Golf Glamour at The Gary Player Invitational

South Africa’s premiere charity golf event The Gary Player International took place over the weekend and Chia Kougianos was there to bring you a behind the scenes look at what went on, check it out…

The Zimbali Coastal Resort played host this year and the elegant ensemble of high profile guests included the likes of Gary Player, PGA Tour and European Tour winner Jesper Parnevik, multiple Sunshine Tour winner James Kamte and rising Scottish star Carly Booth.

Also spotted in attendance were the likes of Paul Collingwood, Patricia Lewis, 5FM’s Gareth Cliff and Bad Boy T, Pierre Spies, Shaun Pollock, Elana Afrika and Lucas Radebe.

Bollywood diva and model Neha Dhupia also joined the all-star line-up of top professional golfers, sports and entertainment celebrities, as well as renowned International Rugby Board and 2012 World Cup Final referee Craig Joubert.

This year sees the 12th edition of the extraordinary event and after a day’s play the guests gathered for the Saturday evening party presented by SAP. South African rocker Johnny Clegg, The White Zulu, fired up the crowd and the party went on well into the night with dancing, carousing and tequila shots by the dozen. 

I was accompanied by my dear friend Carlyle Field who soon learnt to play celeb-spotter and cameraman when the opportunity for a social snap or interview arose and with the sportsmen-filled deck it was an endless playground. First on the list was Mr Gary Player himself who is a well deserved icon in the golfing world and has given of his time and talents to those less fortunate.

 “When you gather a group of people together that truly want to help those who need it most you end up with a fantastic event.  I can’t thank the players, our sponsors, our hosts and our Black Knight team enough.  This may have been our best event to date,” said a visibly moved and happy Gary Player.

The venue allowed for the invited guests to mingle on the gorgeous deck and sip cocktails in a truly seductive settings or find privacy in the dimly lit lounge indoors where the occasional snap of your camera (no flash, of course) might go unnoticed while enjoying a live set by 5FM DJ Gareth Cliff.

Whilst Legal Eagle was surveying the guests and celeb-spotting I began my own set of people-watching and discovered a guest who remained content enjoying a classic Scotch on the deck away from the chaos of the dancefloor and camera flashes by the stage. It was none other than Jesper Parnevik highly respected contestant on the PGA tour and probably best known for uttering the funniest quote on the Tiger Woods scandal.

The golfer who introduced Tiger to his wife, Elin Nordegren, who used to be Parnevik’s family nanny, hopes she “uses a driver next time instead of a 3 iron.”

The one-time matchmaker wasn’t in favour of Tiger’s behaviour and went on to deliver the now most-celebrated quote of the scandal “It’s a private thing of course, but when you are the guy he is, the world’s best athlete, you should think more before you do stuff … and maybe not ‘Just do it’, like Nike says.”

Parnevik, who is known for his penchant for eating volcano dust and wearing drainpipe trousers soon joined myself and Carlyle together with fellow golfer James Kamte and Carly Booth on the patio for a celebratory tequila shot.

Booth, dubbed Scotland’s answer to Michelle Wie, established her credentials as one of Britain’s rising stars when she became the youngest-ever player at 15 to represent Great Britain and Ireland in the Curtis Cup in 2008. Within a year the blonde beauty claimed another first as the youngest-ever Scot to qualify for the Ladies European Tour at just 17.

“It is not often that someone as young and unknown as me gets the chance to play with a legend like Gary Player, so there was no doubt in my mind what I would be doing this November,” she said.

Multiple Sunshine Tour winner James Kamte enjoyed the night’s festivities and became the life of the party entertaining us with stories of his travels and adventures overseas and becoming friends with Tiger Woods which was later proved by pinging the world-famous golfer on his Blackberry handset which perhaps is another story for another time!

Saturday night saw one of the most celebrated weekends in golfing circles with the close of the Gary Player International and allowed for invited guests to rub elbows with some of the country’s well-known personalities, jet-setting A-listers and the great sporting elite.

The weekend was a huge success raising over R2 million for underprivileged children in South Africa.

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