89

Bloemfontein

Bloemfontein, Free State - ​Northern Cape & Free State

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General manager: Trevor Kitching
Golf directors: Barry Kitching & Quintin Williams
Greenkeeper: Albert Weigelt (Mark Wiltshire Golf)
Club captain: Colin Sorour
Chairman: Gysie Pienaar
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 62.5 out of 100
Conditioning11.7 / 20
Playability13.4 / 20
Aesthetics9.0 / 15
Design Variety10.0 / 15
Shot Values10.0 / 15
Memorability8.4 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

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

Visitor green fee

Affiliated R350;
non-affiliated R400

Course designer

Bob Grimsdell 1953;
Peter Matkovich 1993

Contact

051 447 0906
www.bloemgolf.co.za

Previous ranking

78

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.

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

62, Callum Mowat in 2015 Sun Windmill Challenge

Feature Holes

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.

Practice Facility

Extensive 300-metre long range, with a short-game area, and separate area for teaching pro.

Club Champions

2021 Stiaan Heyman & Ellandri van Heerden
2020 Gary Kemp & Gabbi Venter
2019 Wilco Nienaber & Ronel Badenhorst

Did You Know

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 captain Colin Sorour is a former Sunshine Tour pro and former club manager.

Course and Facilities Rating
Conditioning Ratings
Greens
Bunkers
Tees
Fairways
Presentation
Overall Conditioning
Facility Ratings
Pace of Play
Practice Range
Halfway House
Pro Shop
Service
Locker Room
19th Hole
Course Etiquette
Course Reviews
There's much to enjoy about a round at BGC, a solid golfing layout that is far better than its lowly position in the rankings suggests. There is not a weak hole among the 18, and certainly nothing you would describe as a pushover. That, and a strong run of finishing holes from No 14 in, is for me the hallmark of a championship venue. Yet it is also a friendly track for the high handicap. The greens are relatively easily accessed from the middle of the fairway, other than the two challenging par 3s on the back nine. The 11th, where you play over the river, is fiercely guarded by bunkers on both sides of the green, and the 16th has a sizeable water hazard eating into the right side of the green. There's another well-positioned hazard between 17 and 18 that comes into play for the drives on both holes.
Thomas Souness
10 April 2021

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.

Amy Laird
20 January 2021
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I was expecting more from a Top 100 course. The greens were great and enjoyable to putt on, but the course overall looked neglected.
Tara Swart
20 January 2021
An imaginative layout, not aesthetically pleasing though. The greens make the course well worth playing.
Sandor Kovacs
28 April 2020
The Free State has had an abundance of rain, so the courses are lush and green. Some of the rough at Bloemfontein is penal, particularly around the greens. With no run on the fairways this is a strong test of golf, an excellent design married with attractive countryside aesthetics. The bunkers are "iffy" though. Bloemfontein also boasts a superb range. Space for Africa! Another club with an enjoyable 19th. Modern yet traditional.
Stuart McLean
11 March 2020
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