Emilio Cuartero Blanco and Hurly Long took some time away from the golf course on Tuesday to go in search of the Big Five at Botlierskop Private Game Reserve.
The duo will tee it up in the final event of the South African Swing this week – the Dimension Data Pro-Am – but decided to put the clubs away for the afternoon to head into the bushveld and view some of the world’s most beautiful animals in their natural habitat.
Botlierskop Private Game Reserve contains four of the Big Five – lions, rhinos, buffalo and elephants - with the only absentee the leopard, and Cuartero Blanco and Long set their sights on the remaining four, much to their amazement.
“That was pretty cool, man,” Long said. “It was a pretty cool experience for sure. I’ve never been on a safari before so it’s awesome to come out here and do something different. I’ve been out here for a while now – over a month – so to do a safari is pretty good.
“I came down here for the SA Open then I came to Fancourt to practice for a week, so that was pretty cool. Then I played the first two events and now it’s the Dimension Data. This place looks incredible and it’s going to be fun.
“I didn’t know they had four of the Big Five here, so it was cool to see that. It was awesome and you can get really close. They’re tame, they’re really nice, so there’s nothing to worry about. It’s just raw nature and it’s pretty special.”
Spaniard Cuartero Blanco has been on safari previously but jumped at the opportunity to join Long in the African bush.
“I’ve done two safaris in Kenya and one here,” he said. “This was nice. I didn’t think they had a safari so close to George and we got to see rhinos, giraffes – I’ve never seen giraffes that close – that was cool, they’re so tall. And we also saw lions; they were hiding, but that was a fun experience.
“I like the combination of the Challenge Tour and the Sunshine Tour, it’s a good friendship.
“The better you disconnect from golf, the better you will connect afterwards. You’re always thinking ‘golf, golf, golf’ so this afternoon I’ve just forgotten about my swing for three hours, it’s great.”