One of the golf courses used
By Olawale Ajimotokan
South Africa is using golf events to reposition as tourists preferred destination.
The recent 18th MTN World Golfers Championship is a strong statement in support of this deliberate mission.
It was held on four brilliantly designed golf courses along Durban golden miles and wondrously astounding surroundings, which allowed visitors to pursue leisure activities after scheduled golf tour.
The strategy of using global sporting activities to become to the world’s most admired location for events was stressed by MEC for Economic Development and Tourism, Mr Michael Mabuyakhulu.
“Golf in particular has become one of the most interactive games for members of the business community where they exchange ideas for possible business partnerships and joint ventures that could broaden trade, essential for the creation of jobs and reduction of poverty levels the world over,” Mabuyakhulu said.
For seven days, golfers from Nigeria and 30 other countries, trooped to the KwaZulu-Natal Province to participate in world’s largest singular gathering for amateur golfers.
While the WGC achieved its objective of bringing people together to network, promote friendship and business, it was South Africa that lapped up the benefits by opening its frontiers to the world’s golf entourage.
The African continent’s biggest economy is well aware of the power of destination marketing which explains why the world will once again head for Durban next year for the 19th WGC from October 25- November 2, 2013.
Once that comes to pass, it will put KwaZulu-Natal at par with PGA National, Florida (1995-97) and Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic (2001-03), as the only courses to have staged the coveted championships on three consecutive occasions.
While it lasted in Durban, amateur golfers from around the world had the honour of competing within their own skill levels over 72 holes, at Cotswold Downs Golf, Umhlali Country Club, Durban Country Club and Prince’s Grant Estate.
Those courses were some of the 16 golf courses that dot the north eastern seabed of South Africa, making the area the first pick for international visitors to the Rainbow Nation.
Of particular note is that Durban Country Club, which overlooks the azure waters of Indian Ocean, has on 17 different times staged the SA Open and has the Moses Mabhida Stadium, used for FIFA 2010 World Cup as its conspicuous view from every part of the course. The course’s par 5 No 3 is widely regarded as best third hole in the world.
Beyond the confines of the fairways, the golf cast was also overwhelmed by the sights as they had the benefits of seeing two of the world heritage sites; the Drakensberg Mountain range and the Isimangaliso Wetland Park towards the North Coast.
These were in addition to the teasing shoreline of Durban, which offers an opportunity to walk along the beach, as far as the uShaka Marine World and view the Shark and other sea animals while embedded in the labyrinth of a sunken ship.
Former Liverpool goalkeeper, Jerzy Dudek, who represented Poland in the Invitational tournament, was bowled over by the organization of the event and remarked that he had a great time attending the event in Africa.
“Last year I made the WGC team, but I had such a fantastic time that I decided to return in the WGI. I am glad I made the decision. Once again everything is fantastic”.