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Durban Country Club

Durban - KwaZulu-Natal

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Acting general manager: Jay van Rensburg
Golf director: Don Gammon
Greenkeeper: Jaffie Erasmus (Golf Data)
Club captain: Alisdair Muir
Chairman: Errol Stewart
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 75.7 out of 100
Conditioning11.2 / 20
Playability15.6 / 20
Aesthetics12.5 / 15
Design Variety12.2 / 15
Shot Values11.4 / 15
Memorability12.8 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

Yellow 6208 metres, CR73.4/137
White 5979 metres, CR71.2/134
Blue 5552 metres, CR68.8/124
Red 5263 metres, CR68.0/121
Women’s blue, CR75.8/137
Women’s red, CR74.1/134

Visitor green fee

Affiliated weekday R400,
weekend R500
Non-affiliated, R480 & R600

Course designer

Laurie Waters, George Waterman 1922

Contact

031 313 1716
www.durbancountryclub.co.za

Previous Ranking

12 (2021) & 4 (2020)

Durban Country Club, which is celebrating its centenary in 2022, has long been recognised internationally as South Africa’s premier classic golf course. It is one of only eight in the Top 40 which were designed and built prior to the Second World War. Country Club is a masterpiece of original design work on what is sublime golfing terrain close to the Indian Ocean. It has a wonderful balance to it from first hole to last.

A magnificent clubhouse is also part of the Country Club “look.” The stately 95-year-old building stands hard up against the first tee and 18th green, adding to the atmosphere of the venue.

Today the course is an island encircled by busy roads, yet it continues to retain its reputation as a magical place to play. In recent years it has never looked better, thanks to a bush-clearing programme which has opened up more of the holes, exposed mature trees which had been concealed in the undergrowth, and given golfers new delightful vistas of the layout which had previously been hidden. And a decision in 2010 to replace the traditional paspalum grass on the greens with an imported cynodon from America called Mini Verde has speeded up and enhanced the putting surfaces.

Country Club began in the 1920s as a links-style treeless championship layout among the sand dunes. Immediate acclaim meant that just two years after it opened it hosted its first SA Open. And there have been another 16 since then. Over time the tropical climate hastened the growth of vegetation and trees between holes. It reached the point where many holes were hidden from the rest. 

The course built its reputation on the “fabulous five,” the opening stretch of five holes which run among the dunes closest to the sea to the furthest point of the property. Each is individually superb, and the par-3 second and par-5 third have been ranked among the world’s greatest holes. Yet Country Club does not peter out disappointingly once you reach the sixth tee. There are more great holes to come, notably the par-5 eighth. 

The halfway house is in the middle of the course, so golfers only return to the clubhouse at the 18th. The back nine might not be of the same quality as the front, yet it has its own singular holes such as the Prince of Wales, the par-3 12th, a narrow green perched on a ridge. Two modern holes, 15 and 16, are perhaps too bland, yet there’s a thrilling climax to the round at the roller-coaster 17th and the quirky short par 4 18th, where the green can be driven if the right bounce is found on a mounded, sloping fairway. 

Additional Course Facts

Feature Holes

The opening par 4 immediately has golfers exhilarated, an undulating fairway curving left around a dune to an elevated green. The par-3 second tee is the highest point with wonderful views. The famous par-5 third plays from a high tee into a long valley. The fifth is one of the most challenging par 4s, its high tee on the boundary fence and having another rumpled landing area. The par-5 eighth is as good as the third, unusual in the way two sloping dunes conceal the green from view. There are similarities between the eighth and par-4 17th, where the fairway resembles deep troughs between ocean waves on the way to another elevated green.

Practice Facility

Limited size range & short-game area adjoining 18th hole. Another short-game area close to first tee.

MAJOR TOURNAMENTS

Record 17 SA Opens, 1924 to 2010. Winners: Bertie Elkin 1924, Jock Brews 1928, Bobby Locke 1939-50, Gary Player 1956-69-76, Retief Waltman 1963, Bob Charles 1973, Bobby Cole 1980, Wayne Westner 1988-91, Tony Johnstone 1993, Ernie Els 1998-2010, Tim Clark 2002-05. European Tour Volvo Champions 2013-14, both won by Louis Oosthuizen. SA Women’s Open 2006 to 2008. 17 SA Amateurs, 10 men, 7 women.

Course Record

62 by John Bland in first round of 1993 SA Open

Did You Know

1/ DCC is the only SA course to have always featured in the Golf Magazine ranking (first published in 1985) of the world’s leading 100 courses outside the United States. Ranked No 97 by Golf Digest in their 2022-23 ranking of the World’s Greatest 100 Courses (outside the US).

2/ The club hosted the 100th SA Open in 2010, which gave Ernie Els his fifth Open title, and second at DCC.

3/ John Bland shot 62 in the first round of the 1993 SA Open, with 11 birdies, seven on the back nine which he played in 29. Bland finished T-5, 10 shots behind winner Tony Johnstone.

4/ Gary Player won three of the five Opens he entered at DCC, and also two Natal Opens. Bobby Cole and Wayne Westner each won three events at DCC.

5/ Durban CC acquired a second golf course, Beachwood, in 1994, but have since sold it to a developer and it is being operated independently.

6/ The Waterman Cup, in tribute to George Waterman who helped build the course, is a 36-hole medal event for one of the club’s historic trophies, first presented in 1924.

7/ Durban CC has 2200 members, 750 golfers. The club also offers squash, tennis and a swimming pool.

Club Champions

2021 Jonathan Broomhead & Jean Whitfield
2020 Lyall McNeill & Jean Whitfield
2019 Basil Naidoo & Lydia Muhl

Course and Facilities Rating
Conditioning Ratings
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Bunkers
Tees
Fairways
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Overall Conditioning
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Course Reviews
My first visit to DCC since the April floods disastrously impacted the golf course and left most of it under water, metres deep in places. Seven weeks later, and following more torrential rain in May, there are still 14 holes out of play. Members are playing a short course comprising Nos 1-2-17-18. These holes look perfect, as if nothing had happened, yet walking further on to the third tee the submerged fairways come into view. All you can see is a succession of "shallow lakes" in the low lying areas. Strange to walk such a deserted course on a weekend. Not another person to be seen other than a security guard. The greens on these holes are unaffected, although they are ironically in need of water because the irrigation pumps need replacing. They have to be hand watered. Some more holes will reopen soon as the water is pumped off the fairways, yet there is extensive damage to others which will preclude DCC operating an 18-hole course for some time to come.
Stuart McLean
30 May 2022
The course is in great shape. Never seen so much attention to detail. The members must be proud. The greens were consistent and smooth, great to putt on. Fairways well covered, firm and running, bunkers excellent and consistent. A highly recommended experience.
Henry Trevena
17 March 2022
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Still the best course I have played. Challenging but fair nonetheless. The restoration work over the last few years has done a world of good by improving it from both a visual and playability perspective. There are two distinct areas of the course: the holes in the dunes, and those on the flat land behind the dunes which have been utilised beautifully to create elevation changes and awkward lies. The wind can be a huge factor. DCC is short by modern standards but many approach shots are to elevated or hidden pin positions, and many tee shots give the impression there is less space than there actually is. As amazing as the course is, the service is quite the opposite. The club seems to lack the initiative to utilise the amazing course they have and create a world-class venue, an unmatched golf experience in SA.
Jean-Luc Regaud
26 December 2021
The worst course condition of a top 50 course ever. Extremely friendly staff does not make up for the condition of the greens.
Hanlo Fourie
08 December 2021
Durban CC celebrates its centenary in 2022, and it is unfortunate that a perfect storm of bad circumstances has resulted in the iconic course's greens being catastrophically wiped out this past winter. The problematic mini-verde grass, planted in 2010 just before the SA Open that year, battled in the unusually cold winter weather and then reacted badly to a maintenance treatment with a herbicide. The greens were poor on my last visit in May, and right now they are dreadful. The course staff is plugging them with a Royal Blue cynodon that has been considered the best replacement solution to the mini-verde, which will not be missed. The rest of the course is in superb condition, which makes the situation with the greens all that more tragic.
Stuart McLean
15 November 2021
Course is green and looking healthy. Golf Data are improving the maintenance and look. Definitely more care and attention to little things on the course. DCC will be back were it should be, in the top 10, with Golf Data at the helm.
Greg Townsend
12 February 2021
Durban Country Club is going through a transitionary period, and among the many changes is that of the maintenance contractors. Golf Data have replaced Matko Turf, in charge for the last 10 years, and introduced new practices. As a Top 10 course DCC needs to raise its game in terms of conditioning because it is competing in an elite space where its rivals have an edge in conditioning. However, whatever the state of the course, Country Club remains an excellent experience, such a novel design. It has the potential, though, to be even better than it currently is.
Stuart McLean
21 December 2020
Lots of attention to detail, although the greens were not at their best. Placing on fairways, not sure why as they are well matted. Enjoyed the tees, particularly on the short holes as they are all flat. Quality of bunkers good but some fellow players fail to clean up after themselves .
Henry Trevena
11 March 2020
Course much improved with clearing out of non-indigenous trees and shrubs. Classic old layout getting back to its best.
Ivan Palframan
19 February 2020
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