By Michael Vlismas
It’s not quite the Champions Dinner of the Masters, but Heinrich Bruiners’s right to choose the menu for the next Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament after his recent victory is a privilege that means the world to him.
The George professional is playing in this week’s Vodacom Origins event at the Langebaan Country Estate having claimed his maiden Sunshine Tour victory in the third tournament of the 2013 series earlier this month. One of the privileges on the series is the champion choosing the opening night dinner menu for the next event.
Bruiners spent most of 2010 recovering from a car accident and has had to work his way back onto the Tour through torturous pre-qualifiers that are far from the perceived glamorous life of the touring professional.
“It’s been a long road. I was off for about a year because of injury. The one person I wish could’ve been there for my maiden win was my father. During my injury he was the only one who really believed in me,” says Bruiners.
A golfer forced to pre-qualify on the Sunshine Tour is under incredible pressure, beginning with the travel and accommodation costs associated with getting to a tournament, then joining anywhere between 40 and 100 golfers battling for 10 spots into the main field of a tournament. If he makes it into that field, he has to add another two days of costs before he’s even made a single cent back. And if he doesn’t make the cut, he won’t see a single cent.
“There’s so much pressure in the pre-qualifiers because every golfer is going for every flag. You can’t play safe on the difficult holes to protect your score. You have to go for everything. And if you don’t make it, it’s back home for you,” says Bruiners.
So the victory and resultant exemption that comes with it is priceless for a player.
“For example, this week I went to the beach in Langebaan one afternoon before the tournament. I can now plan my schedule, and I’ve decided that because we travel all over South Africa I’m going to make a little holiday of each event.”
Bruiners is working with former European Tour campaigner Roger Wessels, and puts in the effort associated with success in the pro ranks.
“When I’m not playing tournaments, then Monday to Friday I work on my game. On certain days I do drills from 8am to 3pm. I’ll probably hit about 1,400 balls a day. I’d do that for two days out of the five, and on other days I’ll play. Then on the weekend I take it easy.”
Bruiners decided on a braai for his opening night menu of this week’s Vodacom Origins event. Not a glamorous meal by any stretch. But it felt like a feast for the man who selected it.