The Ernie Els Invitational is held each year in order to raise funds for the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation.
The event is a Pro Am being held from 15-18 December at Fancourt (above); sponsors and the Foundation members play on the Links with Ernie on Tuesday 15 and the actual Invitational is on Montagu and Outeniqua golf courses on 16-17 December. Other than Ernie himself, the event comprises several top Tour pros including Branden Grace, Thomas Aiken, Richard Sterne, Jbe Kruger and George Coetzee, while the celebrity line-up features AB de Villers, Dale Steyn, Morne & Albie Morkel, Graeme Smith, Mark Boucher, Pat Lambie, Alan Donald, Bob Skinstad and a host of others.
Major corporate sponsors have contributed to the success of the event and their teams comprise top SA opinion leaders and International businessmen. The event is a fourball alliance with the Tour pros playing a separate strokeplay competition; there are 34 fourballs in total. It’s a shotgun start each day, followed by a Pro Shootout and a Team Elimination Shootout, which is always exciting for all. Sasha Martinengo is our host auctioneer for Wednesday evenings’ auction where much memorabilia is auctioned off to keen bidders in support of the cause.
“The event is always an outstanding success because Fancourt’s golf courses and Fancourt itself are world class and, of course, Ernie is a great host and ensures everyone has a fantastic time for the right reasons,” says Annie Lawson, Event Manager for the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation.
The mission statement of the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation (EEFF) is: “To identify talented young South Africans of high-school going age predominantly from families of limited resources and provide them with educational assistance and playing opportunities in order to produce successful young leaders and golfers.” Among its former members are former Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen and multiple European Tour winner Branden Grace.
At present there are some 27 members of the Foundation, six of whom are girls. In addition to the coaching and schooling, the EEFF provides playing opportunities for the members by covering their travel and accommodation expenses in significant junior amateur events around the country.