Glendower Golf Club will play host to the prestigious 103rd South African Open Championship from 21-24 November, but before world number four Henrik Stenson will lead a world-class line-up into battle, the cream of the Sunshine Tour will use their chance to ‘test drive’ the classic layout in preparation for the world’s second oldest National Championship at this week’s BMG Classic.
The three recent champions at the Dowerglen course – Teboho Sefatsa (left), James Kamte and Brandon Pieters – believe they know what it will take to lift the SA Open title.
“It is not without reason that Glendower is rated as one of the country's best courses,” says Sefatsa, who used his home course advantage to lift the title last year and will take up his title defence from 18-21 October.
“The course does not favour the big-hitter or the deft short -game player. You need to bring an all-round game, and you need to play the course gracefully. As you work your way around the course, you'll find it tests your character, because it is challenging. It asks you questions all the time. It’s just that kind of course.”
The 30-year-old Germiston golfer will definitely be bidding for the big one this year.
“I can guarantee you that every player who tees it up in the BMG Classic this year, will have the SA Open at the back of his mind,” the 2012 Big Easy Tour Order of Merit winner says. “Whatever you can learn here, you can use during the SA Open.
"Glendower is a kind of rewards-driven course; you play badly and it punishes you, but if you play well you record low scores. Simply put, you need to hit straight and then follow up with quality shots."
Another playing looking to add his name to the likes of SA Open winners Gary Player, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Trevor Immelman, is Kamte
The Eastern Cape golfer chalked up his fourth Sunshine Tour win at the 2011 BMG Classic and he, too, knows the course like the back of his hand.
“I’ve been playing here at Glendower since I moved to Johannesburg more than a decade ago,” the 31-year-old says. “The key to a low score is hitting the ball straight and you need a game plan, because it gets pretty tough out there.
“I’ve heard that they will be narrowing the fairways for the SA Open, so it’s even more crucial to hit it straight. You’ll have your work cut out to reach the greens and then you will battle to read the lines.
“At this course, you don’t need a ‘wow’ game; you need to keep it straight and simple to do well.”
Ekurhuleni’s Pieters, who won the 2010 BMG Classic in a play-off, agrees and added that he believes the course is a great equaliser.
“Essentially you will give yourself a good chance of doing well if you strike the ball well,” says the 37-year-old Benoni golfer.
“You need to keep your game together from tee to green. It’s a classic course and you need to think about what you’re doing all the time. It will be hard work out there and the greens can be fast at times.
“The course won’t necessarily favour the long hitter although there are a few long holes that you could get by without a driver. I won’t be surprised if a short hitter is in the mix at the end of this year’s SA Open.”
The three Glendower champions have one last piece of advice for the more than 200 players who have already signed up for the 103rd SA Open: “Always make sure you have a plan B in your bag.”