By Quintin van Jaarsveld
In a fashion befitting his great stature, Margate Country Club on Saturday hosted a tournament to celebrate Ivan Curlewis’s 50th year as a member of the club.
The respect for the man and his peerless accomplishments, a record 34 club titles topping the list, was evident in the number of golfers who celebrated Curlewis’s monumental milestone with him on the day.
Jaco van der Walt and Theuns Esterhuizen won the betterball stableford competition, which had an interesting twist (the betterball score was deleted on two holes), but the day belonged to Curlewis.
A former Champion of Champions, a staple in KwaZulu-Natal and South African Country Districts teams, a former KwaZulu-Natal Golf Union president and a former South African Golf Association executive, Curlewis has made an indelible mark on the game on and off the course.
Indeed, if there existed a Margate Country Club Hall of Fame, Curlewis wouldn’t just be in it, he’d have his own wing.
“It was a great day,” Curlewis told eHowz!t.
“It was a bit emotional, hearing all the kind words. I didn’t expect such a big thing but it was special and I’m very appreciative.”
Explaining what sets the club apart and the main reason behind his unrivalled devotion, Curlewis said: “The main reason why I’m still with the club is the members.
“The members over the years have been fantastic and it’s one of the most sociable clubs around, no doubt about it.”
Reflecting on his half-century as a club member, Curlewis said the highlight wasn’t a single moment but rather the profound and ongoing evolution of the club.
“The changes I’ve seen to the course over the years stands out, starting out from a nine-hole course with an airport in the middle to how it’s transformed into the course it is today.
“The course and the club can hold its head up high.”
So, too, can Curlewis, says Margate Country Club chairman John Webster.
“He’s a lighthouse as far as Margate Country Club is concerned,” said Webster.
“I don’t think there’s another club in the country that’s been represented by someone like Ivan, therefore it’s an absolute privilege to have him in the club.
“He’s not only a great benefit to the club and golfing community but to the town of Margate as well.
“It was a privilege for me to thank him and to have done the presentations on the day. It was a special day all-round.”
Webster added that Curlewis’s lasting legacy is assured.
“He’s the club’s longest-serving member, he’s the longest-serving chairman and he’s the longest-serving champion, no-one is likely to ever win as many championships as him.
“There’s not much left for him to do.”
Margate Country Club manager Dereck Hirson commented: “Ivan is an inspiration to all club members by showing loyalty to one club and I am proud that it is Margate Country Club.
“Having being associated with Ivan for the last four years, it is also easy to ask his advice and he provides valuable input at our meetings with his expertise in golf-related matters.
“I am very honoured to work alongside Ivan and hope that we will enjoy that working relationship for many more years to come.”
Allan Halvorsen and Pops Harrison were the runners-up on the day on 44 points, with Maureen Ogilvie and Joan Minnaar counting out Anton Kohrmann and Deon Meyer and Ronnie Mtshaka and Koko Zithumane for third place on 42 points.
The nearest to pin prizes were snapped up by Theuns Esterhuizen (2nd), Dave Morrison (4th), Heber de Beer (in two on 7th), Vusi Mathumulo (8th), Marius Visser (11th) and Fanie Terblanche (16th).
Dave Jenkinson and Louis Carriera won the longest drive prize.
Watch Bev Bisset’s interview with Curlewis below
Thursday’s individual stableford sponsored by Margate Pro Shop was won by Mike Bownes on 41 points.
Gary Smith was second on 39 points and won the nearest to pin prize on the 16th sponsored by Hibiscus Retirement Villages, Sandi Byran was third on 38 points and Johan Stoltz was fourth on 37 points.
Wednesday’s wobblers threeball alliance went the way of Roy Knight, Leon Meintjies and Claude Swanepoel on 84 points.
Runners-up Otto Mutschler, James Tott and Jonny Els were one point back with Tony Peace, Dave Boyd and Rob McGill third on 81 points.
The Arthur Tomlinson Floater went to Konnie Konrad, John Lewis and Piet Pretorius on 65 points.