By Michael Vlismas
De Wet Basson, the golfer once considered as talented as Ernie Els, makes his return to the Sunshine Tour fairways for the first time in 12 years this week in the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Langebaan Country Estate.
But he does so as a caddie for good friend Des Terblanche, with the R600,000 tournament set to tee off on Wednesday and finish on Friday.
“I’m really excited about it. I think it’s going to be great fun,” said Basson, whose last tournament as a professional was the 2001 Telkom PGA Championship at Woodhill Golf Estate.
Basson was a multiple winner on the Sunshine Tour and partnered Els in South Africa’s return to the World Cup of Golf in 1992. He played on the European Tour, enjoying his most successful season in 1993 when he finished 33rd on the Order of Merit, including tied 10th in the BMW PGA Championship that year.
But a loss of form saw him decide to retire from the game, and he opened up a vehicle dealership.
“I felt that if I couldn’t play to the same level as before then I’d better do as Ernie Els's grandmother once told him to do and get a real job. I just recently sold my shares in the motor dealership. I’m a member at Langebaan and have a house here, so I thought it would be great to caddie for Des,” said Basson.
It brings together two of what was South African golf’s most famous fourball of their era, namely Els, Basson, Terblanche and Nico van Rensburg.
“Des and I have played together since our junior days in 1983. And with Ernie and Nico, we had great fun on Tour. It’s a different game now. But the beauty of my journey in the game was meeting guys like Ernie, Nico and Des and making lifelong friends like that.”
Basson still plays off a scratch, leading Terblanche to add, “I think it’s one of those weeks when the caddie should rather play”.
Apart from his victories, Basson says one of his best memories was a practice round he played with Els, Van Rensburg and Terblanche before the Lexington PGA Championship at the Wanderers Golf Club one year.
“The first fairway at Wanderers is really tight. We all teed off, hitting it 330 plus, and when we got to the balls they were all in the middle of the fairway and grouped together within one metre of each other.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘It’s not going to get any better than this’. So we left and went and had a braai. It was a great braai, if I remember correctly.”