Pezula Golf Club
This is the first article to preview Year End Tour 2017

By Gareth Greensill

Year End Tour (YET) – The highlight of the SOS calendar

Started by some dodgy self-proclaimed Frenchman, the SOS Golf Tour is now in its sixth year. It has grown in strength and popularity, now boasting a healthy membership of roughly 30 of Gauteng’s “premium golfers” and “true gentlemen”. Apart from the normal monthly rounds that get played at various courses all over Gauteng, there is one very special event that takes place once a year. It is an event that every SOS member looks forward to more than anything else; YEAR END TOUR!!!

This year’s tour promises to be the best yet! SOS members will be looking to hit peak physical conditioning, while honing their already finely tuned golfing skills for the weekend starting the 26th of October. The SOS Golf Tour descends, for the first time, on three of the Western Cape’s premium courses located along the Garden Route between George and Knysna.

Before we have a look at the challenges that await the golfers here are some of the reasons that make a weekend like this so special:

  1. Playing new courses

For many of the tour members, including myself, this will be the first time we’ve played any of the courses. Whilst there is no such thing as “too much golf”, it’s always great to deviate from the regular old haunts once in a while.

 

  1. Challenging yourself in unfamiliar conditions

Not only will the courses be unfamiliar, but with us playing almost all of our golf in and around Gauteng the coastal courses we will attempt to tame will offer up a completely different set of challenges. Not only does the ball not fly as far at sea level, which can make selecting the right club tricky, but elements like wind could play a major part in the daily outcomes. 

  1. Camaraderie

Year-end tour is a chance for everyone to get together for more than just a morning or afternoon. From the time we get to the airport on Thursday morning to the when we bid our farewells on Sunday afternoon, it is a time for every member to eat, sleep and fart golf! Boy’s weekends are hard to come by these days, so most guys leave nothing on the table. This makes for a great few days. Being away from home also gives everybody the opportunity to attend the post golf fines meetings. This full attendance only happens on year-end tour and these sessions usually last well into the evening. Finally the team aspect incorporated into YET adds a bit of friendly competition and increases the camaraderie of what is for the most part and individual sport.

For the guys looking to take home the top prize of SOS champion no single weekend is more important than year-end tour. Not only do we play three rounds on consecutive days, but the points on offer for these rounds are significantly higher. The competition is going to be fierce this year if the current leaderboard is anything to go by. With 525 000 points on offer to the winners of the Thursday and Friday rounds and 750 000 points on offer for the Saturday round (instead of the normal 300 000) there are still a host of tour members well in the hunt to add that much coveted star to their 2018 kit!

Leaderboard on SOS
Leaderboard accurate up to July

Less than 300 000 points separate the top 7 players to have passed the 1 000 000 point barrier this year!!

The courses

The course line-up for the 6th annual year end tour is nothing short of spectacular! To wet the appetite a bit, an overview of each course can be found below:

Kingswood:

Our first stop, straight off the plane and no doubt already a few beers in, will be Kingswood. Located in George this is probably the least well known of the three courses that will be tackled over the weekend. Not to be outdone however, Kingswood still boasts a very respectable 74th position in the latest Golf Digest top 100 South African courses. Kingswood is described as a links style course with no trees that come into play. This by no means makes the course a pushover. Golfers will need to contend with deep bunkers, penal rough and a number of elevation changes if they hope to walk away with a good score.

Kingswood is also a fairly short course by current standards so strategy and accuracy, rather than length will decide who walks away victorious. Ryan “Pseunawitz” Hendry will also be pleased to know that the course has been described as a “woman friendly track.” This should suit his ladies irons perfectly, making him a real threat for a top 20 right off the bat.

Finally the course offers little protection from the wind, so should it be blowing a gale force that day one or two individuals may be a little worse for wear after our first fines session on the Thursday evening.

Featured Holes

One of the signature holes on the course is the par 4, 9th which plays very much as a risk reward type hole. From an elevated tee box, looking straight ahead to the Outeniqua Mountains, longer hitters may be tempted to reach the green with their drive. Whilst an accurate tee shot may result in a potential eagle or birdie, the river in front of the green and out of bounds guarding both sides will no doubt result in the odd ring. This hole could prove to be pivotal to the overall result especially if the course is played the opposite way round and this ends up being the 18th.

Pezula:

After an early night, plenty of energade and some intense focus the boys will be ready for their next challenge on Friday morning. Pezula, Ranked 19th in the latest Golf Digest top 100 South African courses, Pezula offers up a completely different challenge to the day before.

Firstly the course is a lot longer and if set up from the back tees should favour the bombers. There are a number of significant carries as well as several blind tee shots that add to the difficulty. This will no doubt cause a few frustrations as the day progresses. Wayward shots will result in lost balls as the rough surrounding the fairways and greens is particularly brutal.  Finally the greens at Pezula will pose a significant challenge with their multiple tiers and subtle breaks. This means there will be no shortage of three and four putt fines at fines later that evening.

Pezula is made up of two very distinguishable 9’s. The first 9 holes are often shielded from the brunt of the wind by large pine trees. The second 9 offers the spectacular views, but are also a lot more exposed to the elements. All in all the golf course will offer and excellent test for all concerned.

 

Featured Holes

The signature hole at Pezula is the drivable par 4, 14th hole. At only 275 metres from the club tees and playing slightly downhill longer hitters may be tempted to have a pop at a large green. The green is surrounded by a massive bunker so a layup may be the more prudent play. If they tuck the pin away in a difficult position, this risk and reward hole could be more risk than reward. Being the stroke 8, most of the field will be looking to add a little 3 or 4 pointer to the scorecard before getting together for a selfie with the magnificent backdrop.

Pezula’s lowest stroke comes right at the beginning of the round and is unusually a par 5. Accuracy rather than length will be important here if one hopes to get their round off to a good start!

Simola:

The final challenge and perhaps highlight for the weekend is Simola. It is ranked 17th in the latest Golf Digest top 100 South African courses. Designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, Simola will no doubt provide a fitting challenge to conclude the 2017 SOS calendar.

Situated in a valley, wind may prove less of a factor at Simola, than the previous two days. The course uniquely boasts 5 par 3’s and 5 par 5’s and has a number of intimidating tee shots. The greens are lightning fast and coupled with undulating fairways, Simola will provide a real challenge for all golfers chasing those final positions. The overall leaderboard may also be highly influenced by whomever can best handle the last two days drinking sessions and put their hangovers behind them.

Featured Holes

A couple of the more memorable holes include the par 4 second. This sees players tee off an elevated box well above the fairway with spectacular views.  The fourth hole, also a par 4, requires accuracy and a potential carry over a large lake. Should the pin be tucked on the right-hand side of the green, then this hole could play very tough. The back nine has a number of beautiful par 3’s with the pick of the lot perhaps being the short 17th which plays over water to a green guarded by bunkers on both sides.

Whatever the golfing outcome, I have no doubt the weekend will be enjoyed by all. (Apart from maybe Chip’s AGM – hopefully he decides to stay fully clothed this year!!) And to top 2017 off, it will be ended on a monumental high, by Kyle, as he wow’s us with a rendition of his favourite lady gaga number.

Only 98 days left Ya Baby!!!

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