GOLF COURSE LIVING IN LIMPOPO
Koro Creek has prospered and grown into a successful residential golf estate in Limpopo, with a championship course.
Koro Creek and Thorny Bush are two residential bushveld golf estates.
IT’S ALWAYS a good measure of a golf course’s popularity and clubhouse functionality when it is asked to host a tournament as part of the annual Vodacom Origins of Golf series on the Sunshine Tour.And Koro Creek Bushveld Golf Estate stepped up a notch in terms of recognition when it recently hosted an event for the first time in this pro-am series.
The course at Koro Creek, in the Limpopo town of Modimolle, was opened for play almost 10 years ago, but for most of that time it has kept a low profile, even while the estate was successfully going about its business during tough economic times which seriously affected other lifestyle estates in the Waterberg region north of Gauteng.
Koro Creek has evolved around different estate planning compared to the likes of Zebula, Elements and Euphoria, which all launched within a few years of each other, in that it concentrated on providing secure upmarket residential housing within the convenience of a town’s infrastructure, rather than being a secondhome wildlife destination deep in the bushveld.
Koro Creek is today a prosperous and restful looking estate bordering the leafy suburbs of Modimolle, containing more than a hundred large homes built on spacious stands overlooking the course, and as the estate has grown over the years so has the town itself. There’s a new shopping mall (ModiMall) on the main R101 road through the town, built due to the demands of an increasing number of affluent residents in the area. Modimolle is now regarded as the administrative and commercial hub of the Waterberg District.
The town is attracting a large number of retirees, drawn there by a broad selection of retirement villages, including at Koro Creek, and the country lifestyle. And it’s close enough to the N1 that it’s just an hour’s drive to Pretoria. So the kids and grandkids are not that far away. And, if you’re a retired golfer, Modimolle is essentially the central point of golf in the Waterberg. You can choose among half-a-dozen courses within an hour’s drive.
It is this convenient geographical positioning that makes Koro Creek a wonderful base for golfing groups coming on tours to the Waterberg.
There are six guest houses on the estate where they can be accommodated. I stayed for two nights at Die Pap Pot, a luxury B&B overlooking the second green. A beautiful spot for sundowners in the evenings, with the wildlife wandering around the estate. Strolling around a few holes, I bumped into some home owners going on a game drive in their golf cart.
PGA professional David Riddle is the general manager at Koro Creek. He knows the Limpopo region like the back of his hand, having grown up playing junior golf with Retief Goosen at Polokwane. He was formerly at Legend Golf & Safari Resort, where he helped in the design of the course, built a 10-hole par 3 course with replica greens from famous holes around the world, and was responsible for the design and construction of Legend’s Extreme 19th. He has embraced his new role at Koro Creek by bringing a refreshing buzz of expectation to the golf club and course.
“We have a strong core of older members here – many of them from the old Nylstroom Golf Club – but Koro Creek needs visiting golfers in order to flourish,” says Riddle. “We have an affordable membership deal, and have become an attractive destination for weekend golfers from Gauteng. It was great to have the Vodacom Origins tournament here in October, because we were able to showcase our course and facilities to both the tour pros and the amateurs who were part of that week.We like to project a welcoming experience here, and I think we achieved that in the way the golfers partied at the clubhouse every evening.”
The large thatch-roofed clubhouse is built for outdoor living and the warm weather you get in this part of the country. Not only golfers, but home owners take advantage of good catering to frequent the 80-seater restaurant and bar. There’s a well-stocked pro shop.
The golf course is a good championship layout, which plays to 6 795 metres off the back tees (club tees are 6 410), but its fairways are generously wide, and the course can be quite flattering to the club golfer if he’s hitting the ball well. Dean Burmester won the Vodacom Origins title at Koro Creek with a 19-under-par total of 197 for 54 holes. Mind you, with superb bent grass greens, golfers are going to hole a lot of putts.
The course was laid out by Douw van der Merwe of DDV Design, and it has featured in the Golf Digest Top 100, although not in the last 2014 ranking. But since Riddle’s arrival in 2014 there has been a significant improvement in the conditioning and look of the layout.The first of several proposed design changes have been made, notably on the par-five 18th hole where the water features now come into play, and adjacent houses taken out of play, while the fairways now have a healthy covering of grass .“Fairways as such as golfers expect to play on didn’t exist when I arrived,” said Riddle. “It was a very dry and fast-running course.”
Koro Creek as a design is full of potential. What I like about playing there are the many exciting and challenging holes it has to offer the golfer.The correction of some design flaws will certainly enhance it. For example, if you’re playing the opening hole, a par 5, for the first time, from the middle of the fairway the green looks eminently reachable from 200 metres out and a great birdie opportunity to start your round. However, what the golfer can’t unfortunately see from the fairway is a large water hazard fronting the green. That’s a weakness in the hole and needs to be rectified.
The front nine is the shorter nine, but it also has the more difficult greens. Some of them have serious slopes, and putting is tricky if you’re on the wrong side of the pin. By contrast, the back nine offers more birdie opportunities.
Koro Creek has probably the only par 3 in the country which is a stroke 1 hole. If any readers can enlighten me on another, please let me know. This is the par-3 seventh, and what a special hole it is. Very much a bushveld creation.
From the club tee it’s a healthy 205 metres, and you can hardly see the green because of high trees blocking the view. Your tee shot has to carry these trees to seek out a green that has water hazards on both flanks. Short or long is safer than wide of the mark. For the Vodacom Origins event, by the way, it was never played longer than 192 metres. I think a sensible decision.
PGA PROFESSIONAL DAVID RIDDLE HAS OVERSEEN SIGNIFICANT IMPROVEMENTS TO THE CONDITIONING AND LOOK OF KORO CREEK’S CHAMPIONSHIP COURSE.
TOUGH CHALLENGE The par-3 seventh hole at Koro Creek is stroke 1 on the card.
OUTDOOR LIVING The clubhouse at Koro Creek.