One of the principal reasons for the on-going success and popularity of the SuperSport Shootout over the past eleven years has been its ability to evolve, add new dimensions and attract a more diverse player base.
Now, with a new title sponsor on board for the 2015 edition, there are more changes afoot, which look set to add more excitement and an increased competitive edge to the proceedings.
When the Shootout was first conceptualised by tournament director and former professional tennis ace Kevin Curren, it was played exclusively on an individual basis, with representatives of the sporting, business and political worlds competing for an individual gross and net title.
As the size of the field grew and attracted a far broader range of golfing ability, it was decided to convert the scoring to nett only, but to incorporate a better-ball title alongside the individual, ensuring that every player had the opportunity to contribute on every hole.
Now, with the introduction of Telkom as title sponsor alongside SuperSport, the format has had a bit of spice added to it, with the announcement of a Ryder Cup-style team format and another trophy at stake.
Curren says that with Telkom and MultiChoice so closely engaged in business ties in the ICT space and now drawn closer as co-sponsors of South Africa’s favourite celebrity golf event, the timing was perfect to introduce the team concept.
The individual and betterball competitions will remain in place, but within each four-ball there will also be two singles and a better-ball team match taking place, with the points added up to determine the winner of the team event.
With 120 players involved in the Telkom SuperSport Shootout, each team will consist of 60 players and each will have both a playing (Inside the Ropes) and non-playing (Outside the Ropes) captain.
How seriously are the respective sponsors taking the challenge at hand? Look no further than the identity of the captains, which reveals that Team Telkom will be captained inside the ropes by chairman – and long-time Shootout supporter – Jabu Mabuza, with CEO Sipho Maseka adding his support as non-playing captain.
For Multichoice/SuperSport, the roles are reversed, with Multichoice chairman Nolo Letele taking on the non-playing leadership role and CEO Imtiaz Patel leading his troops with clubs in hand.
The team selection process, undertaken by the captains the day before the competition gets underway, should in itself provide a fun and entertaining new element to the proceedings, as a ‘draft system’ will be implemented, allowing the captains to select strategically.
The betterball teams will be pre-selected by the tournament organisers and the lowest handicap golfers placed in the first 10 pairings. The captains will first pick alternately from this list of 10 pairings, after which the remaining pairings will be grouped in batches of five (10 players) which will again be picked alternately by the captains until the final make-up of the teams is determined.
As is the case in all international team golf competition, the teams will have specific outfits for each day of competition, making them easily identifiable to SuperSport’s cameras that will continue to roam the fairways and greens.
Despite these changes to the format, the essence of what has made this event such a success for more than a decade will remain very firmly in place, with representatives of South African sport past and present playing alongside and mingling with senior figures from the political and business worlds.
For Telkom, their first-time status as title sponsor alongside SuperSport is a welcome return to the local golf scene – albeit in a substantially different genre – having been a dedicated contributor to the sport at a professional level in the past, most visibly as title sponsor of the SA PGA Championship for many years.
This sponsorship re-establishes what has been a very successful association with the game of golf, while targeting it at an amateur participation level and simultaneously creating an invaluable business networking forum over the course of the Shootout weekend.
The superb layout of the Tom Weiskopf-designed golf course and the five star facilities of the Fairmont Zimbali Resort on Kwa-Zulu Natal’s north coast will once again provide the backdrop for the competition and host the evening entertainment, including the eagerly awaited charity auction.
A further feature of this event has, since inception, been the commitment from the participants to use their profile and spheres of influence to raise funds for the richly deserving causes supported by the Shootout.
This year will be no different as the event looks to add substantially to the more than R20 million already raised over its lifespan to date. The Gozololo Centre for Needy Children and the Jacob G Zuma RDP Education Trust have been and continue to be long-term beneficiaries, while the tournament hopes to announce the addition of an entrepreneur programme to its beneficiary list to encourage the creation of jobs through the small business sector.
Once again, the ingredients are all there for three days of fun, competition, networking and charity, with the watchful eye of SuperSport’s cameras adding that little bit of additional pressure for the participants in South Africa’s tournament of champions.
This year sees the third Ladies SuperSport Shootout, with new sponsor Telkom, taking place prior to the men’s event. The ladies can expect to be treated like royalty from their arrival at Zimbali to the time of their departure with the Shootout sponsors providing the golfers with fabulous gifts and prizes.
The Ladies 2014 Shootout themed gala charity fund-raising evening was hosted by former Mr South Africa Dr Michael Mol and the sensational vocal talent of Swing City – made up of Loyiso Bala, Graeme Watkins and Nathan Ro – provided wonderful entertainment.
Iconic South African entertainer PJ Powers, former Miss World Penny Rey and singer Patricia Lewis, who recently displayed her cooking skills in the celebrity Masterchef kitchen, attended for the first time last year.
Also teeing up for the first time were Yvonne Khoza, wife of Dr Irvin Khoza, Chairman of South Africa’s Premier Soccer League, Ingrid Diesel the GM of Pezula Golf Operations and event manager extraordinaire Bongi Mokaba, events executive for the City of Johannesburg who is responsible for the staging of the Joburg Open, a professional men’s event co-sanctioned by the European and Sunshine Tours .
The Ladies Shootout is played on an individual and better-ball basis and Kathy Scheepmaker, a 32 handicapper from Bryanston Country Club, managed 40 points on her own to take the 2014 Individual title and together with her partner, Gesie Graham, the pair won the betterball competition on a score of 45 points.
Tebello Mokhema was 2nd in the Individual competition and 3rd in the betterball with partner Thansi Orleyn – while June Allen finished 3rd in the Individual.
Juliana Makapan and Lindiwe Mbongwe were placed 2nd in the betterball competition.