More than R230 000 was raised when the Els for Autism golf day series visited the Jack Nicklaus-designed St Francis Links, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
The day was rescheduled from June due to poor weather, which helped a few lucky players – including a contingent all the way from Northern Ireland – to get themselves into contention for the first prize, which is a trip to Highland Gate for the final.
The weather played its part, and the 84 enthusiastic golfers made their way from the course to the clubhouse for a fun evening, with 20 more added for the dinner and auction. The man driving the golf day and the generous donations to Els’ cause, Nico van Rensburg, was there to share videos from The Big Easy and explain how autism affects one in 68 people worldwide.
It was at the prize-giving when friends Frank Capstick and Allen Carstens were crowned winners on the day, with 45 points – one more than former Eastern Province cricket star ‘Vlam’ Michau and his teammate, John Rielly.
For Capstick it was a win at his first attempt in this event. ‘I’ve never played in this series before, but I have been to St Francis Links many times and after seeing the ads for Ernie’s golf day I knew we had to sign up,’ he tells Compleat Golfer.
‘I love the course and I guess the day went as planned for Allen and I,’ said the 18-handicapper. ‘It sounds like a cliche, but it was a case of good teamwork. We’ve been playing together for something like 30 years and have won a few days here and there, but this is obviously our biggest achievement.
‘We started on the 9th and turned in 21 points, so we knew we were there or thereabouts after some nice pars and three-pointers.
‘Halfway through the back nine we thought we might be in the mix, but when we finished on 45 points, neither of us believed we’d done enough to actually win it. We were pleasantly surprised to hear our names called as champs.’
A few more glasses of Ernie Els wine after that? ‘Yes, we celebrated nicely. We had a driver, so that helped too.’
A trip to Highland Gate in November looms, but the duo won’t be doing anything differently in the build-up.
‘I usually try to get down to the putting green and work on my short game, so maybe I’ll do more of that, but otherwise, no, we won’t be changing our “winning formula”,’ Capstick adds with a laugh.
‘I admit I’ve been phoning some friends to get info on Highland Gate and they all say if we can do well at St Francis we should be fine in Dullstroom, which is a relief.’
Like many, Capstick and Carstens have admired Els for many years and will be looking to test themselves in the final, with a dream meeting with The Big Easy only 36 holes away.
– This article first appeared in the November issue of Compleat Golfer, now on sale!