Our playing editor says professional golfers don’t always process the hard work that goes into staging a tournament.
Recently, for the first time in a long while, I was dished a massive plate of perspective. This came to me when I played at the Jonsson Workwear Open in Durban.
When you’re a professional golfer you are spoilt; that’s not even open to debate. You play on the best courses which have been manicured to perfection before your arrival. Fairways that resemble carpets, fairway and greenside bunkers that couldn’t look or feel better and greens that have had hours of TLC.
What most of us don’t know, however – or perhaps ‘truly understand’ is the right way of saying it – is the work that goes into getting the course that way. You’ll often hear the tournament winner thank the greenkeeping staff, but that winner will never actually know how hard they have worked in the months leading up to the specific event.
With my parents being part of the Mount Edgecombe management team I got to see a detailed ‘behind the scenes’ of what goes into running a tournament. Was I shocked!
Mount Edgecombe Country Club’s main man is Larry Sogoni (right). He could possibly be the hardest-working individual I’ve ever come across. He’s at the course every day at 4am, cutting fairways, raking bunkers and watering his own Garden of Eden. He treats the course like his own family, every hole being one of his 18 children. The state of the course was exceptional, and when I told Larry that, he smiled from ear to ear, like a proud father on awards night.
The reviews of the course were fantastic. Even the members were glowing with pride in their course and how well it was playing. It’s definitely worth a visit whenever you find yourself up the KZN North Coast.
However, three of the four rounds of the Jonsson Workwear Open were played on South Africa’s ‘Old Lady’, Durban Country Club. The course needs no introduction as I’m sure almost every golf fanatic has made the trip to Durban for the sole purpose of taking a stroll along the historic 18 holes.
Durban Country Club’s struggles over the past few years have been well documented, but I won’t be addressing that. I’ll be telling you why I think it will be back at its sparkling best sooner rather than later.
The biggest reason for the club’s recovery is the members. Passionate members like Nic Jonsson, main sponsor of the Jonsson Workwear Open, are determined to see the Old Lady back at her best. You can see the pride on a Durban Country Club member’s face when they tell you they’re part of the club. That passion and pride can only do the place good.
Don Gammon and his team are also trying their best to get the course into pristine condition. You can see the passion for the game of golf in Don’s eyes, let alone his love for the Old Lady. His role is also important in getting her back to being the grandest of all.
At the welcome function on Tuesday evening before the tournament, Jonsson said, ‘Durban Country Club needs and deserves to have championships played on her layout.’ I couldn’t agree more. There’s something in the soil in that place that is unlike anything else in South Africa.
I’m seriously looking forward to playing there again sometime soon. Hopefully the South African Open will make a return to the KZN coast in the not too distant future. I really believe everyone can get behind that.
– This column first appeared in the April 2022 issue of Compleat Golfer magazine. Subscribe here!