The South African Open Championship will move back to Gauteng for the first time in over a decade with the announcement that the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate will host the championship in 2011.
The announcement was made at the official launch of this yearÂs championship at Serengeti on Wednesday 29 June.
Ernie Els has also confirmed that he will defend his title at this yearÂs championship, which will be played from 24-27 November.
ÂAfter the 100th playing of the South African Open last year, there is definitely a feeling that we have entered a new era in this championshipÂs illustrious history,Â said Colin Burger, the President of the South African Golf Association (SAGA), who are the custodians of the SA Open.
ÂThe SA Open forms part of the foundation of South African golf, and it is important that all South Africans are given an opportunity to share in its glory and history. So following an extended run, since 2001, at some of our finest coastal golf courses, we are delighted to see it return to Gauteng.Â
This marks the first time that the national Open returns to Gauteng since it was played at Randpark Golf Club in 2000, and is the first major golf tournament to be hosted in the municipality of Ekurhuleni.
ÂThe hosting of the SA Open Championship in Ekurhuleni gives me immense pleasure in that it confirms our capability as a metro to play host to major international events. The professional golfers taking part in the tournament will have the opportunity to explore the best that we have to offer,Â said Mayor Mondli Gungubele, who attended the launch.
ÂOur hosting of the SA Open is in line with our triangular vision for sport, with mass participation at the base and elite championship sport at the apex. The SA Open sits at the apex of this triangle, as one of the worldÂs most prestigious tournaments for professional golfers. By hosting the SA Open we are marking the beginning of great things to come, as we position ourselves as an aerotropolis and gateway to Africa and the world. All we can say for now is Âwatch this spaceÂ.Â
At the launch, the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation also confirmed its support of the South African Open, saying the tournament had a role to play in the governmentÂs new National Sport and Recreation Plan.
ÂEvents such as the South African Open are part of the process of creating a vibrant sport system that encourages growth and development, and supports South Africans to be world-beaters,Â said MEC, Lebogang Maile.
ÂWe need to maximise the social and economic benefits that sport has for the people of South Africa. This tournament brings with it the aspirational impact of encouraging our youth to participate in sport, particularly golf, while it also brings vital job creation in the sport and recreation sector.Â
The return of Els in defence of his title confirms the status of the SA Open as not only the flagship tournament in South African golf, but also as one of the highlights of the international golf calendar.
ÂWe are delighted to have Ernie confirm his place in the field, and we look forward to some of the worldÂs leading golfers joining him at Serengeti, which is a magnificent venue for our national Open,Â said Selwyn Nathan, Executive Director of the Sunshine Tour.
ÂSouth African golf is in the midst of a golden era on the global stage, and the South African Open will once again serve as a wonderful opportunity to showcase this success worldwide.Â
This will be the first major tournament hosted by Serengeti, with the Jack Nicklaus Signature course sure to make as much of an impression on the professionals as it has on the South African golf landscape.
ÂIt is an incredible honour for us to mark our first hosting of a major professional tournament with the South African Open. There is so much history and tradition in this tournament, and we are proud to follow a long list of some of South AfricaÂs finest golf courses in being the host. It has always been our vision to stage a tournament of this stature and the golf course was designed with the spectator in mind. It came earlier than anticipated, but we are delighted. Jack Nicklaus set a benchmark in the game of golf during his playing career, and we believe that Serengeti will also set a new standard in terms of hosting the SA Open,Â said Serengeti CEO and developer, Leon van der Vyver.