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Celebrities, business people and pro golfers teamed up to make 29 four-ball teams for the Pro-Am, before the more serious business of the Joburg Open got under way.
THE fifth annual Joburg Open began without a hitch when 29 teams took to the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Course for the Joburg Open Pro-Am four-ball.

Executive mayor Amos MasondoGolf is not just about putting and greens, says executive mayor Amos MasondoThe Pro-Am is an invitation only event that pits teams made up of one professional playing in the Joburg Open and three amateurs against each other.
City officials took a break from their suits and ties and donned golf shirts and trousers for the hotly contested tournament, which took place yesterday. City manager Mavela Dlamini played an 84 off his 10 handicap. “My game wasn’t great but I really enjoyed being out on the course,” he said afterwards.

Arriving just in time for the prize-giving hosted in the hospitality tent in the evening, Executive Mayor Amos Masondo said he was disappointed he wasn’t able to take part. A keen golfer himself, the mayor’s busy schedule kept him off the greens.

Addressing guests and players at the prize-giving, Masondo spoke of the importance of the tournament to the City and to the development of the sport. “On life skills, golf is not just about putting and greens. It is also about developing core life skills such as self-awareness, self-discipline, a high self-esteem, a positive and optimistic outlook, and integrity.”

Watch a video of the Joburg Open Pro-Am gala dinner and awards ceremony.
Explaining why it was important to direct resources to sports, Masondo explained: “Government is about the wellbeing of people … it is service … it is about a people-centred approach.

“It’s important to indicate that development is not just about housing or roads. Development includes sports and other related activities. Overall, it is always important to balance the competing needs in a way that ensures that the bias to address the needs of the poorest of the poor is not lost sight of.”

Golfing calendar

City manager Mavela Dlamini shares a laugh with celebrity Mark FishCity manager Mavela Dlamini shares a laugh with celebrity Mark FishOn the Joburg Open, Masondo said the tournament had blossomed into “a firm favourite on the global golfing calendar”. This year’s tournament would again provide spectators with opportunities to see “both top-ranked and exciting new talent” in action.
“In particular, we are pleased that most of our past champions – Ariel Canete, Richard Sterne, Anders Hansen and, of course, the defending champion, Charl Schwartzel – are on the field of play.”

Masondo was taken by surprise when businessman Vincent Mntambo, the chairman of Metrobus and ASG Consulting Solutions, took the mike to honour him for the work the mayor had put into the tournament since its inception.

“This man has made many sacrifices, many of which went unnoticed. He helped us climb the hills to get to the mountains. We dedicate this evening to you to show our gratitude,” Mntambo said.

Masondo was given a Nike golf bag and set of clubs, a collage of some of his moments on the greens and a trophy in thanks.

Also at the prize-giving were a handful of local celebrities who had played in the Pro-Am. Among them were Olympic swimmer gold medallist Roland Schoeman, football star Mark Fish and radio personality John Robbie.

Fish, whose team scored a respectable 90 points with the help of pro Henny Otto, said he had struggled with his drive but had made some good recovery shots. “I played on the west course, which is supposedly the easier of the two. There were one or two water-logged patches … from all the rain we’ve been having, but overall the general condition was good and I enjoyed the playing.”

Prizes were handed out by Dlamini and the member of Joburg’s mayoral committee for environment and corporate services, Matshidiso Mfikoe.

City manager Mavela Dlamini tees off earlier in the dayCity manager Mavela Dlamini tees off earlier in the dayOn the more difficult east course, the few women taking part seemed to dominate, with Connie Paull taking nearest to the pin on hole five and longest ladies’ drive on hole nine. Nozipho Jafta took nearest pin on hole 16. Kenny Kenneth took the longest drive for the men. The winning team, coming in with an impressive 87 points, was that of pro Jake Roos and amateurs Selwyn Nathan, Daniel Nathan and Sam Hackner.
On the easier west course, nearest to the pin was Jeff Nolobele on hole five and Kenny Patson on the 16th. Khali Jamda took the longest ladies’ drive with Cornell van Lingen taking the men’s. The winning team, scoring 91, was that of professional Seve Benson, Schoeman, Jonathan Jaiboira and Jason Ngubeni, the executive director of economic development in the City.

It was his first time in the Joburg Open Pro-Am, but Schoeman said he was looking forward to playing again next year: “I enjoyed the day very much. It’s always nice to mingle with the pros and see how good they really are.”

The Joburg Open began on 13 January and has a prize purse of €1,3-million (about R11,7-million) to be split between the top 70 golfers of the 200 playing in the tournament.

Entrance is R30 a day or R80 for the entire tournament; it is free for pensioners and children under the age of 16. Tickets are available at the gate.

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