The Pretoria Country Club is 105 years old and is renowned for being a quality sports and social venue in the capital. Set in the magnificent surrounds of Waterkloof, the Country Club boasts a par-71 parklands golf course, designed by the Gary Player Group.
Sunshine Tour commissioner Selwyn Nathan explained that the tournament has been moved from Copperleaf near Centurion after two years because the Tshwane Metro would like to see the European Tour event move around the city every couple of years. Nathan said he hoped Pretoria Country Club would also be hosts for at least two years.
Subesh Pillay, the MMC responsible for Economic Development and Planning, explained why the City of Tshwane were investing in the tournament again.
“We took a bit of flak initially because many people asked why we are spending money on golf when there are backlogs in housing, electricity and water. But the decision was not taken lightly and we did it because of what the tournament meant for the city, because it added value.
“Tourism is the biggest contributor to our economy and the Tshwane Open received coverage in 47 countries last year and it reached 217 million households. The global media coverage we received was worth $67 million and the direct impact to the city was R44.5 million. Plus 202 temporary jobs were created by the tournament in 2014,” Pillay said.
Pretoria Country Club is not by any means long by professional standards at 6459 metres, but she will be able to protect herself through tight fairways and rough that can be brutal at the end of summer.
Nathan said the Tshwane Open provided an important platform for the rising stars of the game both in South Africa and from Europe.
“It’s an enormous platform for young players, it tests their skills and enables them to compete all over the world. Look at our previous two winners: Dawie van der Walt was nowhere in world terms and now he’s playing in both the United States and Europe and is having big success; Ross Fisher, last year’s winner, is now second on the Race to Dubai,” Nathan said. “I can almost guarantee that whoever wins this year will also go on to great heights.”
Nathan said he was optimistic Fisher would return to defend his title, while most of South Africa’s regular European Tour campaigners should also tee it up because there is no other competing tournament for them on the schedule that week.
“I have commitments from a big group of European Tour golfers, there’s no reason for them to be anywhere else that week plus there’s prizemoney of 1.5 million euro – about R18 million – for them to play for,” Nathan said.