Leopard Creek. The R&A

The inaugural African Amateur Championship will be hosted by Leopard Creek in South Africa next year, the R&A has announced.

Scheduled for February 21-24, the event is sure to attract the top amateurs from across Africa in the 72-man field as the winner will receive a spot at the 152nd Open at Royal Troon.

An invitational event for 20 elite women from the region will also be held at the venue during the week.

The introduction of the new championship complements existing amateur championships jointly organised by The R&A in Asia-Pacific and Latin America and will enable players from Africa to play at the highest level.

Martin Slumbers, CEO of The R&A, said: “We are creating a world-class platform for the most talented amateur golfers in Africa to compete against each other and realise their ambitions in the sport.

“We have already seen talented players emerge from the continent with three recent winners of The Amateur Championship, including Christo Lamprecht at Hillside last month, and hope that in the years to come we will see golfers follow in the footsteps of Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Nick Price, Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen and Ashleigh Buhai who have won The Open and AIG Women’s Open.

“We would also like to acknowledge the tremendous support received from Mr Johann Rupert, who is a committed and passionate partner in this new championship. We will be working closely with the Africa Golf Confederation, Golf RSA and the Sunshine Tour as well as the national associations in the continent to make this a success alongside our amateur championships in Asia-Pacific and Latin America.”

Leopard Creek has hosted the Alfred Dunhill Championship since 2004 and winners there include major champions such as Els and Charl Schwartzel, who has won the event three times at the venue.