The Sunshine Tour will welcome the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Golf Tour to South African shores next week when the South to East Challenge, the first of a three-event safari co-sanctioned with the developmental Sunshine Big Easy Tour, is played at Zwartkop Golf Club in Centurion, Pretoria, from July 7-9.
Marking a significant step forward in giving flight to the careers of members of both tours, the trip to South Africa will see the players vie for honours with prize money — R500,000 for each event — counting towards the Orders of Merit of both.
Split equally between the two tours, the field for each event will showcase the top professionals and the leading amateurs on the MENA Tour’s Orders of Merit taking on their counterparts from the Sunshine Big Easy Tour in a chase for world ranking points.
The new partnership with the Big Easy Tour goes well beyond staging co-sanctioned tournaments as its knock-on effects will see the top five professionals on the MENA Golf Tour’s end-of-season Order of Merit earn playing privileges on the main South African circuit, the Sunshine Tour.
In addition, MENA Tour players ranked between six and 15 will be exempt into the final stage of the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School in a move aimed at creating meaningful playing opportunities for players knocking on the doors of stardom.
“Our new tie-up with South Africa is a great development for golf, one that will resonate on many levels, reinforcing the growing strength of the game in the MENA region,” said Mohamed Juma Buamaim, chairman of the MENA Golf Tour.
“The land of Gary Player and Ernie Els not only has a strong pedigree in golf, but it also boasts some of the best and most beautiful golf courses in the world. I am confident our members will have fun playing there alongside Big Easy Tour players.
“We are really delighted to be adding these three tournaments to the schedule which will provide further playing opportunities for our members,” he added.
Calling it a positive step forward, Grant Wilson, COO of the Sunshine Tour, said: “We look forward to working closely with the MENA Golf Tour to ensure the three-event series is successful.
“We are very excited with our association with the MENA Tour, which, I am confident, will benefit members of both the tours and help further stimulate the growth. It will be a great opportunity for us to promote our country across the globe and showcase our diverse and high quality courses.”