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Ken Borland



First matchplay championship in 25 years on Sunshine Tour 0

Posted on September 11, 2017 by Ken

 

For the first time in nearly 25 years, a matchplay tournament will feature on the Sunshine Tour programme when the South African Matchplay Championship is held at Zwartkop Country Club from Tuesday to Sunday.

Zwartkop is a short, 6,442-metre course in Centurion that is ideally suited to matchplay golf. It hosted a famous exhibition match in 1966 between Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.

As Dale Hayes, the popular Yogi-Bear like figure synonymous with South African golf and the owner/director of Zwartkop, points out, the course may not be long, but the Hennops River winding through it presents a good mental challenge, especially for matchplay. Several of the smallish greens are fringed by the river, meaning shots that are either too short or too long are in danger of a watery grave.

“Top-class golfers hit the ball so far these days that Zwartkop is not long enough to be a great test of strokeplay golf. But when Handa [the sponsors] contacted me about hosting an event and they asked what format we should have, I straight away said matchplay.

“Because of the river, there’s water on 10 of the holes, with seven of those coming into play for the pros. So there’s a lot of risk or reward involved and a golfer needs to decide if he’s going to be aggressive or not. If he’s standing over a shot and is first to go, he’s got to decide whether to have a go or play it safe.

“You need a lot of thinking around this golf course – you can’t just step up and smash driver. Every shot requires a lot of thought and if you get too clever, then the water will be waiting for you,” Hayes said.

While this weekend’s HSBC Champions in China will obviously attract the biggest names in South African golf, Hayes says he is still “very pleased” with the quality of the field.

Jbe Kruger, the diminutive golfer with the heart of a Staffie who is third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, will headline the 128-man field and can expect a stiff challenge from the likes of reigning SA Open champion Hennie Otto, former champion James Kingston, veteran Des Terblanche and three-time European Tour winner Darren Fichardt.

Hayes is expecting a highly entertaining show from these top golfers.

“Matchplay is the most popular form of golf; it’s what you play against your buddies. Spectators can come and see some special golf. The golfers will be aggressive and will go for it and there should be lots of birdies and eagles, which you don’t see in strokeplay,” Hayes said.

The prize pool is R2 million and the winner will walk away with R300,000 as well as valuable Order of Merit points, while even first-round losers take away R4,700 from the event.

The support from the sponsor’s founder, Dr Haruhisa Handa’s ISPS – the International Sports Promotion Society – means there will also be a disabled component to the tournament.

Sixteen disabled golfers, including some from the On Course Foundation, which gives seriously injured members of the British Armed Forces the opportunity to play golf, will play in a concurrent tournament.

https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-10-29-golf-first-matchplay-championship-in-25-years-on-sunshine-tour/#.WbZ5CbIjHIU

Eksteen recognises KFC mini-cricket is a cunning plan 0

Posted on July 07, 2016 by Ken

 

Eight months ago, Clive Eksteen was ‘just’ a former Test cricketer whose passion for the sport remained. But now he has to apply the same cunning he showed as a spin bowler to Cricket South Africa’s commercial operations and this week he was dishing out praise to the KFC Mini-Cricket programme where it all begins in terms of the game in this country.

“This is where it all starts, it would be so much harder for us to implement our plans without a program like this,” Eksteen told the KFC Mini-Cricket National Seminar at Kruger Park. “This is not only about the pipeline, it goes way beyond that. We want to get cricket to all 55 million people in this country, to create a love for the game. Cricket has got to make a difference in this country, it has to play a crucial role, and it starts with the little kids. There are more than 100 000 involved in the programme, thanks to the more than 8000 coaches, which is enough to fill all six of our international stadia.”

“When Temba Bavuma played that awesome knock at Newlands, the TV ratings went through the roof and from that we can see how big this game can become in South Africa. We had 14 million unique viewers watching cricket last season and there were 500 000 tickets sold for people to go watch the cricket at the ground, which is 68% more than the previous year,” Eksteen said as he applied factual numbers rather than spin to his mode of attack.

For CSA, it is just as important to cultivate customers for their product: to have cricket fans going to the matches or watching on TV.

“We have the most diverse following of any sport in South Africa but we’re not finished yet, cricket must get to every part of the country, we want to create a passion for the game. It’s a hard sport, but it teaches you a lot and you make friends for life.

“There’s no doubt we have fantastic talent second to none, but not all the kids will become reasonable cricketers let alone internationals. But they can become passionate followers and that’s a win for us from a commercial point of view. Full stadia, people watching the game, that’s what drives the sport. For sponsors, it ultimately comes down to numbers and when your first program starts with over 100 000 kids, from very diverse backgrounds, then that’s a massive plus.

“Coaches make the biggest impact on kids and KFC Mini-Cricket creates that passion and love for the game, it’s our flagship program and the beginning of how we sustain the game,” Eksteen said.



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