TOURISM in KwaZulu-Natal will receive a major boost this week with the influx of over 1 200 travelling golfers, their caddies, television crew, European and Sunshine Tour officials and overseas guests who arrived in the city for this week’s inaugural $250 000 Jonsson Workwear Open at the iconic Durban Country Club and Mount Edgecombe Country Club.
The tourism industry has suffered immensely due to the prolonged Covid pandemic and this international event which features top professionals from 27 countries across the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, Far East, Australia and New Zealand will at least help kick-start the economy in the province in some small way.
As an added boost Nick Jonsson, chairman and chief executive of JONSSON Workwear, announced at the launch of the event that the company’s sponsorship would initially be for three years with an option to renew in the final year of the agreement.
“We, as a company, are in this whole-heartedly because of our love for the province and the city,” said Jonsson. “We believe KwaZulu-Natal needs an iconic professional golf tournament to showcase the city of Durban and the province of KwaZulu-Natal.”
SuperSport, the host broadcaster, will televise the championship live from Durban Country Club on the weekend of November 26-27 into sub-Saharan Africa and 51 other countries across Europe, the United Kingdom, Far East, Australia and New Zealand. It’s estimated the broadcast from the Durban Country Club, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, would reach a massive 136-million homes.
A group of KwaZulu-Natal businesses – BMW Umhlanga, EastCoast Radio, Hilton Garden Inn at the Umhlanga Arch and mFula Wilderness have come on board to make this a thoroughly local event.
The championship starts on Thursday with both the Durban Country Club and Mount Edgecombe Country Club courses being used for the opening two rounds. There are 216 players in total – 108 international players affiliated to the European Challenge Tour and 108 local Sunshine Tour professionals – in the field.
The third and fourth rounds of the 72-hole championship will be played at the Durban Country Club.
Thomas Abt, commissioner of the Sunshine Tour said: “There will be 10 hours live coverage on the weekend of the championship – five hours on each day – and the city of Durban will no doubt be showcased to the world at large. And the province of KwaZulu-Natal will no doubt be marketed as the destination for holidaymakers and as a golf paradise of note in South Africa.”
The Jonsson Workwear Open is one of seven co-sanctioned tournaments of the European Challenge Tour in Southern Africa. While six events are being staged on scenic, prestigious and pristine South African golf courses, the seventh and final one will be in Tanzania where the Kilimanjaro Klassic will be played at the Kilimanjaro Golf & Wildlife Estate in Arusha from April 7-10.
The Jonsson Workwear Open is the third of the seven – the first was the $350 000 Dimension Data Pro-Am, played two weeks ago, followed by last week’s $250 000 Bain’s Whisky Open in Cape Town.
The last major international golf championship held in Durban was the 2010 South African Open which was won by Ernie Els at Durban Country Club.
Two thousand golf enthusiasts will be allowed into the championship on each day at both golf courses.