Editor’s note: John Peterson, the 2011 NCAA champion, is blogging for Golfweek.com from this week’s Africa Open in South Africa, where he is making his European Tour debut. Peterson turned pro in September 2011 and is trying to assemble a schedule with no status on any tour. The LSU alum turned down tickets to watch his alma mater play the BCS Championship Game in order to play this week.
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I would have had some info earlier in the week but due to my over-Americanization I couldn’t figure out how to communicate with people outside of South Africa. This is my first time playing outside North America. I needed a few days to get used to the culture. Talk about different from Baton Rouge or Fort Worth!
After a 15-hour flight, Scott Pinckney (a former Arizona State player who recently earned his European Tour card) and I raced through the Joburg airport to make our next flight, to East London, South Africa. Our clubs did not make the connection to East London on Sunday, but fortunately South Africa Airways was able to get them to us on the first flight Monday morning in time for a practice round. When we got to East London we had a 45-minute shuttle ride to the hotel.
Since it was New Year’s and the mood was festive, people came out from every little village and town to East London to celebrate. It obviously was not our shuttle driver’s first rodeo, as he plowed through the crowd, missing people by millimeters, literally. Scott and I could not believe how close he was coming to these people. I don’t know how he kept both rear-view mirrors. It was similar to navigating a bus down Bourbon Street at 20 mph during Mardi Gras. Impressive stuff to say the least.
This place is awesome. With my background in golf and hunting, I can’t ask for much more. There are Springbok (a type of antelope) walking around the course and monkeys hanging from the trees. I learned about the monkeys after a few off-line tee shots. The monkeys will get very close to you, I mean VERY close. They will literally walk to within 5 feet and look you right in the eye as if you owe them something, and if you have anything in your hand, you better hand it over. Just hope it’s not your passport. My caddy’s name is “MacMillan”, but I call him Mac. He is from Johannesburg and speaks 9 languages, none of which he went to school for. Take that Rosetta Stone! He is married with two kids and is a full-time caddy in Joburg.
The caddies over here really appreciate the business and love it when Americans come over to play the Africa Open. Well, that’s about all I have for now. Time to go get the body moving and get a good day of work in before the first round tomorrow. Very thankful of the opportunity and will make the most of it! Geaux Tigers January 9th!