At the age of 22, Brandon Stone is living the dream. He’s a European Tour winner. He has a new car. He’s gone from a “whipper-snapper” to a household name. But there is one thing he would still dearly like to have.
Michael Vlismas – “I hope one day I can get the chance to put my name to a tournament on the Glacier Junior Series,” Stone said as he reflected this week on how the country’s biggest junior golf series has helped to shape his career.
The Glacier Junior Series teed off in 2010 and is defined by South Africa’s leading professional golfers such as Ernie Els, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace, George Coetzee and others who support the series by putting their names to tournaments and, where possible, making an appearance at the events.
This year’s series tees off at Benoni Country Club this Sunday. At the same time, Stone may find himself challenging for a second European Tour title in the Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club.
So too may Haydn Porteous, who is also a product of the Glacier Junior Series. Add fellow professionals Zander Lombard and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, the new “Young Big 4” of South African golf who all honed their skills on this popular series.
“I can clearly remember playing the Glacier Junior Series National Final one year with Haydn. JC Ritchie was in our final group and he ended up winning it. As the champion he earned an invitation to the Junior Orange Bowl International Championship in America and it boosted his career. Now he’s a pro golfer on the Sunshine Tour. Haydn, JC and myself were talking about it just this week.
“There is such a big crop of young players coming through now and there’s no question that the Glacier Junior Series is opening a lot of doors for a lot of young players. As a young golfer that’s what you’re looking for – opportunities. The series is just another great opportunity for our young golfers to launch their careers.”
Porteous echoed Stone’s sentiments.
“The Glacier Junior Series gave me an opportunity to play in America at the Orange Bowl and see what the best juniors in the world are like. It made me realise that the level of golf internationally was not that much better than what we were playing. It was such an important learning curve for me. It’s just one of many great foundations we have in South Africa and which gives us loads of stepping stones.
“I reached number one as a junior, then you set your sights on becoming number one amateur in the country. Then you want to become the number one professional on the Sunshine Tour and you move to the European Tour and hopefully the PGA Tour. As a junior golfer the Glacier Junior Series is that first step that allows you to plot your career going forward.”
This year’s Glacier Junior Series features 16 tournaments played nationwide, with the A Division winners of each qualifying for the National Final.
2016 Glacier Junior Series Schedule
DATE VENUE Entries open on:
Sunday, 14 February Benoni Country Club
Sunday, 13 March Mowbray Golf Club
Sunday, 20 March Umhlali Country Club
Monday, 4 April Royal Cape Golf Club
Sunday, 17 April Zwartkop Country Club
Sunday, 24 April Country Club Johannesburg
Sunday, 8 May Humewood Golf Club
Sunday, 15 May Bloemfontein Golf Club
Sunday, 29 May The Els Club Copperleaf
Sunday, 5 June Middelburg Country Club
Sunday, 26 June Germiston Country Club
Tuesday, 28 June Stellenbosch Golf Club
Saturday, 23 July The Links at Fancourt
Sunday, 7 August Houghton Golf Club
Sunday, 14 August Pretoria Country Club
Sunday, 18 September Paarl Golf Club