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The Africa Open Golf Tournament - East London, South Africa

The first tournament was held at the Fish River Golf Club in 2008, some 100 km’s from East London. The East London Golf Club, one of South Africa’s finest and most famous courses, has been the proud host of this prestigious tournament since 2009. The Africa Open has blossomed in importance since it’s early beginnings and is now proud to be a fully co-sanctioned tournament and part of the European Tour.

Golf tournaments are all about sponsors and the Africa Open has enjoyed ongoing support from the likes of the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality and the Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Agency. The prize money on offer has always been high and sufficient to attract some of the top South African and international golfers over the years. Retief Goosen (winner 2009) has been a regular visitor. Other top golfers, including Louis Oosthuizen (winner 2011 and 2012), Thomas Aiken (2014), Darren Clarke, Jaco Van Zyl and Darren Fichardt (winner 2013) have all walked the famous fairways of the ‘old lady’ as the ELGC is often called. We saw quite a tussle this year. Matt Ford from England certainly fought above his weight but in the end, was unable to meet the challenge presented by South Africa’s Trevor Fisher Jnr. Who ended up running away from any opposition with a stunning 63 on the final day.

South African golfers have dominated the tournament over the years, other winners include Charl Schwartzel (2010) and Shaun Norris in 2008. The 2015 field is very strong and has attracted some top golfers including Englishman Andy Sullivan who walked away with first place at last week’s Joburg Open. In addition to the Africa Open title, The players will be fighting it out for European Tour membership, world ranking points, Race to Dubai and the Investec Cup points on offer.

The East London Golf Club

Situated amongst the dune forests, players and spectators alike enjoy magnificent sea views from many points on the course. The design embraces the natural dune contours, this adds to the appeal by offering players a challenging but playable course with a high risk or reward factor.

The ‘old lady’ is short by modern standards at a little over 6000 meters in length. With some help from the coastal winds that prevail, she does however put up a formidable defence against the technical advances in golf equipment. Even the best players in the world have often had to lift their game to the highest levels when competing on this wonderful layout.

In the days of yesteryear, Port Elizabeth professional golfer, A. G. Gray, won the second of East London’s six SA Opens in 1906. Another well known East London winner was Sid Brews who in 1930, beat his brother Jock into second place to win his third of six SA Open titles.

 One can almost imagine the suited spectators, waiting excitedly for the crisp sound of the ball smacked against the face of the old persimmon woods. Savouring the moment as the sound reverberates amongst the tall trees, their branches waiting eagerly to punish every wayward shot.  

Bobby Locke, famed for his putting ability, won the SA Open in East London in 1937 as an amateur. He turned professional the next year and went on to win five consecutive Opens, truly a remarkable achievement.