Sunshine Tour returns with new Rise-Up SeriesProfessional golf is back on South African fairways, with the Sunshine Tour set to resume its schedule this August with a new Gauteng swing of five tournaments that will be known as the Rise-Up Series. The Rise-Up Series will feature five 54-hole tournaments each with a purse of R600 000 and with a full field of professionals, but played according to the COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Strategy submitted by GolfRSA and approved by the Departmernt of Sport. The final round of each tournament will be streamed live on the Sunshine Tour streaming platforms and DStv Now. The Rise-Up Series will tee off at Killarney Country Club with the first event from 19-21 August. It will then travel to Glendower Golf Club from 26-28 August, followed by Pretoria Country Club from 2-4 September, ERPM Golf Club from 23-25 September, and Huddle Park Golf Club from 30 September to 2 October. “We are delighted to be able to announce our return to tournament golf with the new Rise-Up Series and extremely grateful to Betway and African Bank who will be sponsors on the series and whose immediate support has helped us to develop this series,” said Sunshine Tour Commissioner, Selwyn Nathan. “It has been a long wait for our member professionals and our sponsors, and we thank them for their patience and understanding. Ever since we suspended our activities in March this year, we remained resolute that we would not resume playing until we had the necessary confirmation from government and had consulted thoroughly with our sponsors. That is why we are only now announcing this resumption of our schedule as we are confident that under the current government lockdown Alert Level 3 and with our planning in place, we can resume tournament activity in a safe, responsible and controllable manner.” The Sunshine Tour has worked closely with GolfRSA and its official Risk Mitigation Strategies in order to meet the full compliance necessary for the resumption of its tournaments. Only professional golfers and their registered caddies, as well as Sunshine Tour staff and officials and limited media and TV crew will be allowed on-site at each tournament. The professionals and their caddies as well as tournament staff will be screened prior to the start of the Rise-Up Series, and monitored and tracked with the use of the official HealthDocs platform. There will also be daily screening and processing of all persons entering the tournament venues. No spectators or player support staff will be allowed at the tournaments. There will also be no hospitality facilities for the professional golfers and their caddies. “Our main focus is to ensure that none of our member professionals or staff is in any way compromised from a health standpoint. We are confident we have taken every possible step to make this not only a safe return to professional golf, but also a welcome one with a Rise-Up Series that will reflect the role our game plays in representing the spirit of sport and its ability to help uplift society in challenging times,” said Nathan. Rise-Up Series Tournament Schedule 19-21 August: Rise-Up Series Event 1 Betway Championship at Killarney Country Club 26-28 August: Rise-Up Series Event 2 sponsored by African Bank at Glendower Golf Club 2-4 September: Rise-Up Series Event 3 at Pretoria Country Club 23-25 September: Rise-Up Series Event 4 at ERPM Golf Club 30 September – 2 October: Rise-Up Series Event 5 at Huddle Park Golf Club
In Focus: Michael PalmerFor many professional and aspiring professional golfers, competing on the biggest Tours and in the biggest tournaments in the world is a long-held dream, and when opportunities to explore such dreams come along, the natural instinct is to “grab the bull by the horns”, as the old adage goes. But not all that glitters is gold. Five years ago, a 26-year old Michael Palmer was one of the hottest players on the Big Easy Tour, notching up a fourth spot finish in the Order of Merit in a season whose highlights included two runners-up finishes, three top-fives and three top-10s. Having turned professional in that very season and with the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School beckoning, Palmer had one idea in his head. “I played really well in 2015, arguably some of the best golf in my career,” he says from his home in Johannesburg. “Between the IGT Tour and the Big Easy Tour. I gained a lot of confidence that I would be able to compete on the Sunshine Tour. I actually managed to get my European Tour Challenge Tour card at the end of 2015. That was a huge achievement for me because I started to believe that I could possibly compete on tours around the world, never-mind just the Sunshine Tour.” And, so he went! A host of new challenges lay ahead as he set his sights on transferring his now-oozing confidence to an international stage, and possibly making a success of himself on the European Challenge Tour – with whom we now co-sanction three tournaments. “My form dropped,” he says of his immediate challenge in Europe. “And my lack of experience was evident in the situation.” He had made only four cuts all season long and for a player who now knew he could compete against the best of them, these were tough times. “The 2016 season on the Challenge Tour was an eye-opener for me. It showed me the extent of travel that is involved. Spending months away from home and adapting to new countries, and conditions. It was a great learning experience for me. You learn a lot about yourself travelling alone and being exposed to those challenges.” Ever so strong through adversity and trying times, Palmer still had an ace in his hand: despite what he admits to being a miserable season abroad, he still had his Sunshine Tour status back home. “I managed to salvage what was left of my Sunshine Tour season,” he says with aid of hindsight. “I was disappointed with my efforts in Europe and felt despondent about my future as an international competitor. Since I flew back home from Europe, it took me almost two years to get my game to a place where I could play with freedom and confidence again.” Those two years was the same 2016 and the 2017 season when he finished 86th on the Order of Merit. “A natural reaction to any kind of adversity is to try harder and attempt to fix the issues,” Palmer says of his next move from a place he’d found himself in. “I went "searching". Searching for the answers in my swing, in my routines, in my equipment, anything that I could use as the "thing" to get my game back.” His results in the first seven events of the 2018/19 season didn’t offer much hope as he missed every cut but then, boom! His breakthrough victory in the KCB Karen Masters in Nairobi in July of 2018 and then everything seemed to fall in its right place. The win was followed by a second-place finish in the Royal Swazi Spa Challenge and a fifth-spot in the Sun Carnival City Challenge the next month. Three more top-10s – eighth in the Zanaco Masters of 2019, fifth in the Royal Swazi Spa Challenge and third in the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Sishen and while he could not defend the title, his 15th place finish at the KCB Karen Masters formed part of the season’s highlights. “I played some of my most consistent golf of my career leading up to the season, and fortunately, that form continued onto the next season,” Palmer notes. “I think the most important factors in the success of the 2018/19 season was the growth and building that was done leading up to the season. For two years I improved my swing, mental approach, expectations and that all added up to small incremental improvements that gave me the confidence I needed to play better golf. “I felt that I was heading for another high finish on the order of merit in 2019. I had a busy schedule towards the middle of the year. I decided to pursue sponsorship opportunities in the states, I competed in the Alfred Dunhill Links in Scotland, played in the Durban stretch in SA, attempted to qualify for my card at the European Q-School in Spain, rushed back for the Alfred Dunhill at Leopard Creek, and finally playing in Mauritius to cap off a stretch of miserable golf and nothing to show for my efforts to compete on tours around the world – my head was fried! “Golf is a fickle game, one moment you are seeking new avenues to further your career and the next you are tumbling down a negative spiral of disappointment. I got ahead of myself and very quickly I learned you cannot take any achievements in this game for granted.” Through all that, and even against a season of two-halves such as the one he had before golf was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Palmer yearns for one thing. “I love competing and the rush of being in contention down the stretch of the final round is addictive,” he states. “Especially when the outcome would mean a drastic change to your career. Everyone on the Sunshine Tour is able to win an event. We have world-class players on our tour and it makes it so difficult to be consistently successful. Even with the "winners' mentality, you have to get lucky and hopefully the week your game decides to come together is the week you get the good bounces.” He is home nursing an injury to his arm right now but he will hope the return of professional tournaments will coincide with his own recovery, and just maybe he might just get the bounces once more. Moreover, up to this point, returning back home was not such a bad idea after all.
In Focus: Daniel GreeneSometimes the toughest decisions we have to make are the ones that yield the best results. This year marks a decade since Daniel Greene turned pro and while a win remains elusive for the KwaZulu Natal player, his time on Tour has not been a waste of his time and resources. With 23 tournament starts to his name in his rookie season back in 2010, Greene made the cut 11 times en route to a 39th place finish in that season’s Order of Merit which Charl Schwartzel won by landslide. The following seasons were so poor, by his own admission and standards, that the time to make that tough decision came to him at once. “I think the first year was good,” he says, thoughtfully trying to lay down what he thinks of his decade as a Sunshine Tour professional. “and then, the next five years, I think, weren’t so great. I went through a few things; swing changes. So, I would say the first year was great, and the next five, not so great. And then, the last three or four years have not been too bad, considering how much golf I play.” Indeed, he has not played a lot of golf in a season in the past three to four years. For that matter, the last time he clocked 20 tournaments in a single season was back in 2014, when he played 20. The previous three season’s, he’d taken part in 23, 22 and 23 events, respectively. Why, though, when his rookie season seemed to have gone well? “I work in the winter, selling maize seeds,” he reveals, “I try to play the summer events and the first few tournaments of the season. As I said, the season’s that weren’t so great, I had to make a decision and it helps to have a different stream of income. It also helps when playing in the bigger tournaments and not feeling the pressure of having to play for an income.” The decision to play fewer tournaments as a young and ambitious professional should be a difficult one to make, regardless of how badly you may think you perform, and for Greene who had been a sportsman his entire life – having played rugby, soccer, polo, hockey and all other kinds of ball games – to make that call must have been gutting. “It was difficult then to make the call to play only a few months of the year,” he admits, while also noting “but if I had known then what I know now, I would have made the decision sooner.” What changed in that space of time that Greene feels he can look back at that decision to split his year between working and playing golf and be proud of himself? Well, he played better and the results improved immensely, even with the few events he played in the four years of work and golf that followed. Highlights of his 2010 campaign were a runner-up finish in a Vodacom Business event at Humewood and an even more impressive third-place finish at that season’s Dimension Data Pro-Am. The next seven years yielded one top-10 finish each and those included a statement-making eighth-place in the Joburg Open, in December of 2017. This was at the back of a 2016 season in which he had finished 53rd on the Order of Merit. Greene rocked up for the 2018 Eye of Africa PGA Championship with some confidence, and why wouldn’t he; he’d just finished top 10 in a co-sanctioned event (Joburg Open) which earned him his biggest pay cheque to date. A seventh-place finish there and two more top 10s in August and September and to return for the co-sanctioned events. In 2019 too, he was impressive at Eye of Africa finishing in 3rd place, a 15th spot at the RAM Cape Town Open and the Serengeti Tour Championship in February and March, respectively underpinned another solid finish to the season with few events played. Since 2015 when Greene finished 76th on the Order of Merit and in what was the last of the seasons he’d finish outside of the top 60 players on Tour, and while working full time (well, at least until the winter is over) he has been a very steady player and always in and around the top 30 position on the money list. He played 14 tournaments last season and finished 32nd on the money list. The year before that he’d played 17 events and finished 31st on the Order of Merit while he finished in the same position the previous season, with only nine starts to his name. “If I’d known then (when he was struggling on Tour) that finding work in the winter would change my game and the way I see the game the way it has, I would have made the decision earlier,” Greene says. Steady as his results have been, thanks to his scheduling and playing fewer tournaments, however, as a competitor and professional, Greene knows that they still haven’t brought home that elusive victory he’s been looking for. He came close in the King’s Cup last season but finished runner-up to Jaco Ahlers. “I don’t lose sleep over it though,” he says while admitting that he has not given up on winning. “I would say I’ve had quite a few chances to win and I haven’t taken those opportunities yet but that’s golf. I think every professional golfer wants to win so I know my time will come.” A few fun rounds with mates in the winter and a focussed practice regime for summer events which takes up to four hours a day and sometimes for up to six weeks, depending on the available time, is all Greene has in the way of getting ready for tournaments but he doesn’t regret his decision one bit. “I tell some of the guys on Tour that if you can, find yourself some work in the winter but I don’t think it’s that easy to find work where you can just leave for golf and only work for four months of the year. But if I had known what taking a break from golf and going to work and coming back fresh would do for my golf, I certainly would have done it earlier. For me, I feel like the pressure is less when you know you’ve got another stream of income somewhere else.”
Meticulous Frittelli eyes major successWhen good preparation meets opportunity, success is imminent, so goes an old saying. Sunshine Tour player, now plying his trade on the PGA Tour in the United States, Dylan Frittelli, knows more about this than, perhaps, most of us. A meticulous planner with attention to every detail of his game, Frittelli has always been a sportsman. As a child, he played soccer and cricket among other sports, with his father his number one hype man. In junior golf, he swiftly moved through to be recognised as his regions best and in no time, he was in the national junior teams. In 2007, he claimed the Callaway Junior World Golf Championships and the following year, the South African Boys' Championship. College beckoned and he went to the University of Texas, where he won the decisive match to lead his team to victory at the 2012 NCAA Championship. Ever so patient. Ever so meticulous. “I pride myself in getting better every step of the way,” he said, speaking on the Sunshine Tour’s Out of Bounds. “I don’t believe in skipping steps, you have to go through your own process.” His process earned him two Challenge Tour titles, a Sunshine Tour tri-sanctioned title and most recently, his maiden PGA Tour title, the John Deere Classic. “Something needs to take a bit of time,” he says, “there have been tons of guys who became overnight sensations; won once or twice, and then they just didn’t have the staying power. I’ve always prided myself on being meticulous and not rushing things. I think that’s the sustainable way, I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong but I like stability in my golf and life in general.” The stability of having full PGA Tour status, thanks to a win, and ability to compete at major international events is what Frittelli has always worked for. From junior to the professional athlete. And now, among the elite in the game on nothing but merit, Frittelli’s next mission is clear. “The majors and the WGC events, that’s where my focus is now,” he says, “the John Deere Classic was huge but the crazy thing is that confidence which came after that. People talk about different stages and levels of a professional athlete’s career and I’m like “hey, I’ve won” and I had that trip to The Open, right after. So, I know the next platform for to me to shine is the majors and the WGCs.” With success on the Sunshine Tour, the Asian Tour, the European and Challenge Tours, and now on the PGA Tour, it is not a ridiculous idea to tout Frittelli as a future winner of major events. And having seen the fruits of his process, doubting its efficiency borders on the ignorant. Be so as it may, when he returns to golf following his positive test for the Covid-19 and is cleared to play, Frittelli will challenge for titles everywhere he plays.
GolfRSA Statement – Announcement on the return to GolfGolfRSA and the Golf bodies welcome the efforts of the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture that have allowed for the safe return of Golf. The Golf bodies wish to thank the Minister, Director-General and their team of staff for their commitment to helping Golf to begin exercise and training for members of a federation, agency, club or body. Golf acknowledges and recognises that the safety of human life is of paramount importance. We appreciate the challenge presented to the government to ensure an appropriate response to the threats presented by the global Corona Virus pandemic. As a result, we sought to ensure compliance with unfolding regulations and directives. Over the past few weeks, GolfRSA has equipped all clubs with Risk Mitigation Strategies and training of Compliance Officers. In addition to this, GolfRSA has provided all facilities with a state-of-the-art Application that allows for the scanning and monitoring of all golfers and staff. Clubs need to complete the Confirmation of Compliance Document and submit it to GolfRSA before they can open their facilities. We wish to thank the golfing public and industry for their support of the collaborative process undertaken by the golf bodies.
GolfRSA STATEMENT – 8 June 2020GolfRSA has today received an official reprimand from the Ministry of Sports, Arts and Culture following certain golf estates and facilities opening up for golf last week and this past weekend. According to the official letter from the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, “the opening of these facilities is in direct contravention of Regulations 37 (1) (e) read with 39 (2) (b) of government’s Alert Level 3 Regulations.” “Hence, the contravention of the above Regulations, in terms of Regulation 48 constitutes and offence, which may amount to a fine or imprisonment,” the statement continues. The actions of these estates and facilities has potentially put the reopening of the entire golf industry at risk. In the letter, the Department wished to place on record their “appreciation for various engagements with GolfRSA as we chart the way forward for a return to play for the sports sector”. The fruitful discussions between the delegation for Golf and DSAC have been amicable and progressive. We have established a high level of mutual trust and the Minister, Director-General and the team at the Department has been open and proactive in terms of working towards solutions for the safe return of Golf and other non-contact sports. In a statement on Friday 5th June, GolfRSA communicated that we were days away from an announcement regarding the decision relating to the return of golf. GolfRSA also warned that actions of golfers and clubs demonstrating defiance of the regulations could negatively impact this announcement. The behaviour of a small minority of golf clubs and golfers over the past few days is a direct threat to the reopening of the golf industry, undoing the good work done by the delegation of golf over this period. In the official letter, the Department acknowledged that it “fully understands the impact that the pandemic is having on Golf and the sporting sector as a whole”. The letter requests GolfRSA to notify golfers and clubs to “desist from resuming golf activities until such time as the directions are gazetted and the details therein are complied with”. GolfRSA does not condone the opening of any golf facilities before the department gazettes the official regulations and we sincerely hope these actions have not put the reopening of the golf industry at risk. We have yet to make an official statement in terms of an actual date for golf’s return and we request that golfers treat any communication from outside agencies with caution, as there are many misleading communications from clubs, as well as posts doing the rounds on social media. GolfRSA and the SA golfing bodies urgently appeal to all golf facilities in South Africa not to jeopardise Golf’s positive position. Please comply with the current Alert Level 3 Regulations and exercise good conduct as we cross the final hurdle. Click the link BELOW to view the letter from the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture Letter Department SportsArtsCulture_8June2020
Rama seals Virtual Sunshine Tour Knockout victoryRookie Nikhil Rama claimed a comfortable three-shot win over Heinrich Bruiners in the final of the Virtual Sunshine Tour Knockout to become the very first champion of this virtual tournament. A first for professional golf in South Africa, the #VST8Knockout featured eight golfers from the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour. They competed against each other in a knockout format at Soweto Country Club, and all the matches were being streamed live on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch. The first semi-final match was between Dwayne Basson and Rama and having been in fine form from the knockout stage, Rama won the match in the first playoff hole. Both players finished tied at one-under-par in regulation and while Basson made a par there on the first hole of sudden-death, Rama made his birdie and won the match. “It feels pretty good to win the #VST8Knocout,” said Rama, “I know it’s not like winning a tournament on the main Tour but it’s still nice to win and thank you to everybody who watched supported us. “Winning the first virtual tournament is amazing for me because it’s something we’ve never done and I hope it can only grow from here. I can’ wait to get back on real tournaments and start competing again.” In his semi-final match-up, Bruiners beat Oliver Bekker to book himself a spot in the final.
Rama eyes maiden “Tour” win as he seals semi-final spot of Virtual Sunshine Tour KnockoutThe VST Knockout powered by Gauteng Provincial Government got underway on Saturday and rookie Nikhil Rama was in rampant form as his three-under-par score saw him qualify for the semi-finals with the lowest score in the field. The virtual knockout tournament – a first of its kind in professional golf in South Africa – features a total of eight golfers from the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour competing against each other in a knockout format at Soweto Country Club, and is being streamed live on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch. The first match saw Dwayne Basson take on Thabiso Ngcobo in a thrilling encounter where the winner would be decided in sudden death. Both players finished at two-under-par in regulation but a birdie on the fourth playoff hole earned Basson the first spot in the semi-finals. “It went a lot better than expected,” said Basson after his victory, “and definitely didn’t expect the game to get my heart going a little there towards the end. But it was nice to finish the way I did, with those few birdies in those last few holes. So, I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s semi-finals” Playing in the second match of the day, rookie Rama, claimed a comfortable six-stroke victory over Dylan Mostert, a rookie himself on Tour. Rama carded a three-under-par round, the lowest score of the day. “It feels awesome to win my first match of the knockout,” he said, “it’s a first Sunshine Tour event for me. The thing I mostly enjoyed today was that feeling of bringing back tournament nerves again. Started off a bit nervous but then got it together and the nerves settled. Started to get the game back again. If I win, I don’t think it will be as big of a victory as the main Sunshine Tour win but it will be up there for me to remember” Oliver Bekker also claimed a hard-fought win against Sunshine Ladies Tour pro, Cassandra Hall. His two-over-par score was enough to earn him a four-shot victory and a spot in the semis. “It was really exciting, said Bekker. “There was a little bit more pressure though because there’s a little bit more than just pride on the line; to try and get into the next stage. It was good. I didn’t play my best but luckily it was good enough. Looking forward to tomorrow.” The final spot in the semi-finals went to Heinrich Bruiners whose level-par finished ensured he claims victory in his second appearance on the Virtual Sunshine Tour. He lost to Andre Nel the first virtual challenge of this series. “They say level-par is always good,” Bruiners declared after his victory over another Sunshine Ladies Tour player, Lejan Lewthwaite. “I’m just happy that I pulled it through. Lejan played some good golf but I was lucky because I have a PlayStation at home. She probably would have beaten me if she had more practice, I got lucky today. “I’m going to bring my A-game tomorrow. Bekker needs to be prepared because I’m going to bring the heat.”
Virtual Sunshine Tour launches SA golf’s first virtual professional tournamentThe Virtual Sunshine Tour (VST) will be taking it to the next level this weekend in a first for South African professional golf – a virtual golf knockout tournament. The VST Knockout powered by Gauteng Provincial Government will feature a total of eight golfers from the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour competing against each other in a knockout format on Saturday 6 June and Sunday 7 June, and which will be streamed live on YouTube, Facebook and Twitch. In another significant move, Soweto Country Club will be the host virtual course of this tournament. This brings this iconic golf club, which has undergone a comprehensive refurbishment by the Sunshine Tour and in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government and a host of private and public benefactors, into an entirely new digital space. “We are extremely excited about this next phase of the Virtual Sunshine Tour. This is part of our greater strategy to engage with and reach a new audience on platforms where they wouldn’t normally consume golf,” Thomas Abt, the Deputy Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, said at the launch of the tournament on Thursday. “It has been extremely difficult to have no opportunity to play live golf, and this has been a challenging time for all of us in South African golf. As a Tour, our foremost priority is to give our member players the chance to earn a living, and we cannot do that at this time. We also need to give our sponsors value during this time. So we’ve had to reinvent ourselves somewhat, and the Virtual Sunshine Tour has definitely gained momentum. No other professional sport that we know of in South Africa has had this kind of consistent virtual presence during lockdown, so we are very proud of what we’ve achieved this far. This tournament is another important step in that growth.” The format of the VST Knockout powered by Gauteng Provincial Government will see four matches played online on Saturday 6 June from 12:00 to 17:30. The semi-finals and final will be played on Sunday 7 June. The first semi-final will be played from 12:00 to 13:00, followed by the second semi-final from 13:30 to 14:30. The final will take place from 15:00 to 16:00. The eight professionals will compete for a total of R6 500 in prize money, with the winner earning R3 000. Sunshine Ladies Tour professional Lejan Lewthwaite is one of the eight professionals who will compete this weekend. “I jumped at the chance to be a part of this because I’m just itching to be competitive in some way again,” she said. “It’s been tough as a professional athlete to stay focused during this COVID-19 lockdown and as we wait for golf courses to re-open, so in that sense, I think the Virtual Sunshine Tour has been an awesome concept.” Sunshine Tour professional Heinrich Bruiners said he is equally excited about the chance to compete in a virtual golf tournament for the first time. “I’m so excited just to be able to be competitive again and get those competitive juices flowing.” Abt also paid tribute to the significance of Soweto Country Club being the virtual host this weekend. “It’s very exciting. The Soweto Country Club project was the vision of our Commissioner, Selwyn Nathan, and all of us who have worked on it have been privileged to be a part of it. The Gauteng Provincial Government have been amazing partners with us on this project, and we’re very pleased to give them this opportunity to showcase that even more in the virtual space.” VST Knockout powered by Gauteng Provincial Government Match Schedule: Saturday 6 June VST Match 1: Thabiso Ngcobo vs Dwayne Basson (12:00 – 13:00) VST Match 2: Dylan Mostert vs Nikhil Rama (13:30 – 14:30) VST Match 3: Casandra Hall vs Oliver Bekker (15:00 – 16:00) VST Match 4: Heinrich Bruiners vs Lejan Lewthwaite (16:30 – 17:30) Sunday 7 June VST Semi-Final 1 (12:00 – 13:00) VST Semi-Final 2 (13:30 – 14:30) VST Final (15:00 – 16:00)
GolfRSA reaction to High Court RulingIn light of the Gauteng High Court Ruling that declared the country’s Alert Levels 3 and 4 lockdown regulations unconstitutional and invalid, GolfRSA in conjunction with all the golf bodies, is taking action and legal advice to ascertain the repercussions the ruling holds in terms of the ongoing discussions between GolfRSA and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture. The High Court suspended the declaration of invalidity of the regulations for 14 business days, meaning that the current Alert Level 3 regulations remain in effect until 24 June 2020 or such sooner time that the Minister amends and republishes the regulations. It is not clear whether the ruling impacts the positive progress we have made in our consultation with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture – or not. But once we have a better understanding of our position, we intend to take the appropriate action to ensure that our bid to re-open the golf industry at level 3 remains on track. The ruling casts legal uncertainty over the country’s regulations at a time when Covid-19 cases and deaths continue to rise. However, we remain firm and committed to our position that we can return to golf safely. We reiterate that our golf facilities are ready. We have been hard at work since the start of the lockdown to put Covid-19 protocols in place. We are prepared for the return of golf in line with our comprehensive Risk Mitigation Strategy for golf facilities, which adheres to all the demands of the government’s health regulations. In addition to the Best Practice Protocols in place, GolfRSA has purchased the advanced version of HealthDocs App, which will ensure that all golf clubs and facilities address the Covid-19 compliance regulations in terms of digital screening, monitoring, tracking and recording of all staff and golfers who enter a facility. We firmly believe we are on the right path and we are intent on seeing this process through. But we will consider every other option available to us. This is vital, as only through the return of golfers to the courses can we save the clubs, resuscitate the R48 billion (pa) golf industry and mitigate significant job losses amongst the more than 40 000 people directly employed. Sincerely
|Grant Hepburn||Selwyn Nathan||Ivano Ficalbi||Chris van der Merwe|
|GolfRSA||Sunshine Tour||PGA of South Africa||Club Manager Association of SA|
GolfRSA InformationFor all the latest news, information and guidelines surrounding golf and its return please visit the GolfRSA website and their Covid-19 Information Centre. Link - www.golfrsa.com
Following the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture’s briefing this morning, GolfRSA on behalf of all South African golf bodies, would like to go on record in expressing our disappointment around the continued uncertainty in terms of where the return of golf stands at Alert Level 3.
There are sufficient examples globally that have proven that golf can return safely and in so doing, reignite the industry.
We have been clear with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, through our detailed proposals and supporting documents, that a prerequisite for any professional golf to be practiced or played is for golf facilities to be open to all.
Golf clubs in the main worldwide derive their revenue from amateur golfers playing golf and this is essential for golf courses to survive. There are approximately 40 000 people employed by golf clubs across South Africa, and 85% of these employees fall in the most vulnerable economic sector.
Our overriding priority is to save jobs without adding any risk.
All South African golf bodies are united in their belief that we are well-prepared for a safe return of golf. We have the necessary protocols in place, including a comprehensive Risk Mitigation Strategy, Best Practice Guidelines and the advanced version of Healthdocs – an all-inclusive screening and monitoring application – available at all golf clubs.
Golf is played in wide open spaces and lends itself naturally to social distancing. The sport is globally recognised as healthy exercise for persons of all ages and is also an excellent stress-reliever.
We are acutely aware of government’s priority to safeguard lives, restrict the spread of the coronavirus and to save jobs in order to revive the economy. It is our strong belief that without the return of golf and opening up of golf facilities, the industry will collapse.
We will urgently pursue all avenues to engage with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, including the Sports Steering Committee and Appeals Committee as referenced by the Minister of Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.
Grant Hepburn - CEO GolfRSA
Selwyn Nathan - Commissioner Sunshine Tour
Ivano Ficalbi - Chief Executive PGA of South Africa
Chris van der Merwe - Chairperson Club Manager Association of SA