Durban - The South African Golf Association has named Durban Country Club as the venue where next year's 100th SA Open will be staged.
In the past few weeks speculation has been rife that the SAGA might opt to stage their centenary in Port Elizabeth, the birthplace of the Open in 1903, for sentimental reasons.
However, the SA Open championship promoters, Maru Sport, have announced Durban will be the 2010 host of the flagship tournament on the Sunshine Tour.
“We are delighted to be able to take the South African Open back to the one course in this country which has such close ties with the history of this great championship,” said Mosire Motsei, the chief executive of Maru Sport.
“In association with the province of KwaZulu-Natal, we look forward to celebrating 100 years of South African golf history in what is not only a significant sporting year for the championship, but for our country as a whole.”
Durban CC's par-72, 6 111-metre course, is rated as the top course in the country and the second best in the Southern Hemisphere. It has staged the Open 16 times already, more than any other course and it first played SA Open host in 1924.
Over the years SA Open winners have shot some of the lowest scores at Durban CC. The stand-out feat though was John Bland’s 62 in the 1993 SA Open, an 18-hole record for the tournament.
The winner at the 1993 event was Tony Johnstone who carded a 21-under-par 267 to set a championship record, but that mark has since been eclipsed by Ernie Els in 2006 when he carded a 24-under-par 264 at Humewood Golf Club in Port Elizabeth.
Some of South Africa's greats have fond memories of Durban, none more so than the legendary Gary Player, one of greatest players in the history of the game.
The 'Black Knight' won the first of his record 13 South African Open Championship titles there in 1956.
In 1969 he scored a championship winning 15-under-par 273 there which was a SA Open record at the time, and well as a then record round of 64.
The SA Open has been hosted by Pearly Valley for the past three years but the contract has come to an end. This year no appearance money was on offer and as result none of the world's leading players could be attracted.
The nation lost its grip on the world's second oldest national golf championship when Scot Richie Ramsay lifted the title on Sunday after South Africans annexed the title for the past seven years.
However, in view of the historical significance of the 2010 tournament all the super-stars including South Africa's leading globe-trotters are likely to pitch up for the European Tour co-sanctioned event in an attempt to lay their hands on golf's second oldest trophy.
2007 SA Open champion James Kingston said it was high time for a change of venue, and that he’ll be pleased to go back to Durban.
“I’d love to go back,” said the South African. “I like the golf course at Durban CC, I’ve had a lot of success at the golf course and I’ve had good finishes at both of the last two SA Opens there.
“It’s sad to go away from Pearl Valley, because it’s a great course too, but I think it’s probably had its turn. It’s sad if a tournament like this gets ‘stuck’ in one province, so it’s nice for it to move around."