water safety, its support provides to young, promising sports players as well as sports projects as part of children’s education. In fact, a specific program “Sport & Education, to build on the values of sport” has been set up.