Denis Hutchinson, the last man to win the South African Open Championship as an amateur, was honoured on his 80th birthday on Wednesday with honorary life membership of the Sunshine Tour.
‘Hutchie’, as he is affectionately known, won the South African Open in 1959 while still an amateur, and he went on to win the South African PGA Championship in 1970 and the Dunlop South African Masters three times. Outside of South Africa, he won the French Open in 1966.
At a golf day at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club to celebrate his birthday, Sunshine Tour executive director Selwyn Nathan announced the awarding of a category of membership usually reserved for South African golf’s major champions.
“The chairman and the members of the board of the Sunshine Tour agreed that ‘Hutchie’ has made such a significant contribution to the sport and to the well-being of the tour, that honorary life membership was an entirely appropriate way of recognising his contributions,” said Nathan.
His passion for the sport spills over into his inimitable television commentary at tournaments for local broadcaster SuperSport as well as his regular work for broadcasters on the European Tour, and he has come to be recognised as ‘the voice of golf’ in South Africa.
He is also honorary Life President of the PGA of South Africa, and he was honoured by the PGA of South Africa as one of its first five ‘Master Professionals’ in 2008 for having made significant contributions to the game, be it through successful playing careers, administration, teaching, retail or media.
His contribution to the Sunshine Tour reflects his lifelong passion for the game, and he joins major winner Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel as the third addition to the honorary membership ranks of the tour this year.