Van Ettinger comes up trumps at Gowrie Farm

2024 Nomads Gowrie Farm SA U-15 Challenge winner Schalk van Ettinger; credit GolfRSA.

28 March 2024 – Ruimsig junior Schalk van Ettinger staved off challenges from Juan Coetzee and Shaun Viljoen to lift his first national GolfRSA junior title with a one-stroke victory in the 2024 Nomads Gowrie Farm U-15 Challenge in March.

The Central Gauteng junior was made to work for it, but thanks to a strong mental game on the last day, Van Ettinger held his nerve to pull it through.

“The final round was really tough, and I am proud of how I managed my game,” Van Ettinger said.

Having finished fifth in last year’s event, Van Ettinger went to Gowrie Farm with the winner’s circle in mind. As did Coetzee, who placed fourth in 2023, but it was Viljoen from the Eastern Province who made the first move.

The St Francis Links junior opened with a two-over-par 73 to finish one shot clear of Coetzee and Jude Samuels from Western Province, with Van Ettinger a further stroke back in joint fourth.

Van Ettinger leapfrogged into pole position though after putting together a brilliant second round 68 that featured birdies on the second and fifth holes, an eagle at the par-five fourth, and a flawless back nine interrupted only by a birdie on the par-five 13th.

Starting the final round three clear of the chasing pack, Van Ettinger looked the man to beat but coming down the stretch he was neck-in-neck with Coetzee and Viljoen.

“Juan and Shaun piled on the pressure, especially on the back nine,” Van Ettinger said. “I tried just to stay in the moment and play hole-by-hole. I was relieved to get it done, to be honest, especially after I had a plugged ball on the 18th fairway. I was already thinking play-off. Luckily, I was entitled to relief, and I managed to drain that last putt for a par to win it by one.”

Van Ettinger signed for a 73 and victory on three-over-par 213. Coetzee had to settle for second after a par on 18 for a 70, while Viljoen spoiled his chance to force a play-off with a bogey, double bogey finish. The Eastern Province junior signed for 73 and third on six-over.

Arman Patel from Western Province matched Coetzee’s 70 to finish in fourth on 221, with Central Gauteng’s Chad Stanton was fifth on 223.

The 2024 champion was full of praise for the revamped course. “The tournament was definitely a lot tougher this year because we played the full championship course, and not just the combination of the 12 holes as in the past,” Van Ettinger said.

“Besides the new holes, some of the old ones have changed, but I have to say, Gowrie Farm is a proper test now. You had to have a good game plan and you must execute it well, or the course will punish you. I am proud to tick this one off my bucket list before I move to Under-17 level.”