An attractive 9-hole course on the remote North-West Coast, Kleinzee Golf Club, has been devastated by a flood which has left the course in what club chairman Johan Dreyer calls “a horrible state.”
“The fairways are covered in sand and sludge and rocks brought down by the Buffels River in August,” said Dreyer. “Some holes resemble a desert. What was so sad for our club was that this happened just two weeks before Kleinzee was due to host the West Coast Open. Our course and greens were in mint condition. Now it’s virtually unplayable, the grass on the greens and fairways has died, and the irrigation is destroyed. Bridges were washed away into the sea.”
Kleinzee is a small seaside community on the Namaqualand Diamond Coast, 100 kilometres from Springbok. The golf club, belonging to the Northern Cape Golf Union, has a tiny membership, yet it was popular with holidaymakers during the season and long weekends. The biggest event this year was the Kleinzee Open in May which attracted an entry of 35 golfers.
It was established as a company town by De Beers after the 1925 discovery of diamonds in the semi-desert of the area. De Beers owned everything and served as administrators. It grew to have a population of about 2 000. The golf course was built by De Beers, and following a similar 1994 flood which damaged many holes, they paid for its rehabilitation and upgrade. But with the demise of the diamond industry in the area, De Beers are no longer there, and the golf club was privatised in 2014.
“We had a greenkeeper from Kroonstad visiting, and he estimated it would cost about R5-million to get the course back to where it was,” said Dreyer. “We are only four golfers left staying in the town, so we can do nothing. I now drive to Springbok to play. A golfer from George arrived in town and said he was going to play, but he wasn’t too happy when he came back in, telling me he had lost 15 balls.”
The Buffels River is normally a dry bed or a small stream, but heavy rains in July and August created huge volumes of water inland. A bridge seven kilometres away acted like a dam wall, and when the bridge collapsed the water cascaded towards Kleinzee. “I managed to salvage all the course equipment in the middle of the night. The course was submerged. Our highest tee is three metres above the fairway, and that too was under water.”
The course occupies 50 hectares of private land, and Dreyer is hoping it might be developed and the course rebuilt. Or a knight in shining armour might come to Kleinzee’s rescue. Anyone who wishes to assist can contact him at 061 064 2068.