Gary Player's perseverance, Hasso Plattner's chequebook


Like every successful project, the Presidents Cup didn't just happen. The hand of South African golfing great Gary Player was evident all over.

Son Marc mentioned that Player needed every bit of his famed tenacity to bring the event to fruition: "He fought pretty much everyone you could imagine to get it here. You have no idea the obstacles he had to get past. In the end it was only my Dad's perseverance and Hasso Plattner's chequebook that made it happen."

Plattner, the fabulously wealthy co-founder and until recently chairman of global software group SAP (named for wife Sabina Ann, who lives permanently in SA nowadays), is turning out to be a fabulous friend for the country.

He has an affinity for the Southern Cape Coast shared by so many Germans. As a nation, they are comfortably the biggest investors in the region, having bought billions of rands worth of property and holiday homes in the region's seemingly ever growing plethora of golf estates.

None more so than Plattner. Apart from the hundreds of millions pumped into the Fancourt Estate, the stretch of manicured fairways and greens where Ernie Els and Tiger Woods went head-to-head on that memorable Sunday cost a cool R100-million. Acknowledged as the toughest test of golf in the country and simply called The Links, its Scottish seaside appearance was shaped from a flat piece of marshland by ubiquitous Gary Player's golf course development company.

The local newspaper reckons the Presidents Cup directly injected over $25-million into the Southern Cape region. The prestigious golf course is sure to bring in a lot more in the years ahead as The Links will be one of the most exclusive stretches of real estate in the world, becoming primarily a members-only club.

An up-front membership fee of US$70 000 plus a further $5 000 annual subscription puts The Links out of reach of your garden variety hacker. Even then, wealth is no guarantee, as prospective members need to be personally invited by Plattner. To date there are 24 members. Although the list is not public, one can safely assume the bulk are globally influential persons who might otherwise never visit the South African shores.

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