Stellenbosch Golf Club played host to the start of another exciting year for the Els for Autism golf series, writes WADE PRETORIUS.
It’s never too early for a game of golf and so it proved when as many as 130 golfers filtered through the clubhouse at Stellenbosch Golf Club, a recent Sunshine Tour venue, on a sweltering summer’s day in December to kickstart the new race to the Lost City.
‘What could be more special than playing our part in helping those in need through the game of golf,’ said the club’s director of golf, Louis Destroo.
‘You know this a tremendous outing when 130 golfers come out to play. Sure, they have a chance of moving on to the final but this day is about far more than that. The spirit in which the whole golf series is conducted makes it one of the must-play events on the calendar.’
Among the large contingent of players was legendary Proteas cricketer Jacques Kallis. Before taking up the role of batting consultant for the national team he had worked his handicap out into plus and recently scored a hole-in-one on a par four. He easily saw off the threat of recently retired World Cup winner Schalk Brits, a low single-figure handicapper, and another former Springbok in Werner Greeff.
It must be said that the Team Compleat golfers never troubled the scorers as they found the greens a little too quick and complex on the day. Put it down to too much time in the office and not enough
on the course.
Like Kallis, who fired a round of 74, the winners Gerrit Kuhn and Braam Mong also played some breathtaking golf to edge out Bertus Kriel and Johan Hugo, who were equally impressive on the day. It’s not often that 47 betterball Stableford points don’t earn you first place.
‘Ernie has played such a tremendous role in making this great game so popular throughout southern Africa with his smooth swing and ability to win big time,’ said Destroo. ‘Now he’s taken on the fight
of helping families who have children living with autism here and in the US.
‘Looking at the faces after the golf, we were only too proud to hear the feedback from the field and sponsors who all had a great day of laughs and golf on our course. It was a fine day out and the scores were just as good.
‘Stellenbosch GC remains humbled to be one of the select venues for the series and, of course, we have close
ties with Ernie Els Wines. We can’t wait to welcome the 2020 series back again in September and are only too happy to move the prizegiving to the renovated winery for what promises to be a special lunchtime atmosphere.’
The next event will be held in February at St Francis Links where industry leader Jeff Clause hosts the day at the tough Jack Nicklaus design known for punishing wayward drives. Last year saw the sleepy holiday town of St Francis Bay make waves in the series by raising the highest amount at the auction dinner.
Each year the bar has been raised higher and after the excellent start in the baking sun of Stellenbosch, 2020 promises to be bigger and better than ever. And don’t forget, there’s that second stop at Stellenbosch Golf Club to look forward to.