- South African Amateur
South African Amateur
During the Kimberley Exhibition of 1892, the local golf club hosted a week-long South African Tournament, with the main event comprising The Championship of South Africa and this involved a series of 18-hole match play ties “open to all non-professional players who have been six months members of any golf club in South Africa”. The first winner of the SA Amateur was Denholm Walker of the Cape Golf Club, defeating local golfer H. J. Mackay by one hole.
For the second edition of the contest at Port Elizabeth the following year, the Union Steamship Company presented a fine silver trophy, the Challenge Cup, for competition in the SA Amateur championship. The event was won by D G Proudfoot from Graaff Reinet and he went on to win the title eight years in a row, from 1893 to 1902 (no Amateurs were held during the Boer War years in 1900 and 1901).
After Proudfoot won the challenge trophy outright with his first three victories, the Union Steamship Company presented another trophy to replace it at King William’s Town in 1896 and this floating trophy could not be won outright. To this day, this is the silverware presented to the winner of the competition.
In 1908, the Open and the Amateur were both played concurrently during the South African Tournament at Port Elizabeth over 72 holes and this format would remain until the Amateur became a match play contest in 1925. The 1908 event attracted a field of thirty; seven professionals and twenty-three amateurs. G. Fotheringham from Durban won the first of his five Opens with an aggregate score of 294 (unheard of at the time) and J.A.W. Prentice claimed the first of his four Amateur titles with a total of 310.
For some reason, starting in 1931, the Open was omitted from the SA Tournament for three years so the amateurs teed it up in Johannesburg, Royal Port Alfred and Durban while the professionals competed in the Open at Port Elizabeth, Mowbray and Maccauvlei. In the 1934 edition, all the golfers played together again at Humewood.
The South African Golf Union then decided at a meeting in Bloemfontein 1965 that the SA Open and SA Amateur would be played separately in future, with the Open becoming a fixture on the professional summer circuit and the Amateur reverting back to its traditional date. In 2020, the new-look SA Amateur Championship Week was played at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club, with both the men’s and women’s Amateur events played at the same time, at the same venue.
A look at the record books reveals several Major winners who have lifted the Challenge Cup in the modern era: Ernie Els at East London in 1986 (he also lost successive finals the following three years); Retief Goosen at Port Elizabeth in 1990; and Trevor Immelman at Humewood in 1997. Bobby Locke also captured a couple of Amateurs before World War II (in 1935 and 1937) but one famous South African golfer who’s missing is Gary Player, one of the few top professionals to join the paid ranks without a strong amateur background.
The South African Amateur has been hosted by East London a record 13 times, though the event was played on the club’s original 18-layout on the first two occasions, in 1898 and 1906. The links at Humewood in Port Elizabeth has been used for eleven championships and the SA Amateur has also been played ten times at both Durban Country Club and Port Elizabeth.
The following courses do not appear below as they’re currently not listed in any of our provincial listings for South Africa: King William’s Town (1896, 1902), Maritzburg (1989), Potchefstroom (1909, 1912), Tempe (1905) and Zwartkop (1955).
South African Amateur Top 100 Leaderboard
B-NL Challenge Trophy