History of the SA Amateur Championship
Although the S.A.G.U. was only formed in 1910, there has always been an annual championship tournament and invariably at Easter. The main item for many years was the S.A. Amateur Championship, for which the Union Steamship Co. had given the Challenge Cup, competed for in 1893 for the first time, and won outright by Douglas Proudfoot in 1985. The same donors very kindly gave another cup to replace the original, making sure that this time there would be no repetition of "total loss." The new prize is definitely "floating" a wise plan, for Proudfoot went on to win another five championships.
Particulars of some of the earlier meetings are scarce, but it is pretty certain that more news will be culled from various sources for the 1968 Yearbook. It is just as well that at least some of the salient features should appear within the covers of one book, and all readers are asked to help
Proudfoot sequence nearly stopped
Douglas Proudfoot won his eighth successive amateur championship at King William's Town in 1902 with an aggregate of 361, not a very impressive total. That he did win came as a surprise, because at halfway stage there were four competitors in front of him:
Ben Wynne (Port Elizabeth), 180;
A Henderson, G.P. Weir (King) and R.Law (Cape), each 187. Proudfoot had taken 188 for the first two rounds.
Bob Law was actually the favourite, but he had a bad time in the first round, and in the last two rounds there was only one man in it: and that man was Douglas Proudfoot.
The following year at Port Elizabeth the Cape player, R Law, came into his own, winning with 366, one stroke ahead of the "uncrowned king f South African golf," Ben Wynne. Tom Rollo (Cape) followed, 343; and then Proudfoot, 345, whose reign was now at an end.
Skipping a few years, one comes to 1908 and the victory of J.A.W. Prentice at Port Elizabeth, where, by sinking a long putt on the last green of the last round he put himself one stroke in front of Ben Wynne and H. Gordan Stewart. That was a championship if you like. Wynne and Prentice were playing on their home course.
Prentice won at Potchestroom next year, two strokes in front of Stewart, but at Wynberg the following year Dr. E.L. Steyn (Royal Cape) won by one stroke from Prentice. No one was more suprised than the new champion, and he showed it when Prentice walked up to congratulate him as he came off the last green.
Prentice won the following year at Greyville, Durban, seven strokes ahead of Harry Biden. The next year at "Potch". Gordan Stewart was the champion, nine strokes ahead of his Royal Cape Clubmate. W.C.E. Stent. Prentice came again the next year at Kimberley and won both the Amateur and the Open titles played concurrently.
Encouraging the youngsters
A little extra space has been devoted to this period because it belonged so much to Jimmy Prentice. He died fighting in the First World War, and in his will he left money with which to purchase trophies, both national and provincial, in order to encourage golf among the youth of South Africa. His name is a household word among golfers. He hailed from Scotland and this was his way of returning thanks for all the hospitality he had received in South Africa.
The first championship of a national character in South Africa took place at Kimberley in September 1892, during the time of the big Exhibition. It was not very representative. Players from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and Cape Town were present, and these, together with the Kimberley golfers, played a championship by match play.
Denholm Walker, who was the municipal organist for Cape Town DOUGLAS PROUDFOOT won the S.A. Championship eight times in a row, from 1893 to 1902 and a prominent member of the Cape G.C. though not quite so good as Pat Grant, beat a Kimberley man, H/J. Mackay, in the final by sinking a four-foot putt amidst great excitement, Mackay was the Kimberley champion.
BERNARD WAYNE who won the S.A. Amateur Championship four times. At this meeting, too, Kimberley won the very first S.A. Inter-club contest by beating both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. There was no "open" tournament or championship: no pro's. were present.
Of special note: The record of the Kimberley course was lowered to under 100. Denholm Walker's 92 was the best; Pat Grant followed with 93. Both members of the Cape G.C.
The South African Golf Association and Womens Golf South Africa have joined forces to form GolfRSA, a new unified company that will professionally administer the commercial interests and golf operations of amateur golf in South Africa.
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