A bit of rain at Oubaai did little to dampen the spirits of 76 players attempting to qualify for the finals at The Lost City, writes WADE PRETORIUS in Compleat Golfer.
‘It never rains on a golf course’ … or that’s what golfers say.
A dry but gloomy morning welcomed the field at the Oubaai leg of the Els for Autism golf series with organiser Nico van Rensburg proclaiming it to be a perfectly balmy morning … for Scottish conditions. As the golfers made their way to the obligatory pre-round drone photo, there was a sombre pause as they remembered Dan Sevel, an influential golfing figure and friend of the series, who passed away recently.
When the players headed to the course, under the guidance of director of golf Rob Thole and armed with shiny new Srixon golf balls, spirits were high.
It’s only fitting that the Els for Autism series returned to Oubaai after a year’s absence due to scheduling issues. The course, designed by Ernie Els and using his experience gained around the world, is becoming the spectacle of old as the club continues to consistently do the small things right while working tirelessly on the medium- to long-term goals.
The attention to detail by Thole and his team did not go unnoticed, with a large amount of manicuring around the entire course ensuring a good flow between fairway, first cut and then the nasty, fescue-like rough. Hit it in there and no matter how good your spotter is, you might be stretching for another one of those new Srixons.
After just a few holes, the downpour had some golfers running for cover but most of the field stuck it out and were treated to a back nine in late-afternoon sun. Just another typical Southern Cape day.
And for the winners? Messrs Rossouw and Van Niekerk’s 45 points were enough to see off a host of teams within one or two points. The prize is a trip to The Lost City, possibly a place at the Nedbank Golf Challenge Pro-Am and almost certainly an audience with The Big Easy. For those in action at Oubaai, there were plenty of smiles and cheers for Neels Els, who played his way into a top-10 finish. It’s not difficult to figure out where Ernie’s passion for golf was cultivated.
As for the ‘losers’, there were none because, as you know, it never rains on a golf course. The field enjoyed a post-round warm-up in the scenic 19th hole at Oubaai before moving to the hotel for the prize giving, which included a hearty meal and a sampling of some fine Ernie Els wines.
The dinner auction, which saw Els and fellow top-performing South African Branden Grace memorabilia up for grabs, was another success with golfers putting their money where their fun was to help raise some funds for the cause.
While the winners are off to the finals, many left Oubaai with golfing memories of a round played in rain and shine, mostly with broad smiles and bellylaughs.
– This article first appeared in the September issue of Compleat Golfer, now on sale!