The SLT is in its infancy, this year being its second. There are a total of 8 tournaments throughout February and March, including the Final at the end of the series. I decided that I would just stay for a month, giving me 5 events. Lots of playing time and a little bit of practice in between. I based myself in Joburg at my friend Nicole Garcia’s home, another player on the LET. Her family were very kind in putting me up and looking after my every need. It was a real home away from home.
Our first stop was at Sun City. It's only a 2 hour drive from Joburg, and yet it tends to be 8-10 deg warmer. My body was going to be in for a shock!
It was seriously hot; thankfully we had been given buggies for our practice round. After 9 holes, we had the customary pit stop at the halfway house. I was exhausted, my head was thumping and I felt like I'd walked 18 in a sauna! How was I going to cope in a tournament if I couldn't cope in a buggy?! Aside from the heat, there was plenty to admire. Lots of African wildlife gracing the fairways; warthogs, mongoose, monkeys, baboons and even Crocodiles, thankfully they weren't on the fairways! It's a truly magical place.
First round of 2015 in 40deg, I shot 76 (+4). Not too shabby, I'm just pleased I survived! The game was a little rusty in places and there were a few shots thrown away through heat exhaustion, but all in all a respectable score.
The second day was even hotter, it was just a case of staying patient and taking on enough fluid. Some girls didn't even make it to round 2, as they W/D through heat stroke. Despite a bogey, bogey finish, I managed 73 to finish tied 5th. I was really chuffed.
It would have been nice to explore more of what Sun City had to offer, but there was no time to waste as we only had 1 day before our next tournament started back in Joburg at Glendower. They had recently held the men’s European Tour event there where the rough was causing havoc. Unfortunately, I struggled. I don't think I had fully recovered from Sun City and my game still had some teething problems. One of which was short game, the Kikuyu grass is a whole new kettle of fish when it comes to chipping. I finished tied for 18th, which was nothing to write home about. But I am pleased to say that my host Nicole took the title, her 1st win as a Pro, which was fantastic.
We had a few days off before heading to George for the next one. A bit of rest time, coupled with some practice. We made a visit to the Lion Park where I fulfilled a life long dream of walking with a Cheetah and interacting with lion cubs, it was absolutely incredible. One of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done.
Next on the schedule was the Di-Data Pro-Am, which is a well-established men's tournament and the newly added women's event held at the same location, which in this case was Fancourt. A really beautiful place with 3 top ranked courses in the world surrounded by stunning mountainous scenery. Every night there was a function with entertainment put on for the players and their guests. I got to meet Jacques Kullis (I gather, quite a good Cricketer), George Coetzee, Branden Grace and others. Even our new Ryder Cup Captain, Darren Clarke was present.
Our first round was actually off the Fancourt complex at the Ernie Els designed course, Oubaai. A truly beautiful course on the coast. Unfortunately for us the weather turned foul and we played in the most horrendous conditions. It’s hard to believe, but you’d be forgiven to think you were playing on a bad day in Scotland!
Thankfully the weather returned to it’s usual bright sunshine for our final round at Fancourt Outeniqua. I played quite nicely, despite a few course management errors, I gave myself lots of chances but didn’t convert my fair share of putts. I shot 73 (+1), which put me in a tie for 7th place. I could feel my game and my ability to score steadily improving, so there was no reason why I shouldn't be shooting under par for the remainder of my trip.
We left delightful George and flew to Cape Town for my penultimate tournament being held at Royal Cape. I’ve always wanted to go there. It didn’t disappoint. What a gorgeous place. I was fortunate enough to be staying with a lovely family adjacent to Table Mountain, the views were breathtaking.
Royal Cape is the oldest course in South Africa, it definitely had that authentic feel to it. You got a sense you were near the coast as the wind really blew in the afternoon, up to a 3 club wind. I played really nicely 1st round, some of the best ball striking this year so far. For whatever reason though, my Par 5’s were terrible! It was like I had been cursed or something! 5 over par for four par 5’s is unacceptable. I finished +2 for the day, very frustrating! I continued to strike the ball well for the second and final round, I was determined to post a score that reflected that. One blemish on the card and 3 birdies, 3 under par 71. I jumped from 11th place to 3rd! I was delighted. Just a shame about those Par 5’s on the first day. Still, at least I was moving in the right direction.
We had a day to spare in Cape Town before heading back to Joburg. We we’re hoping to get a chance to go up Table Mountain, but it had been closed for 2 weeks due to high winds and cloud. Unfortunately it was still closed, so we spent the day at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for a spectacular tree top walk and drove to Camps Bay for a relaxing lunch by the sea. It’s a real paradise, I didn’t want to leave.
Final leg of the trip took me back to Joburg for my final SLT event at Royal Joburg and Kensington. I really enjoyed the course. We played our first round on the Monday immediately after the men’s European Tour event took place. They ‘kindly’ kept the men’s Sunday pins for us to play on the Monday. None of them we’re easy! I started slow out of the blocks, we had woken up at 5:30am and it took me a while to find the energy and wake up. I had a chicken roll at half way, I was +2 after 12, then suddenly I stepped it up a gear and birdied 4 of the last 6 to finish -2! That’s more like it. There were 3 of us tied for the lead at -2. I was excited to be in the final group, especially as I knew my game was getting better all the time.
Up at the same time again the next morning to avoid the traffic, but I was bright and breezy and ready to go. I started well, I was -1 through 6 holes and leading by 1. I bogeyed 7 from an unplayable stance but it was no big deal. Then we waited about 10 mins to hit our second shot into the Par 5 8th. I could feel my energy levels dropping rapidly, especially as it was quite hot. Ashleigh Simon had eagled in the group ahead and moved to 2 shots ahead. I missed a 5ft putt for birdie on 9 and subsequently doubled the 10th. My concentration was slipping and it didn’t matter what I ate, I couldn’t seem to replenish the energy levels. From then on I was making sloppy tired errors. Meanwhile Ashleigh was playing solid golf. It was such a shame. It became obvious that all the early mornings and the amount of golf I had played in such a short time had finally caught up with me, I had hit a wall. Ashleigh was a deserving winner, she shot 65, which was a fantastic score. I finished tied 8th, which saw me complete 4 Top 10 finishes out of the 5 starts.
I was extremely pleased with my overall performances over the 4 weeks, it was good to feel the steady progression in my game. It’s certainly given me the preparation I need going into the 2015 LET season. Kicking off in Morocco on 26th March for the Lalla Meryem Cup.