Thorny Bush is a new life­style es­tate on an ex­ist­ing golf course in the boom­ing Lim­popo town of Mokopane.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Backswing - By Stu­art McLean

A GROW­ING NUM­BER of South Africans are look­ing to live in the peace and tran­quil­lity of the Lim­popo bushveld, and Thorny Bush Life­style Es­tate is a newly de­vel­oped res­i­den­tial es­tate cater­ing for the twin de­mands of se­cure hous­ing and golf in the town of Mokopane, for­merly Pot­gi­eter­srus.

Es­tate homes are cur­rently be­ing built on the ex­pan­sive prop­erty of the ex­ist­ing Kameel­dor­ing Coun­try Club, which has a beau­ti­ful 18hole course, an im­pres­sive oa­sis of green fair­ways seen from the air in the dry bushveld. It was opened for play back in 1978, yet it has long re­mained one of South Africa’s hid­den golf­ing gems. For one thing, while only min­utes away from the town cen­tre, it can­not be seen from the R101 main road lead­ing into Mokopane from the south, and it’s mainly only golfers in Lim­popo who have en­joyed the de­lights of play­ing there over the years.

I first dis­cov­ered it about 10 years ago, when the first golf es­tates and re­sorts be­gan to flour­ish through­out the Water­berg re­gion of Lim­popo. With its nu­mer­ous kameel­dor­ing trees, many of them hug­ging the fair­ways and form­ing nat­u­ral haz­ards, the course has al­ways re­minded me of the won­der­ful Sishen lay­out in the North­ern Cape, although the trees here in the north of the coun­try are not nearly as large as they are there. It’s a fun lay­out, mostly flat, with a va­ri­ety of in­ter­est­ing holes, chal­leng­ing in places, and the low-slung club­house, shaded by many trees, has a rest­ful view over the course.

Un­til now Kameel­dor­ing has re­mained a sim­ple coun­try course, pop­u­lar on Sun­days with so­cial golfers when the green fees are half price.And dur­ing the week an af­fil­i­ated vis­i­tor pays R140 for 18 holes. Var­i­ous buck roam the course, and I’m told that gi­raffe will be in­tro­duced.The fair­ways dur­ing my visit were in­cred­i­bly lush con­sid­er­ing the drought con­di­tions in the re­gion; the course re­ceives a se­cured two me­gal­itres a day of grey wa­ter for ir­ri­ga­tion.

Mokopane is to­day an ex­pand­ing and bustling town, its eco­nomic growth fu­elled by min­ing ac­tiv­ity on the north­ern limb of the Bush-

veld Com­plex. The Mo­galak­wena mine nearby is the largest open pit plat­inum mine in the world, and a “flag­ship op­er­a­tion” in An­glo-Amer­i­can’s plat­inum port­fo­lio, cre­at­ing thou­sands of jobs for the area. The mine has been there since 1993, but pro­duc­tion is now at an all-time high, and there is even talk of Mokopane be­com­ing as big as Rusten­burg. Mo­galak­wena is one of six mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties which form part of the Water­berg district.The high moun­tain range strad­dles the town, and dur­ing the rainy sea­son its slopes are cov­ered in wa­ter­falls.

As a re­sult, there has been con­sid­er­able in­ter­est in af­ford­able res­i­den­tial of­fer­ings at Thorny Bush (130 stands sold), which the de­vel­op­ers, Rob Hud­son, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Hayes Matkovich De­vel­op­ments, and lo­cal at­tor­ney Shaun McGrath, in­sist is not in­tended as a hol­i­day home des­ti­na­tion, un­like the other Water­berg es­tates at Ze­bula, El­e­ments and Eu­pho­ria. Thorny Bush is also just 60 kilo­me­tres from Polok­wane, the cap­i­tal of Lim­popo.

Be­ing part of Hayes Matkovich De­vel­op­ments, it was only nat­u­ral that Peter Matkovich’s design com­pany should up­grade the course. Three new holes have al­ready been built to ac­com­mo­date the 200 hectares of golf es­tate com­po­nent, and the oth­ers will be ren­o­vated with new cyn­odon greens over the next year. Home own­ers, who will be­gin mov­ing into their new homes in March, au­to­mat­i­cally be­come mem­bers of the golf club, which will ben­e­fit through the growth in fees and rounds, but con­tinue to op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently of the es­tate.

As we know by now, the ma­jor­ity of home own­ers on golf es­tates do not ac­tu­ally play golf, so Thorny Bush will take ad­van­tage of the fact that the es­tate forms part of a wildlife con­ser­vancy of over 300 hectares, to which res­i­dents will have full ac­cess for bik­ing, walk­ing and fish­ing. There will be 30 kilo­me­tres of moun­tain bike and run­ning trails, and al­ready in use is a 40-hectare dam for keen and com­pet­i­tive fish­er­men, with its own spe­cially cre­ated swims.

The wet­lands of the Nyl River wa­ter­course ad­join the golf es­tate. It came to be known as the “Nile” in the 1860s when a group of Voortrekkers saw the wide river flow­ing north­wards and were un­der the im­pres­sion that they had ar­rived at the mighty Nile it­self. That was how Nyl­stroom, now Modi­molle, ac­quired its name.

Also in the vicin­ity is a pri­vate school, while there is a good model C school in the town. A pri­vate hos­pi­tal has been ap­proved for the area, with con­struc­tion planned in 2016.

Mokopane has an air­field close to the golf course, and its long run­way means it is in con­stant use. Thorny Bush, like Ze­bula, is there­fore a handy es­tate for any­one with their own air­craft. There was a “fly-in” of 94 air­craft from all over South Africa to Mokopane in Novem­ber.


HID­DEN GEM Kameel­dor­ing Coun­try Club, with its bushveld set­ting, is to be in­cor­po­rated into Thorny Bush Life­style Es­tate.

WATER­BERG BACK­DROP The 18th green at Kameel­dor­ing CC, framed by bushveld trees and the Water­berg.

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