By Duncan Mlanjira
The main sponsor SeedCo Malawi has offered a cash purse of US$5,000 to the professional category of the forthcoming SeedCo Lilongwe Open golf tournament to be played from November 13-15.
The tournament is expected to attract a field of about 30 pros from Malawi and neighbouring Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
This is a second return of the SeedCo Lilongwe Open which also took place last year complemented by its business partners such as NBS Bank, Standard Bank, NICO, Toyota Malawi, FDH Bank amongst others.
This year SeedCo has decided to offer a new hope for the pros with an early Christmas gift of a US$5,000 prize money.
Professional Golfers Association of Malawi (PGAMW) President, General Henry Odillo Rtd was upbeat over the news, saying this incentive comes as a solace to the players who have been badly affected by the ban on tournaments due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Odillo said the tour will attract a minimum of 5 pros from Zambia, about 10 pros from Zimbabwe, 2 from Tanzania and one or two from South Africa.
Confirming the special sponsorship package, SeedCo Malawi’s Managing Director, Boyd Luwe said they thought of increasing the hype of their tournament this year through this initiative considering that pros’ earn their living through playing golf and hence their only source of income.
SeedCo Malawi Limited is a leading supplier of superior crop seeds of maize hybrid, soya beans, groundnuts, sugar beans and vegetables — produced from their own parent seed under contract by an established producer network with a vision, ‘To dominate agro-industry in Africa’ and mission, ‘We breed, feed and lead in Africa’.
“As an African company, we saw it fit to offer our golf professionals from the region a little something extra to compete for at this year’s SeedCo Lilongwe Open while paving way for other corporates to emulate the same in their future tournaments plans,” Luwe said.
“It should start with us the corporates to support our professionals by including them in our budgets if we are to grow the game.
“Companies have sponsored amateur golf in Malawi for years and it’s high time to go more international by sponsoring professional tours as well that will facilitate tourist’s traffic and thereby profiling Malawi on the international scene”, he said.
Lilongwe Golf Club captain, Thomas Chafunya said the 18-hole course is in fantastic condition in years and extra effort has been mad for the greens to be wider and much atoned.
“We look forward to host the second Seedco Lilongwe Open, which is one of the biggest tournaments on our calendar with international pros in attendance,” he said.
PGAMW vice-president Patridge Shycal said; Day 1 of the tournament will tee-off on 13th November from 11am with a combined field of pros and amateurs in Champion Division in a stroke-play format, while Day 2 and 3 will have the pros, Championship as well as Division A & B.
For many years, Malawian golfers have been playing as amateurs, a status that forbids them from receiving cash prizes in accordance to the Royal & Ancient (R&A) Golf Club Rule 3, sub-rule 2 Prize Limits — which says; “amateur golfer must not accept a prize (other than a symbolic prize) or prize voucher of retail value in excess of £500 or the equivalent, or such a lesser figure as may be decided by the governing body.
“This limit applies to the total prizes or prize vouchers received by an amateur golfer in any one competition or series of competitions except in hole-in-one prize where an amateur golfer may accept a prize in excess of the limit in Rule 3-2a, including a cash prize, for making a hole-in-one during a round of golf on a golf course,” says the rule.
PGAMW was then formed in a bid to help top notch golfers earn money from playing golf as it is done in world over.
PGAMW firstly hosted the Warm Heart Pros Tour two years ago which attracted over 70 professionals from over 8 countries and pledged to be hosting annually apart from other local mini-tournaments.
Meanwhile, PGAMW has signed a 3 years memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Wildlife on the hosting of the Warm Heart Pros Tour event.