For Hennie Otto, the Sunshine Tourâ€™s new Rise-Up Series is deeply personal.
When the three-time European Tour champion tees it up at Glendower Golf Club on Wednesday for the start of this weekâ€™s African Bank Sunshine Tour Championship, he will do so as a golfer rising up and looking for the next win in his career, as a husband rising up from the recent passing of his wife, and as a father rising up for his two young boys.
â€œItâ€™s been tough. Itâ€™s hard losing your wife. But you know, you canâ€™t sit still. You have to move on,â€ says Otto.
He took his sons, Hennie Jnr. and JJ, on a 4Â 500-kilometre road trip around South Africa for the three of them to deal with the loss. â€œWe visited all our friends on farms. We needed that, just to get away. It was nice for us to bond like that, and the boys are in a good space now.â€
And at the end of that epic journey, they have arrived at a new adventure. A new beginning. â€œWeâ€™re moving to Paarl because I have a great support system there with my family. The boys are in good schools there, and I can focus on my golf.â€
The focus this week will be on a Glendower Golf Club course that has always been one of Ottoâ€™s favourites. He finished second in the South African Open played here in 2013, and also second in the BMG Classic that same year.
â€œItâ€™s an old-style golf course and I always just get a great feeling playing there. You have to actually play that golf course and think your way around it, you canâ€™t just bomb it off the tee. If you can get it going there, you can score really well.â€
There will be an added incentive for Otto this week. His eldest son Hennie Jnr. will be on his bag caddying for the old man.
â€œHe is a diabetic and our doctor advised me not to send him back to school because of the Coronavirus. So heâ€™s doing online schooling but also traveling with me and caddying for me on this Rise-Up Series.â€
And every evening, they will braai together. â€œYou know me. Every night is braai night for me. Itâ€™s like I always have a fire on, I just add more wood every night and keep it going.â€