Over 200 amateur golfers from around the world have come together in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal to battle it out in the world’s largest amateur golf tournament.
The 22nd World Amateur Golfers Championship saw players soaking up the excitement as an electrifying air of national pride filled the room at the official opening and flag-raising ceremony and a premier world-class gala dinner, held at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni Hotel.
PGA Master Professional and master of ceremonies for the 22nd World Amateur Golfers Championship, Dale Hayes, kickstarted proceedings by extending a warm and jovial welcome to all the players taking part and expressed the importance of upholding the spirit of camaraderie and sportsmanship projected by the late founder, Sven Tumba. Hayes also encouraged players to enjoy the unique opportunity of experiencing a ‘professional’ championship as an amateur, while enjoying the very best that Durban has to offer.
Toy Mzimela, director of World Golf Events South Africa was first up among the guest speakers. He identified how the Durban and KwaZulu-Natal leadership valued golf tourism and the huge return on investment it has provided for the province. Although the tournament was played in Turkey last year, when conditions required it to find a replacement host at short notice for 2016, KwaZulu-Natal stepped up and turned adversity into opportunity. He asked deputy director of Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nurdesh Maharaj, to convey thanks and gratitude to the province for past support. He concluded by confirming that there could be no better place to play golf other than in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
‘This year’s World Final is being played in KwaZulu-Natal for the fifth time and I can honestly say, every time I return to the beautiful city of Durban, I return to a place I can call home. However, as I return this year, my heart weighs heavy as we say goodbye to our dear friend Arnold Palmer, Patron and Honorary Chairman of the World Amateur Golfers Championship and in tribute to the ‘King’ may the best player win,’ said Nils Nordh, chairman and CEO of World Golfers Championship Ltd.
The tournament is being played on four of KwaZulu-Natal’s finest championship golf courses, namely Durban Country Club, and three newly introduced courses: Beachwood Country Club, Kloof Country Club (named by the Sunday Tribune as KZN’s best golf course in 2016) and Victoria Country Club. 27 countries in the Championship and 23 countries in the Invitational are competing over 72 holes in a medal-play format for the prestigious World Amateur Golfers Championship Team Trophy and Title. Golfers will also compete within their respective handicap groups, namely 0-5, 6-10, 11-15, 16-20 and 21-25, for the Individual Trophy and Title. The spirit and vision of the tournament is to expose amateur golfers to a ‘pro-like’ golfing experience while affording them the opportunity to form new friendships and business networks.