The 2017 ISPS Handa SA Blind Golf Open was staged at the Woodhill Golf Club in late August.
The field included the defending B2 champion Garrett Slattery and B3 champion Morne Els, as well as Graham Coulton from Australia (the 2010 British Open net champion).
The Woodhill golf course, situated in the eastern suburbs of Pretoria, is currently rated in the top 100 courses in SA. It is a parklands course in excellent condition, offering a challenge to golfers of all levels. The two nines are very different with the front nine rising and circling the “hill”, while the back nine is flatter and more thickly wooded. While the fairways were fairly generous, the fast greens and strategically placed hazards made the course very challenging.
Late August in Pretoria proved to be very kind to the players regarding the weather, with warm days and very little wind. Coming out of the dry winter, however, meant that the fairways were very dry and lies often tight.
The first day proved to be challenging for all players, with the best net being Garrett’s 75 closely followed by Johan Kotze on 76. Garrett had a comfortable lead in the B2 gross category, while the B3 category was very open, with very little separating Leon Strydom, Morne Els and Ernst Conradie.
The second round saw most players improving as they learned their way around the course. Johan took a lead into the final 9 holes in the net competition, but a poor final hole saw him relinquish his lead to Garrett who successfully defended the net category.
The B2 gross was also won by Garett, ahead of Johan and Graham Coulton (who made a good recovery after a poor opening round).
B2 Trophy presented to Garrett (left) by Graham Coulton (right)
The B3 gross trophy was eventually won by Leon who kept out Mone by 1 shot, followed by Ernst in 3rd place and a very solid 4th place finish by Charlene Pienaar in her first year in the medal event after winning the development trophy in 2016.
The development category saw two juniors, HP Lensley and Jontey Kotze, join the three Worcester players, Gerald Visser, Johan Henning and Johan Steyn. Following this year’s event we are very hopeful that we have some great up-and-coming talent in our youngsters. HP Lensley comfortably won the event ahead of Gerald and Jontey.
The final results were as follows:
B2 Gross Champion: Garrett Slattery – 192
B2 Gross Runner-up: Johan Kotze – 221
B2 3rd place Graham Coulton – 255
B3 Gross Champion: Leon Strydom – 219
B3 Runner-up: Morne Els – 220
B3 3rd place Ernst Conradie – 231
Net winner: Garrett Slattery – 144
Net runner-up: Johan Kotze – 147
Net 3rd place: Leon Strydom – 155
Development winner HP Lensley (62)
Development runner-up Gerald Visser (35)
Development 3rd place Jontey Kotze (30)
The SA Blind Golf Association would like to express our sincere thanks to all of those people and organisations who provided financial and other support which made this event possible.
Thanks too to the Woodhill Golf Club, and the fantastic team from management, the pro shop, catering, waiters and the invaluable caddies. We were made to feel extremely welcome throughout the event.
SABGA is hoping to be able to raise the funds necessary to send a team to compete in the next biennial International Blind Golf World Championships (the most prestigious event in the blind golf calendar) in Italy in 2018.