Mbombela Golf Club
The design of the Mbombela Golf Club (formerly Nelspruit GC) layout has a rather long and storied history to it. The original course was laid out in 1928, before the club relocated to its current spot in 1939, where the leading golf course architect of the time, Bob Grimsdell, put together a solid 9-holer. Almost 30 years later Grimsdell returned to the Lowveld to complete the job by adding the other nine holes and, in so doing, he transformed the course into a challenging 18-hole championship layout.
In typical Grimsdell style, the result was a bushveld golf course that consisted of 18 strong golf holes that flowed seamlessly from one hole to the next, with no obvious weaknesses. Even today, it is difficult to pinpoint a signature hole on the Mbombela layout – and even more difficult to select a poor hole.
Peter Matkovich was the next designer to apply his magic touch to the golf course, in 1998, when he created three new holes (the first three holes) and redesigned all of the greens complexes as part of the course and club’s evolution to become part of the Matumi Golf Estate.
At around 6 000 metres in length, Mbombela is relatively short by modern standards and the fairways are reasonably generous. Yet for players to take advantage of the scoring opportunities that present themselves, they will need to successfully navigate the imposing indigenous trees that line the fairways and block a number of shot options for the player who is out of position.
While the 509-metre 2nd hole asks tough questions off the tee, the remaining par fives present excellent scoring opportunities for even the medium-length hitters. Equally, the course has a number of short par fours, including a stretch of four in a row around the turn, which should give players a decent look at birdie. Providing good balance to these shorter par fours, Mbombela has a number of lengthy two-shotters, but none is tougher than the opening hole – a beast at 433 metres from the tips. The closing hole, a long par four of 384 metres, ensures sure that golfers have earned their post-round libation.
Mbombela also has an excellent mix of par threes, with the 210-metre 3rd hole the most challenging of the quartet, but even the shorter 5th and 17th holes require precise tee shots over a ravine to a small target.
The course is home to an incredible diversity of animals and birds and one gets the feeling that at any given time you will be able to spot some of the natural wildlife on the course, from the small duiker and klipspringers to any of the 250 species of birds. Some wildlife, however, is best avoided, and golfers should be aware that the course is also home to some venomous snake species.
While the course remains in excellent condition all year round, with the wonderful bent grass greens providing near-perfect roll, what sets this club apart from most is its friendly, welcoming attitude. Green fees are very reasonable and the clubhouse is a wonderful, lively spot to enjoy a cold drink and get some food.
Of course, it is impossible to talk of the Mbombela Golf Course without mentioning the famous Jock of the Bushveld Festival Golf, which started in 1968 and has grown to the extent where some 800 amateurs from far and wide play more than 2 000 rounds during a week every May. If you haven’t had the fortune to play in this week-long celebration of golf, we recommend that you book your spot for next year.
Mbombela Golf Club was the proud host of the 2019 South African Inter-Provincial Tournament, won by Ekurhuleni.