Yellow 6693 metres, CR74.0/132
White 6310 metres, CR72.1/126
Blue 5959 metres, CR70.4/123
Red 5395 metres, CR67.0/121
Women’s blue, CR76.5/141
Women’s red, CR72.8/134
Bob Grimsdell 1953;
Peter Matkovich 1993
051 447 0906
89 (2021) & 78 (2020)
Bloemfontein GC is a wide, flat and spacious championship course which favours the bombers. Two of the city’s best known young golfers are Dean Burmester and club member Wilco Nienaber, who rank among the world’s longest-hitting tour pros. The greens run fast and true, and both have won recent tournaments at Bloemfontein with a plethora of birdies.
Burmester, who grew up playing at neighbouring Schoeman Park, had 20 birdies and an eagle in 54 holes to win a Sunshine Tour event in 2015, and Nienaber 25 birdies in winning the 72-hole Free State Open in 2018.
The club was founded in 1894, and members moved to this site in 1953 when the city embraced a fully grassed course for the first time. Before that the greens were Kimberley blue ground gravel, which exasperated the legendary Sam Snead on his 1947 exhibition tour with Bobby Locke. Within five years the club hosted its first SA Open, the 1958 champion being amateur Arthur Stewart. The Open returned in 1963 when the winner was 19-year-old Allan Henning. There have been four men’s SA Amateurs, the last in 1975.
Peter Matkovich in 1993 brought modern undulating greens and eye-catching bunkers to the Free State, and they have stood the test of time. His design style is typified by the intimidating par-3 16th, with its sloping green guarded by water on three sides and a bunker front left.
The course is divided in two by a deep spruit that originates in the city centre, and forms a useful hazard on several holes. However, the three bridges that cross it are often under water during the rainy season, and there are plans to build a new bridge to avoid the problem.
Bloemfontein and Schoeman Park are the city’s only 18-holers, and being neighbours there has long been talk of a merger. However, that is most unlikely, as BGC is on municipal land and Schoeman Park on Transnet property.
61, Jbe Kruger third round 2022 Mangaung Open (29-32), 9 birdies 1 eagle
The majority of holes shape right to left at Bloemfontein, notably two of the best long par 4s, the tree-lined ninth with its fairway bunkers, and 17 with its water hazards. The 14th is an outstanding risk-and-reward par 5, with the spruit on the left of the hole from tee to green. The four par 3s are all excellent and varied.
Extensive 300-metre long range, with a short-game area, and separate area for teaching pro.
2022 Carlos Laranja & Gabrielle Venter
2021 Stiaan Heyman & Ellandri van Heerden
2020 Gary Kemp & Gabbi Venter
2019 Wilco Nienaber & Ronel Badenhorst
1/ Wilco Nienaber became a member at age 13 in 2013. He was coached by Quintin Williams, and turned pro in 2019 after winning the SA Amateur. He had a 63 in winning the 2018 Free State Open at BGC. His longest drive in winning the 2019 club champs was 360 metres, and he routinely drives the green of par 4s.
2/ Bloemfontein celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2019. It is one of SA’s oldest golf clubs, but not the oldest in the Free State. Harrismith GC, founded in 1887, is SA’s third oldest golf club.
3/ Club member Peter Vorster won the 1975 SA Amateur at Bloemfontein, having also won in 1965 at Humewood.
4/ Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus played an exhibition match in 1966. A dam left of the fairway on the second hole is known as Nicklaus Hook after a stray drive he hit there.
5/ Club president Colin Sorour is a former Sunshine Tour pro and former club manager.
The layout was good with some interesting holes. However, the presentation and conditioning was lacking. The greens were good, fairways okay, but the bunkers absolutely terrible. The course looked tired.
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