Amateur scene. IPT preview.

North’s only A section title came at East London Golf Club in 1984, and one never knows what to expect from them. However they are a team on the up. The Blue Bulls won promotion from the В section at home in 2010, and last year they halved with WP, then gave Central a scare on the final afternoon, coming within a point of winning the title in a close defeat. They finished third in the A section. They miss Brandon Stone, so will need a strong week from No 1 Zander Lombard and the likes of Hendre Celliers and Aubrey Barnard, who is the current Northern Amateur match play champion.

KwaZulu-Natal were champions at home in 2009 and runners-up in 2010, but are also in a rebuilding phase, having chosen four new caps. It’s a team without a star performer. In the last IPT at PEGC in 2003 they were playing in the В section.

Boland have not contended for the A section title since winning at Kyalami in 2007 and finishing second at Hermanus in 2008. But they have three exciting young players in Drikus Bruyns, Armandt Scholtz and Jacquin Hess, and can be expected to spring surprises. They were second to WP at PE Golf Club in 2003.

Three years ago Limpopo were sixth in the B section; now they make their debut in the A section with an unchanged team that was unbeaten last year. They fact Central on the opening day and wall be up for the battle with a point to prove. Expec Central to be more nervous than the newcomers.

Eastern Province have a tremendous record at home in the IPT (they have won seven titles in either Port Elizabeth or East London), and will start as B section favorites with Southern Cape. EP captain Naldo Claassen makes his eighth IPT appearance and the hoes are boosted by the addition of promising new caps Andil Adam and Fezikele Kana, who have progressed through the SA Golf Development Board.

Southern Cape have three new caps, most significantly their No 1 player Shaun Smith, who represented South Africa this year. He missed last year’s IPT through injury.

Port Elizabeth has had an extremely wet winter, with several tournaments having been postponed at both the PEGC and Humewood. The Hill is a good match play) venue with a strong finish t both nines. PE is starved of top golf tournaments so the golfing public usually support national amateur events well when they come to town.

Natal, newly promoted from the B section, were always useful at coastal venues, and had a good side which featured three players prominent today in the pro ranks — Tim Clark, Keith Home and Warren Abery.

Hosts Eastern Province had one of the strongest teams in their history, and it was a period in which they were regular contenders for A section honors. Their team boasted future internationals in Steven Shearer and Quinton Ralph, and a youthful Peter Zingela, who still plays for EP today. One of their stars that week was Gary Thain.

The final team in the A section was Western Transvaal, and they weren’t to be discounted, with Springboks Bradford Vaughan and Jaco van der Merwe playing at the top of the order.

As it turned out, Westerns upset WP 7-5 on the first day and set the tone for a wonderfully competitive and exciting week. Every day the results were unpredictable. EP lost on day one to Southern, but thrashed Westerns the following day. Natal halved their opening two matches with WP and EP, and WP then stopped the unbeaten run of Southern in convincing fashion on day four. Ricky McCrindle, one of the dependable Province players of that era, opened his singles match with four birdies and an eagle to be five up after five on Clarke. Immelman, then 15, showed signs of his future class by being five-under through 12 to beat Bean.

When Friday dawned, the final day of the week, four teams remained in a position to win the title, although the favorites were Southern and Natal, who were up against each other in the last game.

However, if they halved, then the IPT champions would come from WP or EP, who had their own battle going on. So it was all to play for.

EP had not won the A section since 1961, and the local supporters were full of hope when they took command against WP. Their top four players in the and Shearer — all won their matches to end Province’s hopes. Shearer, on his home course, that week beat three Springboks at No 1 — McLardy, Abery and WP’s Hennie Walters.

Natal had the early advantage against Southern, as they led in the foursomes. The singles swayed back and forth until it was 5-5 with two closely balanced matches left as the players approached the dangerous 17th. Bradley Davison, the 1992 SA Amateur champion, was one up on two-time SA Amateur champion Clarke, giving Natal a likely point, while McLardy, that year’s Freddie Tait champion at the SA Open, was one up on Abery, the reigning SA Amateur champion, giving Southern a likely point. Would they halve, and present EP with the title they had wanted for so long?

Davison hit his tee shot close on 17, and when Clarke missed the green left, petrified of the water right, EP’s hopes rose, and those of Southern dimmed. Then, in a moment of high drama, Clarke chipped in for a birdie, Davison missed, and they were all square. Behind them, McLardy also missed the 17th green to then chip in for a birdie of his own! Game over, 2/1.

The PEGC has a superb par-5 closing hole, a slight dogleg left, where there can be a two-shot swing at any time. In 1995, before modern technology, the tee shot was a risky one over trees on the left in order to find the fairway and get within range of the green. Both Clarke and Davison failed to clear the trees, but the luck of the bounce was cruel for the Natalian. His ball finished directly behind a tree. He had to chip out backwards, and lost the hole and the match to a par by Clarke. Southern had won 7-5, and the title was in their hands once again.

While EP never claimed the A section title after that, there was Eastern Cape celebrations for neighbors Border that week. They won the B section at the Hill, the first and only time in this tiny union’s history they have won a medal at the Interprovincial.

The 1995 IPT at the hill. Dramatic final-day shots at the par-3 17th.

Port Elizabeth Golf Club is hosting an Interprovincial for a fifth consecutive decade (starting in the 1970s), and this parkland course in the heart of the city overlooking Algoa Bay has been the scene of some close competition over all those years.

It is a great match play venue, having a good mix of holes where fortunes can be won or lost, none more so than the finish. The Hill is also an excellent course at which to watch the drama unfold, because of a confluence of holes which come together on the back nine.

Team managers at the IPT can gather around the 17th tee and, without moving more than 50 meters, are able to watch their players approach the green of the par-5 13th, play the par-3 14th, see them in the distance on the long par-415th, follow their fortunes on the short par-416th, and then stand right behind them on the tee of the par-3 17th.

turnarounds in IPTs, and none more so than in 1995, which could lay a claim to being the most exciting tournament in its 50-year history.

This was still in the days of the old five-team format in each of the two sections, and what made this week in September so special was that four of the five teams in the A section had a legitimate chance of winning from the outset. There was Western Province, the defending champions, whose team included two promising young teenagers making their IPT debuts, Jean Hugo and Trevor Immelman.

Southern Transvaal (now Central Gauteng) were a powerhouse in that era, and had won four consecutive IPT titles from 1990 to 1993. Their side included Andrew McLardy, Andy Bean, Vaughn Groenewald and the veteran Neville Clarke, competing that year in his 19th Interprovincial.

Akasia are kings of the North.

Unheralded Akasia Golf Club from Pretoria North, which had won the Gauteng North Scratch League for it first time this year, went one step further by claiming the Northern Union League Finals trophy on their home course.

The trophy had been won by Wingate Park last year, and in June this year Akasia beat Wingate Park in a playoff to decide the Gauteng North Scratch League title after the two clubs had tied at the top of the log.

Akasia won both their games on day one of the Finals, against Polokwane (5-3) and Ebotse (5,5-2,5). On the second day they beat Kriel (5,5-2,5) and Potchefstroom (4,5-3,5), and halved with Randpark, who had lost to Polokwane on the first day.

Akasia’s main contributors to the wins were Fourie Zietsman and Martin Scheepers, who both won four of their singles, while Mellette Hendrikse and Clifton Stanley earned points. The other team members were Robert Gouws, Ernest Botha, Chris Froneman, Phillip Croukamp and Zak Kleynhans.

Potch’s S P Campher and Christo Peei won all five of their singles, with Rand- park’s Neil Homann winning 4,5 points.

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