Our Sunshine Tour scribe Ryan Cairns takes you on his road trip, this time to Nkana Golf Club and Lusaka Golf Club.
After narrowly surviving the cut at Nkana Golf Club and clicking into fifth gear over the weekend around Lusaka Golf Club for a top-10 finish, it was on to our next stop on the schedule.
The Royal Swazi Sun Hotel and Casino was host to Investec and the Sunshine Tour for the Investec Royal Swazi Open. It’s an event which is edging close to its 40th edition on Tour and has always been a player favourite. Even the likes of Tom Lehman, Gary Player and John Daly have teed up at the tournament.
The format is a modified points system whereby the professionals are allocated an amateur threeball made up of top Investec clients and executives each day. The two formats run alongside one another, as the pros play a 72-hole championship event, while the VIPs have their own modified betterball-Stableford format, partnered by a different Sunshine Tour pro each day. It goes without saying that multiple ‘dogs’ for best team, individual scores and units heat up the constant banter well into each evening too.
Like most weeks on the road, myself and Madalitso Muthiya were roommates for the five-night stay and were greeted by some amazingly friendly staff at Lugogo Sun.
One of our standing jokes whenever we check into a new hotel, is to argue in front of the receptionists about which of us is the ‘Tour Wife’. I’m sorry I ever thought that up now, though, as these days he catches me off guard with that gag almost every time. I was still scratching around in the bag for my passport seconds before the shot was fired. Needless to say, it was greeted by laughter from the reception staff, as he casually glided his passport over the countertop. Well played Maddy.
With two points for a birdie, five for an eagle, eight for an albatross, zero for a par, minus one for a bogey and minus three for a double (or worse), it is safe to say this format was designed for the risk-takers. The working example I’ve always used to describe the format is: ‘Player A’ makes 16 pars and two birdies, for a total of four points. Whereas ‘Player B’ makes nine birdies and nine bogeys, to shoot level par and yet earn himself nine points, despite having hit the ball more times than ‘Player A’. Combine this with a layout like Royal Swazi and you have one awesome week of golf.
Despite a seven-under-par 65 in the third round, my total points fell short of the mark after four days, as I finished in 35th place on 30 points (and nine under par, for those of you still attempting the maths). The runaway victor by 12 points was first-time winner Martin Rohwer from Durban, on a total of 59 points
(23 under par). In short, he killed it.
The Sunshine Ladies Tour players are a welcome addition to the tournament and have their own event that week too, which was won by the ever-rising superstar Nobuhle Dlamini. I was fortunate enough to play a practice round with Nobuhle at Fancourt before the Di-Data Pro Am a few weeks ago and can vouch for this incredible woman as a player and human being. The only way for her is up.
Next up for us are two wedding weeks, celebrating our nearest and dearest, before a trip to Mauritius with ‘Matko’ for his annual event, The Designer Cup. Hosted across two of his newest layouts, Mont Choisy and Avalon, over seven days with cocktail events each evening, it promises to be a week to remember.
The group will also be wrapping up the design and shaping of (another) new course on the island and then it’s back to Nairobi in June for the KCB Masters.
Pics and videos to follow on Instagram @Cairnzy.Golf.
Hope to see a few of you next year at Designer Cup 2020!
– Ryan Cairns is a Sunshine Tour winner, a co-owner of The Pro Shop Zimbabwe and works for the Matkovich Group.