Broomhead braces for SA Stroke Play title defence

Jono Broomhead will be gunning for back-to-back South African Stroke Play titles at Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate

10 February 2023 – Defending champion and GolfRSA No 1 Jono Broomhead will lead the country’s top amateurs when they take on a wave of international players in the South African Stroke Play Championship at Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate on Monday.

The GolfRSA South African Swing, which draws top international golfers to the country, consists of the African Amateur Stroke Play Championship, played at Leopard Creek last week, the SA Stroke Play and the SA Amateur Championships.

Broomhead’s victory at Randpark Golf Club in 2022 marked a fourth straight South African victory in this prestigious tournament after Jayden Schaper (2019), Casey Jarvis (2020), and Martin Vorster broke the international stronghold that ensued with Frenchman Ugo Coussaud’s victory at Port Elizabeth Golf Club in 2015.

In 2016, Ireland celebrated Jack Hume’s triumph at Blue Valley, a year later it was French celebrations again with Edgar Catherine lifting the trophy at Kingswood and who can forget Sweden’s Oliver Gillberg’s march to victory at Pecanwood in 2018.

The 2023 edition has drawn close to 40 international entrants from 13 countries, including Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, France, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, India, Israel, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

The GolfRSA premier events will be played back-to-back at the same venue, but the SA Stroke Play Championship will be contested exclusively on the Lakes Course.

Both premier events will be played back-to-back at the same venue, but the SA Stroke Play Championship will be contested exclusively on the Lakes Course.

As a KwaZulu-Natal native, Broomhead understands the added pressure from the local crowd to win successive titles.

“It’s great to come in as the defending champion, but it’s going to be tough,” said Broomhead, who soared to the summit of the GolfRSA Open Amateur rankings with wins in the Gauteng North and Free State Alex Levin Opens before a sixth-place finish in the African Amateur last week. “I started the year quite well and I want to try to keep that going in this tournament and next week.”

The 22-year-old believes the weather could be a big factor in course management.

A view at the Lakes course at Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate

“It’s exciting to play the Lakes course this week. The Woods course has hosted plenty of amateur championship and Sunshine Tour events. But the Lakes course doesn’t have to hide in the shadow of the Woods course anymore. The layout is quirky, with a lot of hazards and very little bail-out room. “And the finishing holes this week – the clubs normal 15th to 18th – will be very tough if the wind gets up. There is also rain in the forecast again, and that will further test the field. Luckily, I am used to the weather, and for the rest, it’s fairways and greens.”

Mount Edgecombe Golf Director Kevin Stone said extensive work was done to the Lakes course in the last two and a half years, and it’s a testing challenge.

“We turn the nines around for this tournament, so players will finish their round on the club’s regular ninth hole at the clubhouse. It also makes for a more exciting and dramatic finish. If the wind blows from the southwest, it will be an extremely challenging finish,” Stone explained.

The sixth hole into the breeze will probably be a good 3-wood or a 5- or 6-iron for the boys. The seventh is probably a 5-iron par-three with a very challenging tee shot.

“The eighth is the kind of hole where you’ve got nowhere to miss; there are hazards all the way up the right and hazards all the way down the left. From the tee box, it’s about a 205-meter carry with the water and from there you still have quite a bit of work to do to get to the green.

“On the ninth, we built a new tee box behind the lake, and here too, there’s nowhere to miss. So, ball striking is going to be important on those last four holes with the southwester. The north eater proves to be a little bit easier but we’re hoping to get a little bit of the southwester.”

2022 SA Stroke Play Championship winner Jono Broomhead in action at Mount Edgecombe’s Lakes

Familiar as he is with the area, Broomhead is taking nothing for granted as he hopes to ride the momentum of the success of the start of the season to becoming the first double champion since Haydn Porteous’ feats in 2012 and 2013.

The Durban Country Club golfer will not be the only leading South African in the 144-strong field.

Kyle de Beer, the reigning SA Amateur champion, as well as last week’s African Amateur champion and reigning British Amateur champion Aldrich Potgieter are equally keen to lift the prestigious silverware on Thursday.

Coming from a ninth-place finish in the singles and captain of the victorious GolfRSA Protea Team that won the Team Competition, De Beer is both confident and cautious ahead of one of the most important weeks in amateur golf in South Africa.

“I’m really looking forward to this tournament,” said De Beer, “I’ve just had a good look now at The Lakes course here and it’s looking great. The greens are in good condition and we’re hoping that the weather plays its part, and we can get a full tournament. It’s going to be a great test.

Reigning SA Amateur champion Kyle de Beer

“The South African team – me, Jono, Aldrich and new cap Dan Bennett – played well last week. I am proud of the boys for flying our flag high, but this is a new week and there is a lot of added international competition. The game is good and trending in the right direction, so I am ready to go again this week.”

De Beer, like many South Africans in the field, will know of the history of this event and the names of great players who have won it before. That list includes major winners Ernie Els and Trevor Immelman, European Tour champions Branden Grace and Porteous, and Sunshine Tour winners Jean Hugo, Louis de Jager, Jacques Blaauw, among many others. Immelman’s triumph in 1998 was at the same venue, while in 2011, Jared Harvey celebrated a popular win at his home course.

The South African Stroke Play Championship will be contested over 72 holes, and the field of 144 will be cut to 65 and ties after 36 holes.