The NMMU-Madibaz golfers will aim to use local knowledge to their advantage as they strive to make an impact in the University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament at Humewood in Port Elizabeth next week.
Following practice rounds on Sunday, the competition tees off on Monday as the cream of the country’s student golfers gather at the famed links course to test themselves against the conditions and their peers.
The Madibaz, who will field two teams, would want to improve their positions of last year when they ended fourth and eighth in the A division of the matchplay section at Port Shepstone.
KPMG NMMU Golf Club president Karl du Preez, who is heading the local organising committee, said they were fielding two well-balanced teams, with Luke Jerling standing out as a key player.
“Our students play a lot of tournaments at the coast, as well as at Humewood, and hopefully that will give us an edge. Our first goal is for both sides to qualify for the A division and hopefully win it.”
The Madibaz A team comprise Colin Baldie, Mike Mayberry, Jerling and Jacques Smith, while Mike Usendorff, Steve Dent, Hando Brophy and Wihan Kleyn make up the B side.
The individual and team strokeplay titles will be contested over the first two days and the competing teams will then be divided into matchplay sections.
The matchplay divisions will be decided by their performances in the strokeplay competition, with the best three scores of the four team members counting towards their overall strokeplay total.
The top eight sides will contest the matchplay A division for the team title, playing foursomes in the mornings and singles in the afternoons.
Tuks will defend their titles after winning the strokeplay and matchplay championships in Port Shepstone. The individual strokeplay title was won by Maties’ Phillip Swanepoel.
Du Preez said they were looking forward to hosting the varsities at the coastal venue.
“It will be a great experience for the students to play a true links in the wind as it is so different to normal conditions.
“So we are hoping for windy and tough conditions, but the seven-day forecast indicates the first two days will be mild. Hopefully the conditions will get more challenging as the week progresses.
“Humewood is in great nick and the rough is tough, which makes it an excellent matchplay setup,” said Du Preez, who felt that Tuks, Varsity College and Maties were the main contenders.
Golf manager Melissa Awu said it was a great opportunity for Madibaz Golf to show the other institutions what they had to offer.
“The partnership with KPMG is helping us develop the code and we are definitely competing for top-three honours.” She added that they were hoping to enter a women’s team in 2017.
The full line-up consists of Walter Sisulu University, Stellenbosch University, North-West University, University of Cape Town, NMMU, Varsity College, University of Johannesburg, University of Pretoria, Wits University and University of Limpopo.