Par – 71
Rating – 71
Length – 6082m
Nelspruit Golf Club was founded in 1928 and moved to its present location in 1939. The bushveld course is a Bob Grimsdell design, built among rocky outcrops of land. It was a nine-hole layout for nearly 30 years before Grimsdell returned to complete a second nine in 1967-68. The course was left largely untouched until 1998, when Peter Matkovich upgraded the course and the adjacent Matumi Golf Estate was established.
It’s not long or overly difficult, but Nelspruit golf course has an unusual start in that the first is a par-4, the second a par-5, the third a par-3, the fourth a par-5 and the fifth a par-3, before closing off with four straight par-4s. “The first five holes are tricky, and you need to think your way around them,” says General Manager Ryk Lacock. The back nine, save for the two par-3s on 13 and 17, is either played uphill or downhill, with the feature hole being the 498-metre 14th, the only par-5 on the back nine. From an elevated tee, a generous tree-lined fairway runs away gradually to a green surrounded by bunkers. “Holes six to 11 offer birdie opportunities, whilst holes 12 to 18 are tougher, and you should be happy with pars and bogeys,” says Lacock. Tree and bird life are the other features of the course. Straddling the sixth and 18th fairways is the biggest fig tree you are ever likely to see. If your ball lands anywhere near it, there is little chance of going for either green in two. Many other indigenous trees line the fairways, with more than 50 species having been recorded. “I hit a long drive, which makes the course easier, but you do need to be in the fairway to give yourself a chance,” says Lacock. “Our greens are in very good condition and the short hitters can even stop the ball with a four-iron. December to February is very hot and the greens are slower, but they are at their best and quicker between May and August.”
The stroke one first is a tough par-4 measuring 433 metres. You have houses and out of bounds left and right. The average golfer, after a good drive will still have 180–200 metres to the green. “You need to aim down the right side of the fairway, as it slopes from right to left,” says Lacock. “The shorter hitters should hit their second shots short between the two big rocks that sit on the dogleg. The green is 30 metres long and is guarded by a bunker on the right-hand side, although you also don’t want to miss the green left. If you make par or bogey, you should be happy.”
Visitor – $30
Caddie – $15
Cart Hire – $22
Club Hire – $15
The drive from Johannesburg is approximately four hours, but if you fly into Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport – the closest passenger airport – the distance to Nelspruit Golf Club is approximately 30 kilometres. The airport is located in the town of White River and the drive will take you approximately 30-45 minutes.