One of the biggest adjustments for an American living in Cape Town is the weather. At this time of year in Connecticut, the leaves turn orange and red, littering the ground as the temperature drops to sweater weather.
By December in Chicago, lake-effect snow flurries fall, and the ice rinks pack with skaters. In Cape Town, people are switching from sweaters to shorts, t-shirts and sun dresses. In the sports world, this change of seasons means South Africa switches from rugby to cricket, two sports that are not very popular in the states.
Where I’m from, we drop baseball and soccer, continue with American football and hockey, and add basketball. As an avid basketball fan, this meant nothing as a player. Basketball season is in the winter, but no baller stops playing at any point in the year, and the best basketball tournaments happen in the summer, including pro-am tournaments like the Entertainers Baller Classic, the Drew League, and the Nike Chi-League where the best basketball players in the world compete. I played in Bridgeport’s Rest in Peace Tournament myself in the summer. In the winter, we just wear our basketball shorts and t-shirts under our hoodies and sweatpants and trade concrete courts for the wooden floors inside.
With all of our differences, golf is one sport that both nations have in common because neither country starts or stops playing due to seasonal changes. The Nedbank Golf Challenge starts on November 10, hosted by Gary Player, a South African legend. On November 14, the PGA Tour will hold the RSM Classic at Sea Island Golf Club on the southern tip of St. Simons Island, Georgia in the deep south United States. After that, the tour will hold tournaments in warm states such as California, Hawaii, Florida, Texas, and Arizona. A northern state won’t get a tournament until May 29th in Dublin, Ohio with the Memorial Tournament.
There’s a reason for this. While South Africa heats up, the northern United States turns frigid come December, January, and February. The John Deere Classic will be held in Illinois, a state where the windchill can go as low as -40 degrees Celsius during the winter. That’s not exactly golfing weather, so the tournament is scheduled for July in the middle of the American summer. Whereas Hawaii’s average temperature in January, when it will host the Tournament of Champions and Sony Open back-to-back, ranges from 20 degrees to 26 degrees Celsius. That is golfing weather, and it mirrors the average temperature in South Africa around the time of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
It’s said that sports brings people together. Golf does that for the US and South Africa, no matter the season as long as it’s warm enough to play.
The seven-hour time zone difference is another conversation.