The key to success at Golf de Planchetorte is excellence off the tees and perfection is exactly what Andrew van der Knaap, Rupert Kaminski and Luke Jerling from the South African Universities Team will aim for in the 16th World University Golf Championships in France from 23-26 June.
The Jeremy Pern designed layout has been toughened up in the last two years.
A 1.2 hectare pond was introduced, the greens, tees and fairways reshaped and several holes were lengthened. The South African trio had their first look at the 6040 metre, par 72 layout on Tuesday and braved hot and humid conditions on Wednesday to pack in another practice round to plan their attack.
“You couldn’t compete on this course with a B-game,” said Oklahoma City University student Rupert Kaminski. “This is undoubtedly the tightest course I’ve ever played and the key will be keeping the ball in play and great course management.”
Van der Knaap concurred.
“The course is phenomenal, unlike any course I’ve ever seen,” said the University of Pretoria student.
“It has a very tight layout with narrow, challenging greens. If you want to score, you will have be incredibly accurate off the tees and very patient on the greens.”
Jerling graduated from Lamar University in the United States with a degree in Finance last year. Like his team-mates, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University post-grad student believes accuracy and patience will nett the biggest pay-off.
“The course is really narrow, but it is not that long,” Jerling said. “You won’t have to use the driver that much, but you still have to plan and execute your tee shots to perfection, because the course is very unforgiving. You have to keep the ball in play to give yourself birdie chances.”
Team manager Emile Steinmann from TuksGolf Club & Academies said course management is key.
“We are going up against players from 21 countries who are all here in pursuit of glory and this is not the kind of course or championship where you just rock up at the first tee and hope for the best,” Steinmann said. “We had two productive practice rounds and I am confident that they are ready for the challenge that lies ahead.”
The 2016 trio are hoping to emulate Jaco Ahlers, Jake Roos, Christiaan Basson and Charl Coetzee, who claimed South Africa’s only victory in the championship at the Nakon Ratchasima Golf Club in Thailand in 2004.
“The World University Golf Championships is played biennially,” said Johan Steyn, Head of Program at TuksGolf Club & Academies.
“It alternates with the Summer Universiade and these are the flagship events of the International University Sports Federation (FISU). More than 30 percent of the athletes who medalled at the 2015 Summer Universiade last year will be in action at the 2016 Olympic Games, which really highlights the prestige and status of these two events.
“Our integration with the South African Golf Association (SAGA) enabled Universities Sport South Africa send a team to Gwangju last year. Similarly, with the backing from SAGA, we were able to send Andrew, Rupert and Luke to represent South Africa at the World University Golf Championships this year and we are very grateful to SAGA for their support.”
South Africa will face off against representatives from Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Netherlands, South Korea, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and the Virgin Islands over the next four days.
The players will compete for the Individual Medallist Honour over 72 holes and the best two scores per team will count toward the team’s daily total in the Team Competition.