Royal Johannesburg & Kensington will make history from February 16 to 21 when it becomes the first golf club in South Africa to host the men’s and women’s SA Amateur championships simultaneously. The best young talent in the country will be competing over the club’s East and West courses from Sunday to Friday.
Royal J&K CEO Chris Bentley has secured a three-year sponsorship from AON which will elevate the championships to a level of organisation comparable with a professional tour event such as the Joburg Open which the club hosted for many years.
GolfRSA are committing to Royal J&K for three years in yet another first for amateur golf. These championships have never previously returned to the same course the following year. They are customarily rotated around the various regions.
Golf Australia pioneered the concept of having the men’s and women’s national championships in the same week in the same city. Two different golf clubs have shared the event going back to 2007. The qualifying rounds are played at two courses, and the matchplay at one course.
“This is a week-long celebration of the unification of amateur golf in South Africa, bringing the governing bodies together while enjoying our top golfers play for the biggest titles in the amateur game,” said GolfRSA CEO Grant Hepburn. “It’s a great opportunity to showcase golf’s family profile. It is a sport where people of different genders, ages and abilities can compete on an even keel.”
While the men’s SA Amateur has always been played in February/March, it is a shift in the calendar for the women. Last year’s championships at Woodhill began on April 28 and ended on May 3.
Amateur golf is in a particularly strong place in South Africa right now with the quality of talent on show. Five South African boys represented the International team in the Junior Presidents Cup in Australia in December, and last month Jayden Schaper became the first amateur in 21 years to have a top-10 finish in the SA Open at Randpark. The Ebotse member’s sixth place finish was the highest by an amateur since Ernie Els was fourth in the 1989 SA Open at Glendower. His 13-under total of 271 is the lowest by an amateur in the history of the Open.
Another East Rand amateur playing even more remarkable golf is 16-year-old Casey Jarvis from State Mines, our No 1-ranked player. He won the SA Strokeplay title at Randpark by 9 shots with a 25-under total of 263. In January he won the Free State Open at Heron Banks with 18-under 266, and the Gauteng North Open at Centurion with 25-under 259, including consecutive rounds of 63-64-63. He had 77 birdies and three eagles in the 12 rounds.