A short history of the SA Senior Tour
1995 – 1998
Many South African senior category golfers like Gary Player, John Bland, Hugh Baiocchi, Simon Hobday, Bobby Verwey and John Fourie were making a living on the USA and European Senior Tours. It is noted that South Africa’s greatest golfer, Gary Player won all the world senior ‘majors’ on offer, including three Senior British Opens. Bobby Verwey and John Fourie also each won a Senior British Open. Simon Hobday won the US Senior Open against the great players of yester-year during this period.
1999 – 2003
2004 – 2009
2010 – 2020
four,areA new Committee was installed in 2010 and in 2013 a non-profit organisation was formed (NPA) with a MOI and Rules and Regulations in line with other world golf organisations. A Board of Directors and a Players Committee was established with limited event schedules.
The SA Senior Open was re-introduced from the last played event won by Neville Clarke in 2003 at Graceland, together with the SA Senior Masters initially played at Witbank and now with its home at Silver Lakes. The latter was the initiative of Jannie Ackerman and 2020 will be the 9th hosting of this tournament.
The country’s economy has experienced low growth for a decade now and there remains a challenge for the Board to secure investors to fund senior tour events. However, sponsorship contracts have been secured with government and the private sector over the past few years and things were looking promising until Covid-19 put the spanner in the works. In 2018 the Senior Tour affiliated with the Sunshine Senior PGA Tour, which assisted with funding to help grow the Senior Tour. The funding came in as a loan agreement repayable in five year period. Order of merit events are now played under license from the ST, using the brand name “Sunshine Senior Tour”.
Currently, the Senior Tour can boast having some big names as members. Given that Gary Player has retired from competitive golf, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els are our front runners when we present and promote our larger events. Membership is growing in quality players who have turned 50 years of age. Chris Williams and James Kingston have done remarkably well on the European stage while players like Des Terblanche, Doug McGuigan, Grant Muller, and Brett Liddle have joined our membership this year. Mark McNulty continues to be our top draw card and has won four of the six events he has contested in past four years that included two SA Senior Opens and two SA Senior Masters.
It is a pity that Covid struck this year, as this has set us back from our visions and goals. A proper review and re-setting of our objectives is underway to enable opportunities for members and investors going into the future.
Ernie Els and Retief Goosen continue to do well on the Chapions USA Tour, with Ernie showing his class by winning twice in 2020.