ABSA SUPERSKILLS ADDS A SKILL FOR THE AGES
The ABSA Superskills contest has become an eagerly awaited regular for a selection of participants in the annual Telkom Supersport Shootout, taking place the day before the main event and requiring a wide range of golfing skill in order to win the first prize, which is a R20 000 donation by ABSA to a tournament beneficiary nominated by the winners.
Having won the Superskills title four times previously, including three consecutive years, it was no surprise that the pre-event favourites were the former Springbok wingers Breyton Paulse and Chester Williams, but they faced some stiff competiton in the form of Robin Peterson and Ashwell Prince, representing the cricket fraternity, Neil and Mark Tovey representing football and Sampie Pienaar and Jason Quinn flying the flag for the sponsors.
The contest consists of four skills, each awarded points for first to fourth place. The teams start with a longest drive competition – in which each player gets two shots – a chipping contest, putting contest (in both of which the player are only given one chance) and then finally two holes of greensomes, in which both members of the team hit tee shots, they choose the best tee shot and play alternate shots from there.
To keep things interesting until the very end, double points are awarded for the greensomes discipline and there was an additional twist for the competitors in 2016. Once they had hit their long drive efforts using their own equipment, the contestants were greeted by the head of Hickory Golf South Africa, Paul Adams, who issued them with their slightly less-than-familiar tools of the trade for the final three disciplines.
The first golf clubs used had hickory shafts and Paul and his team have gathered a sizeable collection of these, as well as conducting a local hickory golf championship and taking South African players to compete in the World Championships in Scotland. Supersport presenter Dave Usendorff, who has travelled to the Scotland to participate in hickory golf, was on hand to provide some expert advice on the nuances of chipping and putting with hickory clubs. The unfamiliar clubs were certainly a leveler for the players and it was clear that the ability to adapt quickly was going to be important.
While Chester Williams comfortably won the longest drive title for his team – prompting calls for on-the-spot blood testing – he and Paulse came a little unstuck in the chipping and putting and, going into the two holes of greensomes, any of the four pairings still had a chance of victory. The pairings played the greensomes over a par-4 and a par-3 with the hickory shafted clubs. After being left in a greenside bunker by brother Mark at the par-4, Neil Tovey played an incredible bunker shot with a club that possibly pre-dated the invention of the sand wedge by 30 years! Crucially, it kept them in the hunt.
The Tovey brothers went on to make a solid par on the par-3, which was enough to give them the 2016 ABSA Superskills title and a R20 000 cheque to a beneficiary of their choice.
Once again, great competitive spirit, camaraderie and skill prevailed.