The 56th edition of the premier team championship, sponsored by Tempest, tees off at the Fish River Sun Hotel and Country Club from 19-22 September.
As the 13 teams contesting this year’s event took to splendid 18-hole championship course for the official practice round on Sunday morning, the leaves barely moved in the beating sun. Yet, just two days earlier, some of the early arrivals were forced to abandon ship when a forceful 60 km Westerly zipped around the parklands layout.
“We didn’t field a team in last year’s SA IPT at Glendower, but we are excited to join the B-Section battle this year,” said Border president Danie Jordaan.
“I guess you could call us the underdogs, but all that could change if the wind shows up in force this week. This is a fantastic risk-and-reward course and a fantastic layout for a match play contest, but it turns into a beast in the wind, especially the prevailing west wind.
“Without wind, it will be open season out there, but if it blows, knowing how to play it in the wind will definitely be to our advantage.”
If the forecast holds, the field will have sunny conditions with a slight north westerly breeze over the first two days with the wind gathering force as the week winds on.
The host province will enjoy a first round bye, but Jordaan hopes the west wind will start showing its teeth by the time Border takes on Limpopo and Eastern Province on Tuesday.
“The key to scoring at the Fish River is to keep it in play, which can be tough to do when it blows,” Jordaan said.
“Depending on the direction, you have to play the par fours as par fives and the downwind par fives as par fours. Knowing when to switch it up and how to execute the shots will pay huge rewards and we want to be on the receiving end of those rewards this week.”
The SA IPT marks the fifth time the Fish River Sun Hotel and Country Club hosts the South African Golf Association this year, following the Nomads SA Boys U-15 Championship in January, the Border Stroke Play in July, the Africa Junior Open in August and the Border Mid-Amateur Open earlier this month.
“The conditions during the Border Mid-Amateur Open were extremely challenging, with strong wind and wet weather both days,” said Border team manager Denis Jones. “Some of the Border IPT players did extremely well, like Steven Pope and Fellow Ngantweni , who finished fourth and sixth respectively.
“They are both lining up for us this week and the rest of the team – Andre du Toit, Neil du Preez, Lwazi Gqira, Ben Jonas, Nico Joubert and our skipper Sean Coetzee – also know this course like the back of their hands.
“On paper we might not look like a team to worry about, but this is a very tight unit that play hard for each other and they know how to grind when the odds are stacked against them.”
The balance of the seven teams vying for B-Section glory in the 2016 SA IPT include Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and North West.
In the A-Section, defending champions Central Gauteng will be gunning for a hat-trick against Boland, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng North, Southern Cape and Western Province.