The Sun Is Shining On South African Golf - Business Media MAGS


The Sun Is Shining On South African Golf

It may not be gushing out the superstars with the regularity it did in days of old, but South African golf’s conveyor belt of talent is still churning out plenty of fantastic future stars, writes Jermaine Craig.

South Africa has not been spared the effects of golf’s PGA Tour and LIV Golf divide, and the country’s Sunshine Tour has backed the old established guard in throwing its lot in with the DP World Tour and PGA Tour. 

Unsurprisingly, four of South Africa’s top golfers, 2010 Open winner Louis Oosthuizen, 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Dean Burmester, ditched golf’s establishment for the riches on offer at the Saudi-backed rebel LIV tour, where they compete for the Stingers GC. 

LIV golfers and participants were barred from the PGA Tour, while the DP World Tour has issued fines and suspensions at some of their events. 

It’s been largely the reason that, incredulously as of November this year, you had to scroll all the way down to 95 on the World Golf Rankings before spotting the first South African flag. 

Top South African

Thriston Lawrence is currently the top South African on the world rankings. The Nelspruit golfer turned professional in 2014 having finally burst onto the scene when winning the 2021 Joburg Open and Omega European Masters and Investec South African Open in 2022 on the DP World Tour. 

He was tipped for a huge 2023, but it didn’t quite work out as he struggled on the US PGA Tour. 

But his return to European soil made all the difference, as he emulated his hero Ernie Els in winning the massive BMW International Open in Munich, picking up a cool R6.3-million winners’ cheque for his efforts. 

Lawrence made his Nedbank Golf Challenge debut last year, an event which this year attracted the likes of US Ryder Cup stars Max Homa and Justin Thomas and recent European Ryder Cup winners Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose. 

It’s some Pilanesberg wanderlust that comes at a good time for South African golf and is a testament to the work done by the Sunshine Tour in continuing to build the sport as a fantastic global advert for the game here. 

World-class golf awaits

The Sunshine Tour’s popularity has grown since it made SuperSport its official broadcaster for the season, which came with a bumper calendar and increased prize money and exposure for the tour. 

Sunshine Tour commissioner Thomas Abt said recently that he was “very happy with what we’re able to do, which is giving our golfers six co-sanctioned DP World Tour events”. 

The six Sunshine Tour events co-sanctioned on the DP World Tourare the Joburg Open at Houghton, the Investec South African Open at the luxurious Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate, the Alfred Dunhill Championship at the magnificent Leopard Creek, the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at the brand new LaReserve Golf Links, which will close out 2023 in grand style as the SDC Championship and the Jonsson Workwear Open await in 2024. 

While the PGA Tour and LIV Golf have made overtures to mend their massive rift, South African golf seems to have weathered the storm and is doing quite nicely on its own steam. 

Young stars, such as Garrick Hugo, Haydn Porteous, Wilco Nienaber and Jayden Schaper, are the ones to watch on the world stage, as the Sunshine Tour continues to produce quality South African talent. 

“This is going to be a summer of unrivalled international golf on Sunshine Tour fairways, with world-class fields competing on some of our best courses and for major new incentives,” said a rightly excited Abt.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 17: Thirston Lawrence of South Africa plays his tee shot on the 1st tee during Day One of the DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 17, 2022 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

You might be interested in these articles?

You might be interested in these articles?

Sign-up and receive the Business Media MAGS newsletter OR SA Mining newsletter straight to your inbox.