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Elements

Near Bela Bela - Limpopo

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General manager: Gerhard Lombard
Golf manager: Charles Smith
Course Maintenance: Matko Turf (Craig Corbett)
Chairman: Waldo du Toit
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 78.8 out of 100
Conditioning15.4 / 20
Playability15.6 / 20
Aesthetics13.2 / 15
Design Variety11.5 / 15
Shot Values11.4 / 15
Memorability11.7 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

Yellow 6792 metres, CR75.9/148
White 6348 metres, CR73.4/143
Blue 5759 metres, CR70.2/135
Red 5266 metres, CR67.5/127
Women’s blue, CR76.4/147
Women’s red, CR72.9/140

Visitor green fee

R400
Golf carts R400

Course designer

Peter Matkovich 2005

Contact

010 591 2951
www.elementsgolfreserve.co.za

Previous ranking

14 (2022) & 17 (2021)

The bushveld course at Elements Private Golf Reserve has been blessed with good rainfall the last two years, following a lengthy drought in the Waterberg region of Limpopo, and has returned to the excellent conditioning which saw it ranked among the country’s Top 10 courses when it first opened for play.

Visitors are always taken by surprise at the natural beauty and magnificence of this modern Peter Matkovich layout, set in a tranquil bushveld location with a diverse range of wildlife roaming the property. This sprawling championship layout is not what you would expect in a remote second-home residential golf estate, certainly not one with slick bent grass greens the equal of courses in Gauteng.

Matkovich loves the bushveld, and camping on site during the construction period fed his creative thinking in the design of some interesting and original looking holes. The opening par 4 is one of them. The uphill fairway appears to disappear into the bush, but once there you see a narrow gap through the trees leading to the green. Walking through that shady glade is the entrance to a unique golfing environment. The terrain is rugged and rocky, the holes running between natural hillsides in a valley of indigenous trees, so there are subtle changes in elevation.

Water in this dry area is precious, and in 2017 the Elements Body Corporate concluded arrangements with neighbouring properties to ensure they have enough water to irrigate the fairways in winter. The large dam around the adjoining ninth and 18th greens, a feature of both closing holes, has water in it more frequently after being dry for years. Elements Body Corporate acquired the clubhouse and commercial rights from the previous hotel group operator.

The multi-storey clubhouse sits prominently on a high ridge, with panoramic views over the course and the surrounding landscape. 

Elements is a blissful place to escape from busy city life. Star gazing is listed among the estate’s activities. 

Read more: ELEMENTS WATERHOLE BENEFITS FROM RAINFALL

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

63, Joel Girrbach (Swiss) in 2022 SDC Open (30-33: nine birdies), co-sanctioned Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour. Elements co-hosted with Zebula.

Feature Holes

A pulpit tee overlooking the dam and clubhouse has transformed the par-3 ninth into a signature hole with a terrific view. There are several other tees at ground level. The par 5s at Elements are all lengthy holes, concluding with the 18th where a big drive can run forever down a hillside towards a green guarded on the left by the main dam. Doglegs abound on the course, with greens hidden away among the bushy vegetation.

Accommodation

Luxury homes (four bedrooms) and lodges (two bedrooms) on the estate are available to rent, with either valley or bush views. All have fully equipped kitchens, swimming pools and braai areas. The units are serviced. Email info@elementsgolfreserve.co.za for bookings. Visit Elements website for options, or www.gameoflife.co.za or www.funholidays.co.za. Guest houses outside estate.

Practice Facility

Spacious range adjoining clubhouse and close to both starting tees, plus short-game area.

Did You Know

1/ President Cyril Ramaphosa owns a nearby game farm. On New Year’s Day 2015 he had a hole-in-one on the second.

2/ Ten kilometres of corrugated dirt road needs to be navigated to reach the estate entrance from Bela Bela.

3/ Low-density estate with 308 home sites on a 495-hectare property. It has an excellent network of mountain bike trails, and tennis courts.

4/ Elements was Golf Digest Best New Course in 2006.

5/ Another Matkovich bushveld course, Zebula, is 38 kilometres away along  a dirt road.

6/ Elements hosted the 2021 SA Mid-Amateur Interprovincial, its first big tournament.

7/ Jono Martin had an ace on the 320m sixth in 2008.

Club Champions

2022 Nico Hager & Elfra van Eyk
2021 Kobus Schlimmer & Nicky van Eyk
2020 Norman Kok & Retha Meyer
2019 Gerhart Meyer & Elfra van Eyk

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
One of SA's best courses, yet so remote I'm sure many golfers have never experienced it, maybe never heard of it. Elements should be talked about like Leopard Creek, although there wasn't much wildlife to be seen other than a few antelope. I was warned though about snakes in the thick rough, particularly black mamba, which are territorial and have their chosen spots in the bushveld on the estate. If you're not in a golf cart, you won't outrun one! Elements chose a great site for its clubhouse, on a ridge overlooking the first and 18th holes. Perfect 19th hole at the end of the round.
Lamprecht de Villiers
19 November 2022
The "Gem of the North" (new title on the scorecard) is in outstanding shape having benefited from early rains in the Waterberg. Elements presents a memorable challenge from the first tee shot to the final putt. It does not have a weak hole. The dam surrounding the ninth and 18th greens complex is virtually full and provides a breathtaking view from the clubhouse or the pulpit tee on No 9. A feature of Elements is the number of dogleg holes which test varied shot shapes and place a premium on the accuracy of your approaches. The par-4s are varied and interesting, the par-5s memorable, No 18 a great finishing hole. My favourite though is the uphill par-3 second, a strong hole (tees vary from 225 to 118 metres) which immediately gets your long irons into play. Golfers visiting Limpopo have options aplenty with this Matkovich design at the top of the "must play" list. The management of the club has received focused attention, the service and attention to detail providing for an excellent allround experience. Elements is indeed a gem.
Jon James
06 November 2022
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A real gem. The dam around the ninth and 18th greens has filled up following all the rain which makes it a spectacular experience.
IF Mulder
30 March 2022
The maintenance team at Elements are doing a great job in that hot, dry climate to keep the course in such outstanding condition.
Leon Bevan
12 January 2022

A highlight of any round at Elements is playing the "pulpit hole," the par-3 ninth. The high tee built on a ridge opposite the clubhouse wasn't part of the original design, but rather a later addition. And it would never have worked in the era before golf carts. Walking up the long steep path from the eighth green would be too much of an ordeal for most golfers on a hot bushveld day. It would take golfers another five minutes to catch their breath before playing. The height is similar to Peter Matkovich's other pulpit par 3 at Cotswold Downs, but the carry to the green is much longer and creates doubt in your mind about what club to use to make sure of pitching the green. Your choice must be correct or you're in trouble. If you come up even fractionally short you're in the wetland at the foot of a steep bank with no view of the flag. Those who take a longer club find the back bunkers come into play, leaving a tricky downhill recovery shot. It's a memorable hole, but then each of the other par 3s are also distinctive. The 15th is a beauty, played through an avenue of trees to a remarkably long and undulating green.

Thomas Souness
05 January 2022
Stayed overnight in one of the lodges you can rent close to the clubhouse, and teed off early the next day. The Waterberg estate is relatively quiet at this time of year. Elements is stunning to play at any time of day, but early morning or late afternoon is particularly good in summer. Try and do both. The course is looking superb, the greens exceptional, and it's one of the best golf experiences in South Africa. A memorable collection of holes in a pristine bushveld location. None of the estate homes intrude on the course. I haven't tried to walk Elements, which begins with two uphill holes, because the golf cart trail is a good one and it speeds up the pace of play.
Stuart McLean
16 December 2021
Great layout, greens in excellent condition and quick. Challenging but enjoyable course.
Jason Merrifield
06 December 2021
Good to be back at this superb layout. Course looking really good after some good rains. Dams full and the aesthetics exceptional. Greens in excellent condition, hard, fast and true. Tees, fairways, bunkers also in great condition.
David Frost
18 May 2021
Elements is an exceptional bushveld gem. Current conditioning and presentation is superb. The greens have to be some of the best surfaces in South Africa, unbelievable to putt on even in autumn. The tee boxes are the only area that could be enhanced to get the course further up the rankings. The course previously had difficulty with water access, but those issues seem to have been resolved, including in the hazards around the 9th and 18th greens. The par-3 9th from its high tee has to be one of the most thrilling holes you can play, what a treat.
Jon James
13 May 2021
The course is in fantastic condition, especially the greens. They have also paid attention to the tees and fairways in the last two years.
Altus du Plessis
14 February 2021
The course is once again in fantastic condition. The greens are among the best in South Africa. A proper bushveld course.
Jan Kriel
16 January 2021
Splendid course with wonderful holes! Every hole unique and picturesque and offering different shot variety. Greens were in brilliant condition, quick and true. Really lovely experience playing this course.
Amy Laird
24 December 2020
Outstanding course with excellent greens that run fast and true. The clubhouse overlooks multiple holes which are enjoyable to view whilst having a post round drink.
Tara Swart
22 December 2020
This was a new experience for me playing in the bushveld. Elements unfortunately have had little rain so the fairways are not good. But once you have waited for the warthog to move off you get a different perspective. Greens are good, smooth to putt on. Attention to detail around the greens was adequate, bunkers inconsistent. The 9th and 18th are great finishing holes. The par-3 9th, provided there is water in the dam around the green, is one of the toughest short holes in the country.
Henry Trevena
07 November 2020
A course to remember! There are special holes at Elements. Greens are true, tees in great condition and manicuring exceptional. There are a variety of tees on each hole. Bunkers are fantastic and it is possible to play with confidence. Worth the trip!
Philip Malan
06 November 2020
A magnificent bushveld gem. Fairways look stunning for a bushveld course. The greens true and running at 12 on the stimp. Elements is a must play for the bushveld golf lover.
Jacob Delton
30 October 2020
Elements was the last course I played on my road trip before the Corona lockdown. A fitting end at what I would describe as one of our three best bushveld layouts. And Elements is true bushveld. Wander off the fairway and you are truly in the bush. A person can disappear in there! We played 9 holes between 4pm and 6pm and saw numerous wildlife. The estate is a real retreat from city life, unique in its peaceful remoteness in the Waterberg. The course, as always, plays splendidly, even though rainfall has been sparse in March.
Stuart McLean
27 March 2020
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