BEACHWOOD

Top Dur­ban course faces the axe.

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents -

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

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