In die skroewe met Riaan Gerber

In conversation with Arne Cederval

There is always lots of fun and banter around when Arne Cederval is part of a golfing group. Arne has seen and experience a lot of the golfing world. He was Jean Hugo's caddie in 1999 in Europe and was the producer of a famous video about Jean's exploits in Europe. Arne has also served for many years as a panelist on Golf Digest Top 100 Courses of South Africa. Herewith my interview with him:

QUESTION:  What school did you attend? 

CEDERVAL:  Diocesan College (Bishops)

QUESTION:  Your favourite sport activities at school? 

CEDERVAL: Rugby (except when we played PRG!)

QUESTION:  How did you start playing golf and at what age? 

CEDERVAL:  I think I played my fist 9 holes with my mum when I was 13 at SGC. Started playing seriously when I was about 19 though..

QUESTION:  Did you teach yourself to play golf or did you take some lessons? 

CEDERVAL: Muss Gammon gave me a golf lesson back in the day but no coaching since then…although Philip Sanderson is always very forthcoming with advice…!

QUESTION: As an accomplished golfer – did you play in many open tournaments in your “younger days”? 

CEDERVAL:  I’m still young Riaan!! I played a few Opens and League back in the day.  When I was in the States working I had this pipe dream of qualifying for the US Mid-Amateur. The qualifying in Atlanta was on the 10th of September score would have made headlines the next day for the wrong reasons but something else happened.

QUESTION:  Achievements in tournaments that stand out? 

CEDERVAL: My performances in the opens were pretty poor, but I did finish 17th in the WP Strokeplay one year at Strand. (sporting shock of the year!) I came 3rd in Club Champs one year but there was no Swingfit Academy then…

QUESTION: You were Jean Hugo’s caddie in his early days as a professional golfer – how did you and Jean meet up? 

CEDERVAL: Probably in De Akker…

QUESTION:  You must have had a lot of fun with Jean on his overseas trip to Europe? 

CEDERVAL:  I think the most fun we had was in London on the weekends he missed the cut!… But no seriously, we had great times together, especially at the early Tour Schools in Spain when we would share accommodation with Trevor Immelman , Hennie Walters and other SA Pro's. We would cycle to the ‘Supermarcado’ to get food and everyone would have a chance to cook…or try at least. Nobody had money then and it was like a family trying to get through the week together…much hilarity and great memories.

QUESTION:  Tell us more about that “famous” video about Jean that was screened on TV? 

CEDERVAL:  Ja, Ernie Els loved that video!!…basically Sue Quirk asked me to do a ‘behind the scenes’ video for Dale Hayes’s Pitch and Putter show when Jean qualified out of nowhere for the Open in ’99 (Carnoustie)…let’s just say we had more fun with the camera off the course than around it…Sue said she was delighted with such ‘raw footage’ but had to edit it quite a lot…especially the scenes with the Scottish Barmaids! (all innocent btw)…I think she was also happy to get that camera back..!!

QUESTION:  When did you join the Stellenbosch Golf Club? 

CEDERVAL:  Sjoe, can’t remember. I know I played League in 97 or so after leaving Maties so probably then…

QUESTION:  Who are your most formidable opponents currently at the Stellenbosch Golf Club – and why are they so tough competitors? 

CEDERVAL:  The Laubscher brothers are my long-time partners and opponents… I usually partner with Attie against Christiaan and some Ringer. Attie does not like to lose to his younger brother so he brings the A game every now and then. Christiaan’s handicap has recently been ‘going north’ which will make him even tougher to beat. I gave him a driver shaft recently which he is hammering miles down the fairway…really annoying!

QUESTION:  You often have a new driver in your bag.  Do you enjoy trying out new equipment? 

CEDERVAL:  Ha! Yes, I think at one stage the staff at the Pro Shop would run and hide when I came in…being playing with a Ping G400 for a while now and going well…but Niewoudt Heerschap always gets me going on equipment so not sure how long it will last..

QUESTION:  A couple of years ago yourself and Shane Jackson won the Better Ball Medal Competition with a great score of 58 – what was the stand-out moments of that day for you? 

CEDERVAL:  Probably Shane Jackson!

QUESTION: Which is your favourite par 4 hole at the Stellenbosch course? 

CEDERVAL: The 1’st has become really tough and requires two good shots now…I like it at an opening hole as it demands your attention straight up.

QUESTION:  With a number of Classic Tournaments (Ceres Classic, Eikestad Classic and Walker Bay Classic) around the  corner - do you feel your handicap and game in general is in good shape to finally capture that "elusive major"? 

CEDERVAL: Ha-ha! Yes, I think it’s also a function of my partners handicaps as well…would love to win just one ‘major’... Played the Eikestad last year for the first time in quite a while…was delighted to see how well run it is.

QUESTION: Current handicap?

CEDERVAL: 5.2 index…but no ‘links golf’ this year of course..

QUESTION:  Lowest handicap ever? 

CEDERVAL: 2 I think

QUESTION:  Lowest gross score at Stellenbosch? 

CEDERVAL: 69 (par 74)

QUESTION:  Lowest gross score at another course? 

CEDERVAL: 69 (Erinvale)

QUESTION:  Have you made a hole in one?  

CEDERVAL: Yes on the 9th at Devonvale during the United Church Golf Day. Hansie Van Niekerk made me wear a ridiculous cap at the Knorhoek Prize giving that evening..!

QUESTION:  What are your thoughts on the new handicapping and course rating system? As a seasoned golf traveller, are you happy with the impact of the new system on your handicap in relation to your annual rounds in the British Isles? 

CEDERVAL: Ha! I can see Jahndre has helped you with some of these questions. Look... links golf in the UK is tough and conditions sometimes brutaI! I get the rationale around the new handicap system, low handicap vs high handicap etc. but I think too much emphasis is placed on distance..I could be wrong but I think 3 of Erinvale's par 5’s are strokes 1 , 3 and 4… this does not make sense when you have holes there like the tough par 4  17th at stroke 5 or something…

QUESTION:  As a previous long time member of the Golf Digest course rating panel, where would you currently rate Stellenbosch GC in the top 100 in SA?  

CEDERVAL: I think the course changed fundamentally when we lost the trees in that big storm a number of years back. You can now get away with errant tee shots quite easily whereas in years past Stellenbosch required accuracy to score. A fellow panelist suggested that we should think about landscaping shrub covered mounds between certain holes. This  could be done at relatively low cost as it requires little maintenance and might afford better definition between holes as well as penalising those wayward tee shots. That said the course is consistently in good condition and remains one of the great courses in SA.

QUESTION:  I understand you are also a very accomplished surfer even though starting at a very late age - what is currently more satisfying to you: ripping a nice cut-back in the waves at Strand, or ripping a drive over 230 m? 

CEDERVAL: Ha! Starting at the age of 42 I think my surfing handicap is around 18 still, but I love it. Ten-time World Surf Champion Kelly Slater says the perfectly struck golf shot is the only thing that comes close to the perfect wave…and he should know!

QUESTION:  Golf as a sport – what does it mean to you as a person? 

CEDERVAL:  Golf has given me people in my life I otherwise would probably not have had, I am grateful for that.