For Banele Mavuso, December 2015 may well be remembered as the month in which he realised just how good he can be. The SAGDB's top player in Mpumalanga was named as the joint most valuable player in the B section at the 2015 South African Under-
Banele had an outstanding tournament, being one of only two players in the B section to remain unbeaten through the entire event. He won all six of his singles matches and teamed up with Brandon Esterhuizen to pick up 5½ out of a possible 6 points in the foursomes.
The only match that he and Brandon halved was also almost as good as a win. The pair was five five down after nine holes against North West, but staged an incredible fightback on the back nine to level the match at the 18th and secure the half point for their team.
“That was a highlight for me,” Banele said after the tournament. “It was incredible to stay undefeated the whole week.”
It is a rare feat for any player to go unbeaten through an IPT, and Banele's success was most notable for its consistency. He didn't record any notably big wins, but made sure he did enough in every game to stay ahead of his opponents.
“It was particularly challenging playing in wind conditions on the last day against Eastern Province – a team that is used to playing in the wind,” he said. “They didn't make mistakes because they are used to it, but I made mistakes by trying to hit the ball too low.”
Nevertheless, he persevered and scrapped out wins in both the foursomes and singles to help his team to the victory they needed to secure second place.
This tenacity is something that every great golfer needs, especially in matchplay format. Banele acknowledges that he learnt a lot from the experience.
“I learnt that in matchplay you have to be patient,” he said. “You have to play good golf and watch what your opponent is doing, because at the end of the day you are not playing the course, you are playing your opponent.”
Banele's success at the event also caught the eye of those responsible for picking Golf RSA's first national squad. Shortly after the event he was named as one of 15 juniors to be part of the 2016 squad that will receive specialised training and entry into a number of the top amateur events
around the country.