GOLDFIELDS WEST

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents -

One of our ru­ral gems is Gold elds West, about 100 kilo­me­tres south-west of Sand­ton, owned by Sibanye Gold. This is gold min­ing coun­try, and it was one of sev­eral won­der­ful mine cour­ses built in the area by Anglo-Amer­i­can after the Sec­ond World War.

Gold elds West is a unique venue in be­ing in an undis­turbed South African bushveld set­ting. With buck and mon­keys roam­ing the property, rugged coun­try­side and hills bor­der­ing the fair­ways, it has a tran­quil at­mos­phere. A few kilo­me­tres into the bush from the busy R501, you en­ter a re­mote property un­changed from 50 years ago when vis­i­tors would golf and braai. There’s a strong un­du­lat­ing char­ac­ter to a course de­signed by Bob Grims­dell in the 1940s.

Few of these time­less cour­ses ex­ist to­day, so it was a shock to learn a year ago that the club had gone into liq­ui­da­tion. Gold elds looked set to fol­low two other 18-holers in the area, Stil­fontein and Blyvooruitzicht, which closed after the mines stopped sub­si­dies. For­tu­nately, Gold elds West had two gal­lant res­cuers in lo­cal busi­ness­man Hans Vierra (Tram­trade) and Hein­rich du Preez of Rad­i­cal Golf.

Vierra grew up in nearby Car­letonville, and as a pas­sion­ate Gold elds mem­ber was not go­ing to al­low its demise after the mem­ber­ship had been left high and dry by the pre­vi­ous man­age­ment who al­legedly were try­ing to strip its as­sets.

Vierra and Du Preez have in­vested in the fu­ture well-be­ing of the club, and al­ready the course is vastly im­proved from where it has been the last 10 years. From slowly slid­ing out of the Top 100 it has bounced back to a higher po­si­tion than 2016. Water hazards have been cleaned up, bunkers ren­o­vated, the pro shop re­vamped, new sig­nage erected on the tees, and a eet of EZGO carts ac­quired. Pre­vi­ously, carts had been al­lowed to ride carte blanche around the course, and the dam­age that left to green sur­rounds has been re­paired.

This is a hands-on op­er­a­tion by its res­cuers. Gold elds West does not have a club man­ager or quali ed green­keeper, and its suc­cess­ful re­cov­ery lies with mo­ti­vated and will­ing sta , and the at­trac­tive green fee pack­ages en­tic­ing golfers back. The Fri­day spe­cial is R350 for two golfers, a golf cart, and half­way thrown in.

Gold elds re­tains the grainy cyn­odon greens which were a fea­ture of Highveld cour­ses 50 years ago. Putts tend to move away from the rocky ridge along­side the course, and can break as much as a me­tre or more. Short putts have to be stud­ied care­fully for break.

Du Preez has two in­no­va­tions for the course go­ing for­ward. On the sixth hole, he is build­ing a set of new tees on the hill­side over­look­ing this pic­turesque par 3 which has al­ways played no more than 160 me­tres. The back tee will mea­sure 260 me­tres, mak­ing it the long­est Par 3 in South Africa. And there’s a large water haz­ard in front of the green! Ad­di­tion­ally, the par-4 16th is to be length­ened con­sid­er­ably into the coun­try’s

rst par 6 hole.

BUSHVELD BEAUTY ▶ The par-3 sixth hole at Goldfields West plays over a large dam.

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