When MJ Viljoen tees it up in this weekâ€™s Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Sishen Golf Club, it will take him back to memories of being a young boy and watching the Sunshine Tour professionals in this exact tournament, and standing at the back of the 18th green asking for golf balls as they came off.
Such is the long and illustrious history of the Vodacom Origins of Golf series, which teed off on the Tour in 2004, that a 26-year-old professional like Viljoen has literally grown up with it.
Growing up in Bloemfontein, Viljoen remembers well that whenever the Sunshine Tour came to this part of the world for the Vodacom Origins of Golf, it was a special occasion for an aspiring young golfer.
â€œMy dad was very involved with the Nomads, and with this tournament in particular my dad actually took me out of school to come and watch this tournament and help with the leaderboard scoring,â€ Viljoen said at Sishen Golf Club on Tuesday.
â€œI was that young boy who asked for golf balls from the professionals. I remember Doug McGuigan, Des Terblanche and Hennie Otto giving me golf balls. It was always great for me to come to this event and see the Sunshine Tour pros.
â€œAnd now to be playing with many of them is amazing. Itâ€™s quite special to know that this tournament has come so far, and that Iâ€™m now playing with the guys who used to give me golf balls when I was a kid coming to watch.â€
Viljoen is hoping to use some of his local knowledge to give him an advantage this week when the 54-hole tournament tees off on Thursday.
â€œItâ€™s a beautiful golf course. Itâ€™s a different layout to your standard golf course. One of the most interesting things about this course is that if you hit a tree here (the course meanders through what was once a kameeldoring forest) the chances of your ball staying in the tree is good.
â€œThis course is quite demanding off the tee box. But my feeling is that you should still take it on off the tee box. Youâ€™re going to hit the ball in trouble a few times this week, but I feel like you need to still take this course on a bit. I feel if youâ€™re too soft on the course itâ€™s going to cost you even more.â€ – Michael Vlismas
Photo: Tyrone Winfield/Sunshine Tour