By Michael Vlismas
or Hennie Otto, the Sunshine Tour’s new Rise-Up Series is deeply personal.
When the three-time European Tour champion tees it up at Glendower Golf Club on Wednesday for the start of this week’s African Bank Sunshine Tour Championship, he will do so as a golfer rising up and looking for the next win in his career, as a husband rising up from the recent passing of his wife, and as a father rising up for his two young boys.
“It’s been tough. It’s hard losing your wife. But you know, you can’t sit still. You have to move on,” says Otto.
He took his sons, Hennie Jnr. and JJ, on a 4 500-kilometre road trip around South Africa for the three of them to deal with the loss. “We visited all our friends on farms. We needed that, just to get away. It was nice for us to bond like that, and the boys are in a good space now.”
And at the end of that epic journey, they have arrived at a new adventure. A new beginning. “We’re moving to Paarl because I have a great support system there with my family. The boys are in good schools there, and I can focus on my golf.”
The focus this week will be on a Glendower Golf Club course that has always been one of Otto’s favourites. He finished second in the South African Open played here in 2013, and also second in the BMG Classic that same year.
“It’s an old-style golf course and I always just get a great feeling playing there. You have to actually play that golf course and think your way around it, you can’t just bomb it off the tee. If you can get it going there, you can score really well.”
There will be an added incentive for Otto this week. His eldest son Hennie Jnr. will be on his bag caddying for the old man.
“He is a diabetic and our doctor advised me not to send him back to school because of the Coronavirus. So he’s doing online schooling but also traveling with me and caddying for me on this Rise-Up Series.”
And every evening, they will braai together. “You know me. Every night is braai night for me. It’s like I always have a fire on, I just add more wood every night and keep it going.”