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.