One of Malalane’s youngest golf players managed to beat a field of experienced players to lift this year’s Lalapalm Golf Tournament trophy on Saturday.
Lucia Mhlabane is a resident of Riverside Farm and member of the Golf Development Academy and was among a group of six talented young development players who participated in this year’s tournament.
With help from the Lowveld Golf Association and Malelane Golf Club, the youngsters are trained, their golfing talents developed and they are assisted financially to compete in golf tournaments.
The Lalapalm Tournament is one of the longest-running amateur-golfing events in the country and was hosted for the 33rd time last week. It is open to anyone with an official handicap.
Many players from around the country attend each year and camp out at the club for the week, giving rise to a tent town next to the clubhouse. Dave and Ina Moore, a couple from Cullinan, have attended all 33 tournaments thus far and the event has also become a tradition for many others.
Around 90 different players competed in the tournament’s four days, with Michael Mckay of Combridge, England, travelling the furthest to attend.
The tournament consisted of three days of individual competition: an individual bonus bogey on the Wednesday, an individual stableford on the Thursday and a medal on the Saturday. On Friday there was a friendly betterball stableford with scramble drive to attract families. This was disrupted somewhat by rainy weather but players were in high spirits nonetheless.
The tournament was better attended than last year and over R21 000 prize money was up for grabs.
There was an epic hole-in-one prize of R100 000 on Saturday, which no-one managed to won. Gerhard Neethling from Swartkops was closest.
Organisers say the effect of the prize had an amazing effect on the players’ nerves as only one player out of 34 in the morning field managed to hit the green with their tee shot.
A prize-giving was held on each evening of the three competition days and the top players awarded. Tony Santana, John van Niekerk and Frans Lubbe were in the top three spots on Wednesday. Jacques Jordaan, Dimpho Mhlongo and Gerhard Pretoria were Thursday’s winners and Lucia Mhlabane, Gerard Neethling and Leon du Plessis, Saturday’s.
The tournament’s overall winners were Lucia Mhlabane in first place with 105 points, Jacques Jordaan was second with 100, Gavin van den Berg in third with 99, Thinus de Beer in fourth with 85 and Tony Santana in fifth place with 84.
Friday’s fun-day winners were Jan Combrink and Dave van der Westhuizen with 54 points.
The Malelane Golf Club would like to thank all of the sponsors that played a role in the success of this year’s Lalapalm. They would like to especially mention main sponsors Malalane Toyota for their donations, drinks supplied on course and their colourful and impressive vehicle exhibitions. Thursday’s sponsors Buco also assisted the club by offering drinks on hole 6, supplying a weed eater as a raffle prize and sponsored a “Hit the Longest Marshmallow” competition which was great fun.
The organisers say the tournament was a great success and also brought lots of visitors to the Lowveld and Malalane especially. They also received very positive feedback from the visitors with most already committed to come again next year.
The organisers have bigger plans for next year and hope to plan an evening event that the local community can enjoy.