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Hail the Champions......Alana von Greuning, Nicole Garcia and Nicole Becker of South Africa
Hail the Champions......Alana von Greuning, Nicole Garcia and Nicole Becker of South Africa

So near yet so far aptly describes how local lady golfers and enthusiast felt when Team Zimbabwe painfully came second best to South Africa by two shots in the Regional All Africa Challenge Trophy (RAACT) that was played from Friday 1 to 3 July 2011 at Royal Harare Golf Club.

Zimbabwe had a one point lead going into the final round but was overtaken and lost by two shots to the pre-tournament favourites South Africa.

The girls from Mzanzi amassed 456 points to Zimbabwe’s 458 points. Namibia was third on 467 points while Botswana and Angola were placed fourth and fifth on 557 and 680 points respectively.

Team Zimbabwe made up of Claire Minter, Rumbi Masamvu and young Batsirai Tilowakuti gave it their all but could not better the recovery of South Africa.

The Zimbabwean edition of RAACT was sponsored by the R & A, Altfin Insurance, Rainbow Towers, Lufthansa, Delta, Cape Wines, Mr Juicy, The Cheeseman, Dandy Zimbabwe, Supreme Butchery, Village Pharmacy, Mike Garden ( Ndeipi Magazine), Chapman Driving Range, Sanitation Services, Echo Interior Gallery, Colleen Morgan, Emma French Collections, Sunspan Bananas, Rufaro and Christine Gunundu and Patrick Mavros amongst others.

The All Africa Challenge Trophy was inaugurated as a biennial event in 1992 and has grown to become the most prestigious Amateur Ladies golf event on the continent of Africa. For some time it was felt that Regional tournaments in the same format would benefit the players in their preparation for this key event, and eventually West Africa, under the guidance of their first Trustee Joy Arkutu, ran the first Regional in 2005.

The inaugural Southern Africa, Regional All Africa Challenge Trophy was held in Botswana in 2007 at the Phakalane Golf Estate, during which five countries took part in the Challenge being South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola, Swaziland and Botswana. East/Central Africa followed in 2009 in Kampala, and finally Northern Africa in Morocco in 2010.

From the beginning of the satellite events, the Regions were allowed to vary their event to suit their circumstances, within certain mandatory parameters, such as tournament format of strokeplay – gross scoring and 54 holes over three days. The National teams of three, play 54 holes of stroke play over three days, counting the scores of the best two players in each round to make the total.

Since the idea of Regional events, the Trustees have courted the Royal & Ancient of St Andrews (R & A) to aid the idea with finance. Since the R & A are the main financiers of the AACT they saw that it was in their interest to expand that event by encouraging regional events, which in turn now receive financial assistance from them.

The Southern Regional Tournament is also held biennially. Countries represented at the Southern region tournament are: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. It is hoped that other Southern African countries such as Mozambique, Lesotho, Madagascar and Mauritius will eventually be able to participate in this regional event, as their golfing infrastructures develop.

The Southern Africa Regional Trustee Nina Cloete from Botswana, represents the region on the All Africa Challenge Board of Trustees while the President of the Board of Trustees is Zimbabwe’s Tessa Covell, whose brain child is the All Africa Challenge Trophy.

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