Sunshine Tour Qualifying School

First Blog of 2017

So Ive just got flown back to Abu Dhabi from Johannesburg, waiting to catch a flight back to Manchester to go home. Last week I played Sunshine Tour Q School at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg. Wow what a golf course, a true test of championship golf! 7200metres of tight tree lined, heavily protected firm and fast greens. One of the first golf courses I’ve played where there isn’t a bad hole to moan about.

I flew out there a couple of weeks early to acclimatise and really zone in my tournament prep. I stayed at a truly wonderful golf estate called Pecanwood about an hours drive outside Joburg. The lovely Joseph family looked after me like I was one of their own and I can’t thank Juanita, Donovan and Cassidy enough for their hospitality. If anyone ever travels over to Joburg you must go play Pecanwood Golf Course, a Jack Nicklaus design on the edge of the Hartebeesport Dam surrounded by towering mountains. Spectacular

Anyhow, onto Sunshine Q.  I skipped the first stage of Q school as I was exempt from top ten finish last year on The MENA Tour.  The competition held a field of 130 players.  After 4 rounds, the top 60 players were cut to play the fifth and final round (The cut mark was +2,which showed how difficult the course was). From the final round the top 30 players earned their Sunshine Tour card (full rights to play on the Sunshine Tour).

I don’t know if I was just tournament rusty or I just didn’t bring my A game. I felt like I couldn’t get anything going all week, no long putts, lots of silly drop shot. I posted rounds of 72 74 70 72 to sit at level Par and comfortably making the top 60 cut mark which was an achievement in itself.  For each round I was comfortably under par before the leaky shots came in.

The Firethorn course at Randpark has a strong finish only for the bold.  16 is a 440m (490yard) par 4 dogleg requiring a pinpoint driver off the tee to miss the deep fairway bunker, the water hazard on the left and the chip out trees that line the rough. The green had 5 little tiers for tricky pin positions without the hassle of trying to avoid the penal grenade traps and the luring water hazard protecting the opening to the green.  The 17th hole was a daunting 230m par 3 with no real bail out, the water hazard on the left made going for the tucked pins not for the fait hearted. Five 3’s on here for the week and your picking up at least 3 shots on the field.  18 used to be a par 5, but now changed to a beast of a par 4, a 450m dogleg up a steep hill treelined with a hazard running through the middle of the fairway forcing you to a hit a 3 wood off the tee. Guts and bottle to pull off a strong finish over these last 3 holes would prove beneficial for the week.  Luckily for me I chipped in on my 4th round for a cheeky birdie to close out on a high!

Back to my tournament, I knew going into the last round I needed a low one as I was 4 shots off 30th place, I felt like I had it in me as I stayed patient the first 4 rounds, trying not to do anything stupid but also not needing to do anything spectacular. They put a few tees forward inviting the tee shots but they tucked the pins in smelly sucker spots, I knew I couldn’t be super aggressive at the flags as they were so protected if I short sided myself, its minimum bogey, so I played steady golf, give my self chances in the hope I hole a few putts and post the low number I needed.
I shot 71 (-1) for the day and -1 for the tournament to sit 43rd, 4 shots back from the Top 30 mark. Completely gutted, I had put so much work and effort into this tournament as I really wanted the sunshine tour card but it just wasn’t meant to be this year. Taking the positives my first tournament of the year I finished under par around a difficult golf course, and that was just with my C game!! As I missed the Sunshine tour card, I gained a Big easy Tour card (a feeder tour) however the prize money on this tour is so low its just not feasible to play any tournaments. I’ll have to wait until next year!!

My room mate for the week had a stormer! he was -16 for the week and finished 4th to comfortably pick up a tour card.  I’m super chuffed for him as he’s a top lad and a great player.  If your interested in following his progress his name is Scott Campbell.


So whats next?

The dates for PGA Tour china School are not exact but will be held mid April so I’ll be working away with the aim for a tour card there!

I spent a lot of time on my own the past few weeks and I’m always trying to come up with new ideas and initiatives to boost my golfing career, especially the financial side of things.  My friend from The Mena Tour mentioned that he crowd funds for most of his money to pay for the year and that got me thinking.  What could I do that to get  people that are interesting in following my progress to get involved without the heavy cost of sponsorship or my shareholders scheme.  Simple. Flip it on the upside, affordable cost donations in high volume!  And Joe’s Birdie Club is born!

Aside the motivation to make as many birdies as possible, it takes the financial pressure off during tournaments, especially coming towards the end of the year when the funds may be low.

The birdie club will be up and kicking for my next tournament!  I hate the word invoice especially when people are donating to my cause, but this is the only way I can keep on top of the donations. More information will follow on the process of donations.

I’d love to hear back from you on your thoughts so please comment below regarding this new money raising venture

You’ll read this a lot this year, but thank you again for all your support. I truly truly appreciate it, as cliche as it sounds, without you I wouldn’t be able to do what I do!

Until next time


P.S. I’ll be getting a haircut when Im home 😀