Abt appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour

The Sunshine Tour (Southern Africa PGA Tour) announced at its AGM on Wednesday that respected tournament promoter Thomas Abt has been appointed as the new Deputy Commissioner of the Tour.

Selwyn Nathan, the Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour, said the new appointment formed part of the Tour’s succession plan, with Abt being groomed for the position of Commissioner.

Grant Wilson will remain as the Chief Operating Officer of the Sunshine Tour, while Linde Jooste will assume the role of Chief Financial Officer.

Abt brings with him a wealth of experience in professional tournament golf, having worked as a promoter on over 35 Sunshine Tour and European Tour co-sanctioned tournaments and more than 80 local Sunshine Tour events.

The announcement of his appointment has been widely welcomed by the Sunshine Tour Board of Directors, the Player’s Committee and the Tour’s main sponsors as conveying the right message of stability and growth that has made the Tour one of South Africa’s most successful sporting bodies.

“Thomas Abt has long been an integral part of the Sunshine Tour’s growth and success and we welcome him to this new role. Selwyn Nathan has spent several years mentoring Thomas as part of the Tour’s overall succession plan, and the Board of Directors believes he is the perfect candidate to build on the excellent growth the Tour has undergone under Selwyn’s leadership,” said Johann Rupert, Chairman of the Sunshine Tour.

Abt currently heads up the golf division at Flooid within SAIL Rights Commercialisation. He has been seconded to the Sunshine Tour and will spend the next two years working even more closely with Nathan, who thereafter will possibly remain on the Sunshine Tour Board of Directors as one of its longest standing members.

“I have been involved with the Sunshine Tour for over 50 years now. Finding a suitable successor has been a priority for us, and in Thomas I am pleased to say that we have somebody who comes from within our organisation, thereby ensuring the stability and strength in transition that has been a hallmark of the Sunshine Tour and our strong relationships with our major sponsors and global golf bodies,” said Nathan.

“Thomas has the respect of the Board, the players and our main sponsors, all of whom he has worked with closely over the years. He shares our culture and passion to see the Sunshine Tour remain one of the premier Tours in world golf. This and other changes within our structure are all designed to ensure an even stronger future for the Sunshine Tour.”

Since 2004 Abt has worked closely with the Sunshine Tour and Nathan in successfully delivering some of the country’s biggest tournaments, including playing a key role in the growth of the Joburg Open and AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open to becoming leading tri-sanctioned tournaments with the Sunshine Tour, European Tour and Asian Tour. Internationally, he has consulted for the Hero Indian Open as an Asian Tour and European Tour co-sanctioned event.

Abt has also been instrumental in the continued growth of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, the revitalisation project at Soweto Country Club, the evolution of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Tour as the joint largest series of tournaments on the Sunshine Tour, and the formation of the Gary Player Class which is the Sunshine Tour’s main development squad for historically disadvantaged professionals and which benefits from the longstanding support of the South African Golf Development Board (SAGDB), founded in 1999 by Johann Rupert as the official body for golf development in South Africa, as well as the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation (EEFF) in the collective effort to use golf to improve the lives of disadvantaged South Africans.

Oliver Bekker, Chairman of the Player’s Committee, said they were delighted to welcome Abt in this new role.

“Thomas has been a familiar face at Sunshine Tour events for many years now and the players have come to know him as somebody who cares deeply about the success of the Tour and who also understands intimately the world of professional golf. He cares about the needs of our members and is always willing to work together to achieve the best result for the players and the sponsors. We look forward to working even closer with him now.”

The Sunshine Tour also unveiled its new pledge at the AGM, and which was formally signed by the Board of Directors.

The pledge is based on the Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) pledge and reflects the Tour’s vision of being an organisation committed to the growth of the South African economy and Black Economic Transformation, to investing in local communities, and to actively guard against and combat corruption within the industry.

“We are the first sports organisation in South Africa to have a pledge that mirrors that of BUSA,” said Wilson.

“This follows the Sunshine Tour’s ongoing commitment to the highest ethical standards in South African business, and is also in line with the Tour’s longstanding record of successful transformation, from its close ties with the South African Golf Development Board as the official body of golf development in South Africa, to a dedicated transformation programme for historically disadvantaged professionals on the Sunshine Tour.

“As one of the most successful sporting bodies in South Africa, we are proud to represent sport and its contribution to the South African economy in this way.”

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