Links of Hope and Glory

Such was the fanfare at the opening of Maccauvlei, and the general appreciation of the championship qualities of the course, that the Club staged its first South African Open only fifteen months after opening.

When the tournament took place in 1927, Maccauvlei was considered one of the best courses in the country, as a report in the Eastern Province Herald of that time indicated in this glowing account: “Those centres who aspire to provide golf links for champions cannot do better than send a delegation to this delightful spot to see how it should be done, for the course is indeed an excellent model.”

No less than one hundred and sixty players and officials were accommodated for the fortnight’s duration of the meeting. They were housed at the local Grand and Royal Hotels. But only club members were allowed to use the accommodation at Dormy House.

Maccauvlei provided an ideal venue for a championship as it enabled golfers from all over what was then the Union to gather together for the ten days of the meeting in a spirit of good fellowship, and enjoy a cameraderie that would hardly have been possible in any other centre.

The most spectacular event of the meeting was the long driving competition, and today’s users of high tech clubs might have been surprised to see what players could achieve with hickory shafted clubs.

Sid Brews won that first championship with a score of 301, and the course went on to become a regular venue for the SA Open and Amateur championships. All the competitors in that initial tournament were evidently taken aback at the enormous size of the greens in those days. One wonders what they would have made of the most recent renovations which have enlarged the greens considerably. Altogether four SA Open championships have been held at the Club, three of them won by Sid Brews who captured eight open titles in all, firmly securing his place in the South African golfing hall of fame.

In 1938, in one of the coldest spells ever experienced at Maccauvlei, the SA Open was once again hosted by the Club. The chronicles record that one of the leading contenders, Jock Brews, wore two pairs of pants, two sleeveless jerseys and one long sleeved jersey in a bid to keep out the cold. But all that armour may have slowed him down a bit, as the winner was the redoubtable Bobby Locke, then still in his first year as a professional, on a score of 279. So Maccauvlei played an important part in the development of two of South Africa’s greatest golfers, although its relationship with Bobby Locke was not a smooth one.

The fourth championship at the Club was in 1949. Sid Brews came down as a spectator as he was then in the twilight of his career. However, some of his colleagues persuaded him to enter the tournament. The local pro lent him shoes and clubs, and Sid was back in business, with a vengeance. To everyone’s amazement and pleasure he won on a score of 291. Of such stuff are golf’s legends made. Three South African Amateur Championships have been held at Maccauvlei. In 1927 the event was won by G. Chandler, in 1938 by B. Wynne and in 1949 by R.W. Glennie.

In pre-war years steel-shafted clubs had not made their appearance. A set of hickory shafted clubs consisted of a driver, brassie, spoon (wood), cleek, mid-iron, mashie, niblick and putter. When the Club was opened, a presentation by W.F. Buchanan was made of a few ancient and antique golf clubs as used in Scotland. These clubs are the ones in the showcase displayed in the President’s Lounge and are now among Maccauvlei’s most valuable assets.