The South African Open Championship is one of the oldest national open golf championships in the world, and is one of the principal tournaments on the Sunshine Tour. Since 1997 it has also been co-sanctioned by the European Tour. As the flagship event on the Sunshine Tour, the tournament also receives special status from the Official World Golf Ranking, with the winner being guaranteed a minimum of 32 points regardless of the strength of the field.
The first formal event was organised in 1903, following a series of exhibition matches that had been held over the preceding ten years. The championship was initially contested over just 36 holes until 1908, when it was extended to become a 72 hole tournament. Although non-whites had played in the South African Open before, most notably when Papwa Sewgolum finished second in 1963, it was not until 1972 that black golfers were allowed to compete.