The 2018 Greencard Golf Holidays South Africa tour event included two of South Africa’s premier golfing venues. We started with five nights at the Palace of the Lost City in Sun City before moving to world famous Fancourt for a further seven nights.
“Lost” in luxury of Sun City
The base for our five night stay in Sun City was the Palace of the Lost City Hotel. This incredible hotel was constructed in just 18 months and when it first opened was the height of luxury and opulence. The rooms were very comfortable and the features in the hotel, such as the full scale bronze elephant statues are quite remarkable.
Sun City is famous for hosting the Nedbank Million Dollar challenge each year and we would have two rounds on the famous Gary Player course. In addition, we would have one further round on the Lost City course.
$2 million first prize on AM-AM course
We were greeted by beautiful blue sky and glorious sunshine as we played the opening AM AM on the Player course. Designed by golfing legend Gary Players, this 18 hole, par 72 walking course is home to the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge, with a first prize of $2 million, the course has hosted some of the biggest names in golf. It has been cleverly designed with imaginatively placed bunkers and the kikuyu fairways and bent grass greens offer a near perfect playing surface. However, if you miss the fairways the rough is deceptively difficult.
The format for all the team games was the best two scores to count on each hole. The team including Jez Morgan, Debbie Morgan, Tommy White and Tony Negal claimed the victory with 83 points. Three points clear of Charlie Higgins, Glenn Harris, Chris Hegarty and Gail Hegarty.
Greencard on safari
There was no golf planned for the following day which gave people a chance to relax around the hotel or experience one of the many activities on other in the resort. Later that afternoon we had booked private vehicles to take the Greencard group on a game drive through the neighbouring Philansberg Game Reserve.
This National Park is set within the crater of an ancient volcano, formed 1.2 billion years ago by overflowing magma. The landscape and rock formations are the enduring reminders of this magnificent occurrence.
We had a total of five vehicles each taking ten people. It was an incredible three hour drive in which we saw elephants, zebras, rhinos, giraffes, cheetahs and lions.
Round 1: Gary Corbett comes out top against the Black Knight
The next morning, we played the first round of the event on the Gary Player course. Gary Corbett, who won in South Africa two years ago had a wonderful round scoring 38 points. Ian Harris who had also claimed a victory in South Africa several years ago finished the day just one point back on 37. Jim Barton shot a solid 36 and Richard Macro, playing in his first Greencard event carded 33. Trish Edwards, also a debutant to Greencard was the leading lady on 33.
Top teamwork navigates the Lost City
It was back to the team format for our next round. This was played on the Lost City course. Also designed by Gary Player, this impressive 18-hole, par 72 cart course is located beyond The Palace at the Lost City. The course covers more than 100 hectares with various themes, from desert to mountains and parkland. It incorporates an extremely impressive water features and is a pleasure to play.
Gary Corbett, Mike Wooding, Duncan Edwards and Sam Judson took the win with a total of 83 points. Jez Morgan, Andrea Myers, Colin Baker and Caryn James Bailey narrowly missed out by just a single point finishing on 82.
After one more evening at the Palace of the Lost City we had an early start for our transfer to Johannesburg airport and flight to George. On arrival in George we had a ten minute transfer to Fancourt.
Return to fantastic Fancourt
Fancourt is recognised as South Africa’s number one golf resort with three courses, including the famous Links. This is all set in beautiful surroundings with the Outenique Mountains as the backdrop. It is an idyllic resort with superb practise facilities, restaurants and a lovely clubhouse bar overlooking the 18th green of the Montagu course. The local town of George is just a short taxi ride away and is always well worth visiting to have dinner in the evening.
Once we had checked in to the superb rooms, we met in the early evening for welcome drinks and dinner. It was a lovely evening and the perfect tonic after travelling over from Sun City.
Gary Player sets up another challenge
The following morning, we played the last team game on the Montagu course. Originally designed by Gary Player, Fancourt’s Montagu course has developed into one of the finest 18-hole parkland layouts, earning it the number 6 position on Golf Digest SA’s list of top golf courses in the country. Exquisitely conditioned to provide a riveting golfing experience, this tree-lined course covers large tracts of varying terrain on rolling land.
The leading score was 86 points and was scored by the team including Duncan Edwards, Trisha Edwards, Tommy White and Tony Negal. The runners up on this occasion were Ian James Bailey, Caryn James Bailey and Mike Wooding who finished with 84.
Round 2: Ian James Bailey shows the way
The second round of the individual competition was played on the Outeniqua course. Ranked number 16 in South Africa by Golf Digest and designed by Gary Player. The course is named after the mountain range that forms its breath-taking backdrop, it is pristinely conditioned and always provides a true test of golfing with its many risk and reward opportunities.
Ian James Bailey continued his form from the previous team game and carded the best score of the day with 35 points. Denise Manley and Tricia Edwards both enjoyed solid rounds finishing with 33 points. Trevor Hughes found his form and shot his best score to date with 32. Richard Macro, playing off a handicap of 2, had another consistent day with 31, a score matched by Jez Morgan and Tony Fisher.
Joint leaders at halfway
At the half way stage Gary Corbett were Tricia Edwards leading the field, both on 66 points. Ian Harris and Jim Barton were just one behind on 65. Richard Macro was on 64 and Tony Fisher 63.
Walking with elephants
There was no official golf planned for the next day and several of the group took this opportunity to visit the nearby picturesque town of Knysna. It is the perfect place to visit and then enjoy a relaxing lunch. Others walked with elephants or visited a nearby vineyard.
The penultimate round of the individual tournament was played on the Montagu course. The scoring was much improved from the first two rounds. Jez Morgan, Reuben Fielding and Dale Brennan finished the day with 35 points. Sam Judson, Keith Judson and Duncan Edwards all carded 34 points. While Richard Macro, Ian Harris and Sandie Klimcke completed their rounds with 33.
Ian Harris was now top of the leaderboard with 98 points. Richard Macro was only one shot behind. Dale Brennan was in third on 95 and Gary Corbett made up the final fourball on 93. Tricia Edwards was still the leading lady, currently lying in seventh position on 90, one ahead of Sam Judson.
Final Round: A charging Fielding makes run for back-to-back wins
The final round of the individual competition was again held on the fantastic Montagu. There isn’t a weak hole on the course and the closing stretch includes the signature par 3 over water before the 18th par 5 with an island green in front of the clubhouse. It certainly tests those in contention.
Of the earlier starters, Glenn Harris had an excellent finish to the event scoring a superb 40 points. Reuben Fielding, our winner from the previous Jamaica event shot an excellent 39, which moved him to third place overall.
Two in it as we head through nerve testing final holes
Meanwhile, it was all happening with the leading group. Despite Ian Harris scoring 20 points at the half way mark, his lead had still been reduced as Dale Brennan had 21 points. The gap was now down to two points. Richard Macro and Gary Corbett had a lot to do on the final nine holes after scoring 16 and 13 respectively on the front half.
There were one or two showers around on the final afternoon of play and it would be interesting to see if this had any impact on the leaders. As mentioned above, the final few holes on the Montagu test the nerve of any player.
Ian Harris secures second Tour victory
Ian Harris certainly held his nerve and once he was safely aboard the 18th green there was no one who could stand his way of claiming his second Greencard Tour victory in South Africa. His 17 points coming in and 37 in total was enough to bring his overall tournament score to 135.
This proved just enough to hold off the challenge by the eventual runner up, Dale Brennan. He shot 36 points on the day which brought his overall total to 131.
Sam Judson was the leading lady and finished in fifth place on 123. Richard Macro who finished in fourth overall and Gary Corbett who took ninth place both ended the final round with 28 points.
Qualifiers for the 2018 Finals
Huge congratulations to Ian Harris on this victory and qualification for the Finals week, which will be held at Quinta do Lago in November. Jez Morgan, also secured the four Tour points required for his qualification.
We marked the end of the event that evening with prize giving and a BBQ on the terrace overlooking the course. It was a wonderful end to a superb event.
At this time of year, South Africa is a perfect destination and we can’t wait to return. We hope that you will be able to join us.
Greencard Golf Holidays South Africa 2018: Final Leaderboard
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