The inaugural Canon Open Series breathed new life into competitive disabled golf in the country.
The Covid-19 pandemic meant that it wasn’t possible to stage the Canon SA Disabled Open in 2020. In 2021, while the Covid-19 situation had improved to some extent, the SADGA Board of Directors – in consultation with Canon South Africa – thought it best to restructure the event into a series of four smaller regional opens which culminated in a Champion of Champions event.
The organisers could’ve scarcely imagined what a resounding success the new concept would be. With players afforded multiple bites of the cherry to qualify for the series-finale, a number of players teed it up in multiple events while the likes of Physically-Disabled Strokeplay champion Robin Singh and Deaf Strokeplay champion Charles Williams participated in all four regional opens as well as the Champion of Champions.
Another positive of the series was its affordability. With events taking place in Kwazulu-Natal, the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng – the majority of our players didn’t have to incur the cost of paying for travel and accommodation and could just play in the tournament in their areas. Moreover, Canon South Africa and the SADGA covered the cost of entry fees as well as halfway-house meals. Suffice to say, the turnout at all four events was fantastic.
The series produced an eclectic quartet of eventual champions. In leg-amputee Robin Singh – winner of the Physically-Disabled Strokeplay title – you had a breakthrough win by a veteran of SA Disabled golf who has teed it up in a number of SA Disabled Golf Opens but who’d never claimed the overall title. Three wins across four events though helped Singh achieve a long-held ambition as he was crowned Canon Open Series Champion.
Another long-time member of the association, and one who has come through the First Swing Program structure is Charles Williams. The Deaf Strokeplay Champion began his series campaign with back-to-back runner-up finishes in Kwazulu-Natal and Cape Town before three wins on the trot achieved in the Canon Port Elizabeth Open, The Canon Gauteng Disabled Open and the Canon Open Series Champion of Champions respectively.
Shanon Van der Berg – the Deaf Stableford champion – enjoyed victories in the Canon Kwazulu-Natal Disabled Open, Canon Gauteng Disabled Open and Canon Open Series Champions. Is three events played and three events won any good? We certainly think so!
As far as great storylines go, they don’t get much better than Yolandi Magatye’s emergence as the Physically-Disabled Stableford champion. Having lost her leg just two years ago, the mother of three rebuilt her golf game with the help of SADGA coach Carlo Kok. Victories in the Cape Town Disabled Open hosted by the City of Cape Town and Canon Open Series is sure sign that Magatye will be a force in disabled golf for the foreseeable future.
It was fitting that there was a thrilling conclusion to the Canon Open Series. Williams and Cedric Touzard – vying for the Canon Open Series Deaf Strokeplay title – found themselves tied after 36 holes of regulation play. Playing a sudden-death playoff, Touzard had a chance to win the title on the first playoff hole but watched in disbelief as his putt caught the left edge and stayed above ground. Williams took full advantage of the reprieve he was afforded and converted a six-footer for par at the next hole to seal a dramatic victory and bring the curtain down on a memorable inaugural Canon Open Series.
The Canon Open Series wouldn’t have been possible without the invaluable contribution of a number of parties. Canon South Africa’s support of disabled golf has been immense and their sponsorship of our golfers’ participation in the series is greatly appreciated. Moreover, the apparel given to the players will serve as a great memento and reminder of an enjoyable past few months. Thank you to Canon for being such a wonderful title sponsor in recent years and for helping raise the profile of disabled golf events in South Africa.
Our vehicle sponsor – Volkswagen South Africa – has been integral to the successful staging of the Canon Open Series. Both SADGA staff and players travelled to each event in our trusty Volkswagen Caddy, transporting tournament operations essentials, branding and more. We appreciate Volkswagen’s role in mobilising the SADGA and it gives everyone peace of mind knowing that they can rely on Volkswagen to get to events safely.
To the host venues: Mount Edgecombe Country Club, King David Mowbray Golf Club, Uitenhage Golf Club and Zwartkop Country Club, thank you for your collective hospitality and for preparing golf courses which were both a stern test but great fun for our players.
SADGA patron Dale Hayes was exceptionally generous in his support of the Canon Open Series, offering Zwartkop Country Club to the association free of charge for the Canon Gauteng Disabled Open. We appreciate all that Dale has done and continues to do for disabled golf in South Africa.
To the Kwazulu-Natal Department of Sports & Recreation, thank you for contributing to a wonderful Canon Kwazulu-Natal Disabled Golf Open. So too the Kwazulu-Natal Golf Union for aiding the staging of the event and for making their golfers’ participation in the Canon Open Series possible.
The City of Cape Town has leant a helping-hand to disabled golf for a number of years and so to have them as host and sponsor of the inaugural Cape Town Disabled Open was a fitting acknowledgement of all they do for our golfers in the Western Cape.
From a tournament personnel standpoint: Thank you to Chief Rules Official Inus Marais for giving of his time throughout the series and, in so doing, ensuring that the competitors played the game in the right way without compromising on the aspect of fun. Inus’ enthusiasm for the game and his affable nature made him a pleasure to work with throughout the series.
SADGA Director Pieter Verwey wore multiple hats throughout the series: Head of Discipline, Rules Official, Chauffeur and Honorary Starter to name but a few and it’s safe to say he fulfilled each role with distinction. Thank you Pieter for giving of your time and well done on hitting five magnificent ceremonial tee-shots!
So ends the 2021 Canon Open Series.
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