It was fitting that Knysna professional golfer and winner of 38 professional tournaments, John Bland won the inaugural Sedge Links PGA (Professional Golfers Association) Par3 Invitational Tournament on Saturday, November 8.
Not only has Bland won numerous tournaments and competitions, but adds 26 hole-in-one’s to this remarkable achievement.
Although this format has been played in both the UK and the USA, it will now become an annual event in South Africa. After careful planning and consideration, PJ Gronum, Director of Golf, Sedge Links Golf Club, presented the idea of hosting a Par 3 tournament in South Africa to Ivano Ficalbi, CEO PGA South Africa around three months ago. “Once Ivano had listened to my pitch he immediately agreed that the PGA SA would sanction the event,” said Gronum.
“This shortened format was recently introduced and hosted by the US Senior Tour as a fully sanctioned tour event. The British PGA has hosted a Par 3 tournament for many years, attracting players such as Ian Poulter, Paul Casy and Paul Lawrie to their field,” added Gronum.
Thanks to the Sedge Links Golf Club sponsorship partners, Pine Lake Marina, Scratch Golf, Pam Golding Properties and Brenton Haven, Bland won from a purse of R25 000. According to Gronum: “Every player was guaranteed a cheque.”
Well known St Francis Bay Golf Club CEO, Jeff Clause lauded the 12 players who had travelled at their own expense to Sedgefield to participate in this inaugural tournament. “It is heart-warming to see professional golfers taking time out of their busy schedule to give something back to the wonderful game of golf. Heinrich Bruiners, for example, only arrived this morning after flying back from the East where he was playing on a foreign Tour.”
Clause added that Bland was known for his generosity and giving back to the game. “When he was approached to play in this tournament he didn’t hesitate at all. He realised that the short courses are vital in attracting new golfers to the game.”
Setting the course record for the tournament of 6 under par, Bland praised Sedge Links Golf Club owner, Philip Vermeulen, green keeper, Brian Gerard, Gronum and their staff and club members as well as the volunteers for their hard work that resulted in a “great tournament”.
Vermeulen praised the collective energy of the club’s staff and members in making this tournament a reality. “Who would have thought when the excavators and diggers moved onto this piece of land in 2008 that it would be transformed into the beautiful links course it is today. A course that would attract the likes of the twelve golfers who joined us this weekend for the first Par 3 tournament of its kind in South Africa.”
Vermeulen, who had the opportunity of playing 9 holes with Bland during the previous day’s Pro Am, smiled and said: “I look at him [Bland] and see that the Old Bull still has tick in him. I am sure that having such a gorgeous caddy has a great deal to do with it.”
To this Bland jokingly said that when he received the invitation he had no choice but to bring his wife along. “She told me that there was no way that I wasn’t going to play. She wanted to caddy so we came.”
In conclusion he undertook to return as a player in 2015, “I need to defend my title.”
Final leader board
John Bland -6 (102); Roger Wessels -2 (106); Titch Moore Even (E) (108); Altus Kapp +2 (110); Heinrich Bruiners +2 (110); Peter Berman +5 (113); Carlo Kok +6 (114); Jayde Tannous +8 (116); Roelof Roelofse +9 (117); Adam McKinlay +10 (118); Cliff Barnard +14 (122)