PLEASE STOP CALLING IT ‘AFRICA’S MAJOR’

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It sticks in my gullet that the Organisers and Super Sport are doing their level best to brain-wash us into calling the Nedbank Challenge ‘Africa’s Major’.

It sticks in my gullet that between them, the Organisers and Super Sport are doing their level best to brain-wash the media and the public into calling the Nedbank Challenge ‘Africa’s Major’.
Of course it’s nothing of the sort – and never will be.
But don’t get me wrong.
The event remains one of the high spots of the South African golfing calendar – and not only because the prospects of great hospitality for it’s 12 competing players and their families or the fat purses ranging from a first prize of $1,2000 to $200,000 for the man who comes stone last, attracts some of the game’s greatest stars.
There is a lot more to it than that.
In a setting that spells fun from the moment you arrive at Sun City, the Nedbank’s become one of the year’s big social occasions in Southern Africa, especially if you happen to be a major client of Nedbank or Sun City.
As a venue, the pristine Gary Player Country Club is as good as you’ll get anywhere in the world, it’s 9th and 18th being two of the finest amphitheater holes in the game
Super Sport’s TV coverage is also superb – when they are not turning up the volume and blasting you with screeching, blaring, over-the-top ads about themselves and the events they are covering – and yes that awful one-liner about The Nedbank Golf Challenge being ‘Africa’s Major’. Yuchhh!
But yes, it’s a wonderful event that has left a string of great memories during the 26 years it has been in existence.
Sunday’s ultra-tense climax when Trevor Immelman, despite stumbling with bogies on his last three holes, somehow managed to hold off an equally nerve-strapped, fumbling Justin Rose produced another thriller with some great golf being played heading into that nerve-shattering final stretch.
But by no stretch of the imagination can this or any of it’s many nerve-tingling predecessors be considered a major – despite the normally rational Immelman’s emotional post-tournament comment about winning an event that has come to be considered – yes, he actually said it, “Africa’s major”.
Seems as if even this normally rational young star of the future has been brain-washed.
Lets be clear on this.
A major gives hundreds and hundreds of the world’s best players the chance to win, first by qualifying in various ways, and then by giving a full field, in the heart of the season, the chance to capture a hugely-coveted title that will put the winners name up in lights for all time.
It’s not made up of the 12 best available invited players willing to travel to Africa at the end of a long, hard season when many of the games greatest have already put up their feet and settled down for a Christmas break at their holiday homes.
An African Major? Why not – as the game becomes more global and grows at a pace outside of its traditional homes in North America and Britain.
South Africans have the know-how, the venues and yes, even the financial muscle to stage a major – and have proved it by the way they have successfully handled international events like golf’s Presidents Cup and rugby and cricket’s respective World Cups.
But it won’t happen until they start pouring the type of resources that go into the 12-man Sun City invitational into a proper tournament like the South African Open, the world’s second-oldest Open, but one of it’s poorest in terms of prize money.
Perhaps the involvement of the Dubai company, that has just jumped into the forefront of European Tour golf by announcing that they will be staging the World’s richest tournament in 2009, could be the king-maker in this respect.
It may be significant that these Middle East owners the Cape Town Waterfront and the Jack Nicklaus-designed Pearl Valley golf estate near Cape Town have managed to persuade the SAGU to hold their next three Opens at Pearl Valley and to no longer move their most prestigious event around the country from course to course as has been their tradition.
FOOTNOTE:
This old item of news may help you understand what I am going on about:
The United States Golf Association has accepted 8,544 entries, including the entries from the 58 golfers who are already fully exempt, for the 2007 US Open, to be played June 14-17 at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, PA
Eighty-eight percent of the total entries were received online, including 706 on the final day (April 25) that applications were accepted.
The USGA received 130 entries online in the final hour. The last entry to arrive was from Arvo Voip, a 25-year-old amateur from Magalia, Calif., who beat the 5 p.m. (EDT) deadline by 17 seconds.
The first entry received was from 2005 US Mid-Amateur runner-up Carlton Forrester, a 30-year-old from Birmingham, Ala., who submitted his Open entry 12 minutes after the online system went live on March 5.
Whether you agree or disagree, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject so do drop us a line.
Cheers
Neville Leck

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