Cancelling the Nedbank Golf Challenge was heartbreaking, but it’s important that the event celebrates its 40th anniversary accordingly.
So far 2020 has been full of change and loaded with curveballs. It’s been a difficult task for the golfing world to adapt and adjust strategies to ensure safe playing can commence.
As a result, this year’s edition of the Nedbank Golf Challenge was already on the ropes the moment a new date was set for the Masters in November, which was moved to the same week as Africa’s Major.
Organisers decided it would be best to reschedule the NGC for December but, truth be told, it was always going to be difficult to stage the event in the current climate.
Last week, as I was covering the African Bank Sunshine Tour Championship at Glendower, internal discussions started to take place about how the Tour and organisers would be accommodating all the foreign players travelling to Sun City.
The NGC has become a major participant in the European Tour and with it being the penultimate event in the Race to Dubai, as well as forming part of the Rolex Series, it offers crucial ranking points for the players in their quest to be crowned Europe’s best a week later in Dubai.
Last year was the perfect example when Tommy Fleetwood stormed to victory, which moved him to the top of the Race to Dubai standings, only for Jon Rahm to win a few days later at the DP World Tour Championship.
The importance of the NGC – not only to us South Africans, but also the competitors on the European Tour – means that the competition should be completely safe and fully functioning if it were to go ahead.
The issue of the overseas players to make use of local South African caddies, while they all spend at least ten days in a bio-bubble, was set to be a logistical nightmare for everyone involved.
With a lot of uncertainty still surrounding the country’s general battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, from the start many players might have deemed it too big a risk to travel all the day down to South Africa to partake.
The NGC would have lost its prestigious touch should it have gone ahead as a compromised event, without spectators being able to enjoy the hype of some of the best golfers in the world competing on local territory.
For the past 40 years, Africa’s Major has been the spotlight of our ‘time to shine’ on the global stage and has provided South African and African golf with the opportunity to play with the big boys.
It is of the outmost importance that the 40th anniversary of the event receives the celebration it deserves without any restrictions in place.