2008-01-09: Mayor Masondo welcomes top world golfers to Joburg
The Joburg Open has, within one year, become one of the top fixtures on both the European and South African golf circuits.
Speaking at the Mayoral Dinner on the eve of the second Joburg Open, Clr Amos Masondo, the Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, said the event has experienced "phenomenal growth. It has drawn and attracted a large number of professional golfers, sports administrators and stakeholders from numerous countries across the globe."
A field of 240 players from Europe and South Africa is competing for among the richest prize money in world golf in the four day event that takes place at both Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Clubs. This is up significantly from the 130 players who competed in the inaugural event in 2007.
Mayor Masondo said the Joburg Open is part of the city's efforts to position itself as "a global sporting destination of choice." The City will continue to broaden its involvement in a range of sporting codes including cricket, rugby, athletics, cycling and soccer.
One of the tangible spin-offs from the event is the establishment of a driving range and golfing academy in Northern Johannesburg. The new range is situated in Lombardy East, close to Alexandra.
Mayor Masondo on Monday (7 January) opened the first phase of the project which consists of tee boxes, distance markers, fairway bunkers and putting greens.
"We trust that the residents of the Greater Alexandra Township, the relatively new Tsutsumani area, Lombardy East and the other surrounding areas will be able to access and optimally use this facility," he said.
A golfing academy will soon be established at the facility. Apart from coaching and training in the techniques of golf, it will also include courses on course maintenance and grooming.
Mayor Masondo said a passion for golf is growing among all sectors of the South African population and events such as the Joburg Open helps to dispel the perception that it is a sport for the elite.
He called on visiting players and spectators to connect with their colleagues and friends overseas and to urge them to visit South Africa and Johannesburg in particular.