Only 20 four-balls will be in contention when the first Golf Day Challenge goes ahead at the Par 72 Peter Matkovich Championship Arabella Golf Course for the Els for Autism (E4A) Foundation, which is raising funds for a learning centre in this country.
The E4A Challenge takes place at the Arabella Hotel & Spa on May 3, following the multi-million dollar success of a host of previous events in the United States, where Els and his wife Liezl launched the E4A Foundation in 2009 after his only son Ben was diagnosed with Autism.
“We'd suspected for a few years that something was wrong. I mean, there's a process that every kid goes through. Crawl at nine months, walk at 12 months, and then start talking and so on. With Ben we started thinking: ‘Why is he not crawling? Why is he not walking? Why is he not looking me in the eye?' Things like that,” said Els.
“One in 110 children is affected by Autism and that was perhaps the most shocking thing about all of this; the number of people it affects. It hits the whole family hard. For a long time you are trying to figure out ‘What just happened to my life?' You feel sorry for yourself and for your kid and for your family. And the tragedy is that even in this day and age, the kid who has Autism is often forgotten about. The feeling is that he's almost a waste of time, which says a lot more about society than it does the child. It's heartbreaking.”
The cost per four-ball at Arabella Hotel & Spa’s E4A Challenge is a mere R3 600, which includes arrival snacks, 18 holes, a golf cart, halfway house meal and a cocktail dinner. There will also be a silent auction on the day for a host of exclusive items and it’s hoped South Africa’s Blue Chip corporates will be challenging each other on the course and with the silent auction to raise as much money as possible for the E4A SA computer learning centre, said Protea Hospitality Group Marketing and Advertising Manager Nicholas Barenblatt.
“We are looking forward to making this an annual event and we believe the staggeringly beautiful course at the deluxe Arabella Hotel & Spa will do the E4A Challenge proud,” said Barenblatt. “The Peter Matkovich Championship Arabella Golf Course has earned respect from the world’s finest golfers and has consistently been ranked as one of the top 5 courses in South Africa. The 8th hole has been described as one of the most beautiful par 5s in the country, and the 18th has been rated one of the finest finishing holes as well.”
The Arabella Hotel & Spa, managed by African Pride Hotels, is situated just over an hour's drive from Cape Town on the outskirts of SA’s whale-watching capital, Hermanus. The area is also famous for Great White Shark cage diving, and for its pristine fynbos in the Unesco-registered Koegelberg Biosphere Reserve.