Top Durban course faces the axe.
Golf courses provide those who love the game with great enjoyment and wonderful memories, and in crowded metropolitan areas they provide luxuriant green lungs amidst dreary highways and suburbia. But, like ancient giant trees that are felled for the sake of development and ‘progress,’ golf courses always remain an endangered species. Many around South Africa are currently threatened either with closure or housing developments which will emasculate the original design or beauty of the property.
A dark shadow has loomed over the future of the magnificent Beachwood course in Durban in recent years, as a result of the financial travails which affected Durban Country Club following a R60-million refurbishment of their clubhouse completed in 2008. Remember that year? The start of the world’s financial meltdown. Beachwood is DCC’s second course, the club having acquired it in the early 1990s when Beachwood GC itself went broke.
Beachwood’s demise now seems imminent, following a special general meeting at DCC in late November where a majority of members agreed that the property could be sold to pay for the club’s mounting debts. Durban CC also no longer has enough golf members to sustain two courses.This is essentially the crux of the matter, and why so many other golf clubs are in trouble today.
For golfers, environmentalists, lovers of open space, and those residents whose houses have overlooked the course for generations (the course dates back to 1930), the thought of verdant Beachwood being bulldozed flat is both shocking and disturbing. It lies on pristine Indian Ocean coastline amidst mangrove swamps and indigenous bush.
The likelihood is that this natural paradise will be transformed into a concrete money-making jungle of some sort, possibly an amusement park, hotels, apartments, etc. That would only happen when neighbouring Virginia Airport is also shut down for development.An annoying feature of playing golf at Beachwood was that the course was the approach path for light aircraft. But that was a small price to pay for one of the country’s most challenging tests of golf, which boasts an exciting variety of skillfully designed holes.The original Beachwood was upgraded by Gary Player Design in the early 1990s, so successfully in fact that there were occasions over the years when it looked distinctly more impressive than the world-ranked Durban CC. It was in the Top 20 of Golf Digest’s Top 100 in the first decade of the millennium, although by 2016 it had slipped to No 33. – STUART McLEAN