On the 1st tee at this year’s Nedbank Golf Challenge will be two icons of this tournament – Gary Player and the famous crystal trophy awarded to the winner of ‘Africa’s Major’.
Both were there when this tournament first teed off in 1981. Player has shaken the hands of the greatest in golf to play in this event, and the trophy bears their names.
“When I think about the beautiful crystal trophy, I think of what Lee Trevino once said about the Gary Player Country Club course,” said Player. “He told me we got the design of the golf course right the first time. I feel the same about the trophy. The design was perfect from the start, and it is a wonderful representation and record of the great history of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.”
The Nedbank Golf Challenge’s crystal trophy can trace its roots back to an Irish city founded by Vikings and to a company with a history of over 200 years in the art of glassmaking for royalty and some of the world’s greatest sport events.
It was in 1981 that Sam Feldman, the charismatic sports promoter who was part of the early team behind the launch of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, placed a phone call to Waterford Crystal in the city of Waterford in Ireland for the purpose of designing a trophy for a new golf tournament at Sun City.
But not just any trophy.
As Feldman explained over the phone, “We are hosting the richest tournament in world golf. We need a trophy just as special”.
That was how the crystal trophy of ‘Africa’s Major’ came into existence.
Feldman’s idea for the design was that it should be a golf ball and that the stem of the trophy should represent a tee in the ground upon which the ball rests.
“Every time a player lifts it up I feel for him, because I know how heavy that trophy is,” said Feldman.
The winner of the Nedbank Golf Challenge also receives a smaller replica of the trophy to keep.
The original design of the trophy was so accurate and timeless that it has hardly changed at all over the years.
The only change to the original trophy is to its base. There was an inconsistency as a result of the different inscribers of the champions’ names over the years, and it was decided to replace the base and have one inscriber redo all of the names.
The 2023 Nedbank Golf Challenge will once again be included on the DP World Tour schedule in partnership with Nedbank and Sun International and will be the penultimate event before the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
This year’s field already includes defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, Major champions Justin Thomas and Justin Rose, and Sunshine Tour Order of Merit winner and DP World Tour champion Ockie Strydom.