"You feel the weight of history as you stand on the 1st tee; your legs start to quiver just a little as your eyes sweep over the hallowed turf, and all you hope for is that you’ll make solid contact with the ball and watch it sail down one of golf’s most famous fairways."

This was how 71-year-old engineering manager Jorge del Pozo (below) from The Lake Club Benoni Country Club described the experience of representing GolfRSA at the 2023 R&A 9 Hole Challenge at Royal Liverpool.

After the success of the inaugural GolfRSA Race to the R&A 9 Hole Challenge last year, club qualifying was introduced for this year’s series and the second GolfRSA Race to the R&A 9 Hole Challenge is in full swing at golf clubs across South Africa.

“The ultimate prize will once again be a trip of a lifetime for two golfers to tee it up at the R&A 9 Hole Challenge alongside golfers from the UK, Argentina, Australia, France and New Zealand, but with the qualifying this year the series has become more inclusive,” said GolfRSA project manager Paul Adams.

“The overall goal of the R&A 9 Hole Challenge is to increase the number of nine-hole rounds played and to provide clubs with an opportunity to use this competition to run more events and generate additional revenue for their facilities.


See what Del Pozo and Van der Ryst had to say before heading off to Royal Liverpool last year.

“We have had a wonderful response, with more than 150 clubs across South Africa participating, we are hitting the mark on both counts. What’s more, four sponsors – Coleman Camping Gear and Equipment, Anthonij Rupert Wyne Estate, Cleveland Golf South Africa and Adidas SA – have come on board this year, along with GolfRSA’s partner, The Courier Guy!

“Not only will our sponsors supply some incredible prizes for our Regional Final Lucky Draw in Cape Town on 10 April, but they have also provided us with phenomenal prizes for the National Final in May. And, as always, our partner – The Courier Guy SA – will ensure timeous delivery cross South Africa.”

GolfRSA CEO Grant Hepburn was equally as enthusiastic, saying: “I’m delighted to have such high-calibre sponsors partnering for this event, which created lifelong memories for last year’s winners who flew the flag for us at the final at Royal Liverpool.”

Willie van der Ryst, the other South African who qualified for the 2023 R&A 9 Hole Challenge Final at Royal Liverpool Golf Club before the 151st Open Championship described it as an experience of a lifetime.

“It’s tough to find the words to describe the experience; it was beyond my wildest dreams,” said the 23-year-old chemical engineering student, who not only earned himself a start at the memorable event, but also tickets to attend two of the practice rounds at The Open.

“It was awe-inspiring to arrive at Royal Liverpool and take in the set-up, the branding, the grandstands. You see it all on television, but nothing prepares you for the real thing. Jorge and I enjoyed The R&A 9 Hole Challenge and meeting the competitors from the other countries. Royal Liverpool is a tough course and the conditions were challenging, with a lot of wind and rain, but we would both do it again in a heartbeat given the chance.

“It was also incredible to be able to watch the best golfers in the world and all our South African players practise for The Open. I had to pinch myself a few times. The atmosphere on the 1st tee and on the 18th was absolutely electric. I am incredibly grateful to GolfRSA for the opportunity of a lifetime, and to The R&A for their wonderful hospitality.”

Del Pozo is a big supporter of the nine-hole format and was thrilled that GolfRSA is also participating in this initiative.

“The format is perfect for people who either don’t have the time to play or are no longer able to play a full 18 holes, and it’s wonderful for getting children on the golf course,” said the Benoni Lake member. “I play this format a lot but I never, ever expected to be one of the first winners. It was such an awesome experience, and being able to share it all with my wife was just amazing.”


The Amateur champion chats about a tournament to remember.