The Mercedez-Benz Southern African Hall of Fame Induction Dinner was a special one for a lot of reasons but primarily because Simon Hobday was inducted. In typical Hobday tradition he got up to accept and his shirt was hanging out of his dinner suit trousers. Only Hobday can make a R5000 dinner suit look scruffy.
Peter Matkovich, who is a life-long friend of his, inducted Simon and he started his speech with; “Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy…” He’s right. Simon really deserves his place as he’s shown us so many of golf’s facets whether it be his achievements, disappointments or his tremendous skills. Most importantly though he’s shown us all that golf is fun and it should be played to be enjoyed!
Tony Johnstone was inducted by Gavan Levenson who introduced us to some of Tony’s nicknames, one of which was Termite. Gavan claimed he got the name for his determination but Simon Hobday quickly corrected him, saying that the name came from the fact that it took Tony so long between the time he teed the ball up and the time that he hit it that the white ants ate his tee.
Joe Dlamini was very emotional at his induction and claimed this was the best day of his life and Rae Hast was another deserving inductee. She was one of our top amateurs, then a top professional and is now one of South Africa’s top teachers. The final two inductees are no longer with us, Arthur Walker, a great amateur golfer from the fifties and Ruby Bright, perhaps South Africa’s first excellent lady golfer.
Peter Matkovich, Dale Hayes
and Simon Hobday
|Rae Hast||Joe Dlamini||Tony Johnstone and Gavan Levenson|
Tuesday 20 May. A lovely day dawned at Johannesburg Country Club with many golfing dignatories participating in the Mercedes-Benz Southern Africa Golf Hall of Fame Celebrity tournament including Rajen and Nisharlan Sewgolum ('Papwa's' son and grandson), Adam Hayes, Simon Hobday, Paul Friedlander, Tony Johnstone, Joe Dlamini, Gavin Levenson, and Denis Hutchinson, together with media personalities such as Dan Retief, Hugh Bladen, and Graeme Joffe.
Despite the weather closing in, the excitement was provided by Mercedes-Benz offering a top-of-the range Mercedes-Benz to anyone scoring a hole-in-one. There were smiles all round with everyone winning prizes.
The Induction Banquet was preceded by Louis Oosthuizen wine tasting, and followed by the Afro Tenors which got everyone into the mood.
Dale Hayes kicked off this black-tie proceedings attended by many dignitaries including the Swaziland Ambassador, various golf bodies, and those who had travelled from as far afield as Australia, England, Switzerland, Swaziland, and around South Africa to attend this prestigious occasion.
Peter Sauerman, South Africa's premier golf historian, proceeded to induct Ruby Bright, a four-time winner of the South African Amateur between 1909 - 1923, who was important insofar as she was the first winner and thereby inspired a nation of women to take up the sport of golf.
Denis Hutchinson then inducted Arthur Walker, who totally dominated South African amateur golf between 1956-59, winning the S.A. Amateur, Eisenhower team trophy, the English Amateur. and making the semi-finals of the British Amateur.
Stories were shared and the importance of the occasion was illustrated when Senator Mike Temple explained how a caddy, Joe Dlamini, was spotted, finally turning professional at 37,and inspiring a nation of Swaziland golfers, despite being disadvantaged by the Apartheid policies. A very gracious Joe Dlamini accepted this award saying "to be so honoured is the greatest day in my life".
Rae Hast then explained how being banned at the last minute from playing in the British Women's Amateur changed her life, as she immediately made a successful transition to the professional ranks winning on the European tour.
This was an occasion for old friend to meet and regale stories from yesteryear, whilst the Afro Tenors continued to entertain.
Hugh Herman of Investec then introduced Raymond Ackerman, winner of the 'Harry Brews' award for his "selfless contribution to the betterment, improvement and growth of the game of golf”, and where we heard about how, amongst other things, Ackerman fronted Prime Minister Vorster in January 1978, and obtained permission to open Clovelly Country Club to all races "as long as he did not shout it out to the public". This was the first chink in Apartheid policies where sport was concerned.
Ackerman, on behalf of Clovelly Country Club, then presented the South African Golf Museum with a framed set of Bobby Locke's original golf clubs
Then it was the turn of Nick Price and Mark McNulty to chat about Tony Johnstone, how Johnstone completely missed a putt in the World Cup, and how a ten year-old Price upon meeting an eleven year-old short Johnstone was informed that he was going to beat Price.
Finally, stories of how Simon Hobday's golf ball skipped through the water onto the green enabling him to win, which was followed by Hobday taking off his socks and shoes, and likewise trying to walk through the water before sinking. His greatest victory was yet to come when he won the 1994 US Seniors Open title.
Mercedes-Benz, the premier sponsor of this event, pulled off another wonderful evening with glitz and plenty of glamour, an event enjoyed by all!
For more pictures of the event, please view our Facebook Gallery.
Induction banquet sponsors