Yellow 6177 metres, CR73.0/133
White 5872 metres, CR71.4/131
Blue, 5483 metres, CR69.0/124
Red, 4759 metres, CR65.3/114
Women’s blue, CR75.4/145
Women’s red, CR70.8/135
Seniors R280 all week
Sunday PM R500 including cart
Wednesday to Saturday R400
Golf carts R390
Guy Smith 2007
073 396 0847
50 (2022) & 48 (2021)
Gowrie Farm is one of South Africa’s more unique layouts, a modern 12-green hybrid creation in the scenic Midlands region of KwaZulu-Natal.
Owner and course architect Guy Smith was inspired by his love of classic designs from Scotland and the United States to build a simple yet visually stunning venue that is loved by traditionalists.
Essentially this is a big and spacious 9-holer, yet clever design features, alternate tees, the addition of three extra greens, at the end of the day leaves golfers content with having played 18 different holes. There are five distinct par 3s, each with their own greens. The farmland terrain has a rugged and open moorland feel, as there are no trees. From the clubhouse you can see most of the course, other than a few greens hidden by the undulating terrain.
The clubhouse overlooks a magnificent dam, around which the closing holes on both nines are played.
Features of the layout include the naturally rugged look of the bunkering – Smith took a leaf from a description of Cypress Point, “Bunkers should have the appearance of being made with careless abandon.” – and push-up greens with run-off areas. It is an excellent test, with a varied set of challenges – the occasional fierce carry here and there over wetlands or water, plus the fearsome bunkers. The greens are bent grass, with cynodon grass in the surrounds and approaches, promoting bump-and-run golf.
Gowrie Farm has an understated look about it. The small clubhouse feels more like a private home, having an intimate golf-themed lounge/bar with a fireplace, plus an outer glassed-in patio area which serves as the halfway house and breakfast area. It’s only a few strides from locker room to first tee. Upstairs is comfortable accommodation. Smith was the developer of Prince’s Grant on the KZN North Coast, where he first provided luxury rooms above the clubhouse.
Gowrie Farm and Bosch Hoek, 20 kilometres apart, have transformed the KZN Midlands Meander into a golfing destination.
Gowrie Farm has golf clinics for women on Tuesday and Saturday (AM) and juniors on Saturday and Sunday.
59 by Matt Saulez in 2018. Played back nine in 28.
An excellent example of Smith’s imaginative work is the seventh/17th hole. It plays as a 330-metre par 4 the first time round to a narrow green hidden behind a ridge; then as a 179m par 3 from an elevated tee to the same green. There’s an excellent quartet of par 3s, from short to long, each with a different looking green complex. The 18th is an unusual par 5, from a high tee to a broad fairway where the option is a long carry over the dam to a small green, or as a 3-shotter via a fairway in the wetlands. If you are strapped for time, and the course quiet, you can make one tour and play 12 different holes, using all the greens.
Long and spacious range adjoining the first hole, practice green.
Gowrie Farm offers a luxurious stay for golfers, with five en-suite rooms on the upper floor of the stone clubhouse, and six suites overlooking the adjacent 18th green, two with kitchenettes. Additionally, for golfing groups there are two self-catering cottages on the property, each with four bedrooms, the Charles Smythe close to the clubhouse and Old Tom Morris on a hillside position. The Charles Smythe doubles up as a conference centre.
1/ Gowrie Farm was ranked by Golf Digest in 2013 as being fourth among the top 9 “Short Courses” in the world outside the United States.
2/ Gowrie Farm offers country living for home owners on a 360-hectare estate, and a large portion of that will remain an operational farm. The architectural style is rooted in historic farmhouses of the Midlands, and old-style simplicity.
3/ Former Sunshine Tour player Phil Simmons became the club’s golf director in May 2019. He spent many years as golf director at Mount Edgecombe.
4/ A rudimentary course existed on the Gowrie Farm site in 1923. The club has photos of golfers putting on a sand green surrounded by a fence to keep out farm animals. The land later became a dairy farm owned by Jub Greene, who currently looks after the course maintenance.
5/ Since 2016 Gowrie Farm has hosted the 54-hole SA Under-15 Challenge each March/April.
6/ Golf carts are allowed at Gowrie Farm, but without roofs to reduce their visibility on the course.
7/ In the area are Fourdoun boutique hotel & spa, and Brookdale Health Hydro & day spa.
2022 Murray Pitt & Julia Saulez
2021 Rees Emanuel & Julia Saulez
2020 & 2019 Trevor Saulez
Gowrie Farm will be an 18-hole course within a couple of years. Seven new holes are to be built on adjoining land, and cutting is already taking place. It will mean Gowrie becoming a busier destination (the current small car park is unlikely to cope), yet when there are 18 I will miss the uniqueness of this hybrid layout. Gowrie is quiet in midweek, and if the course is empty I enjoy playing it as a 12-holer in one loop, rather than walking around twice. After playing 1/10 I switch to the par-3 11th, play 12 and 3/13, then tee up at No 4, as tricky a par 3 you will find with wedge or 9-iron in hand. Miss the raised green and you're in trouble. After 5/14 I take on the par-3 15th adjoining the lake, another challenging and interesting short hole. Then it's 16 and 7/17, the par-3 eighth, and conclude by playing the short par-4 ninth, followed by an iron over the wetland to the 18th green. I've thus hit approaches to all 12 greens. The greens are firm and slick, the bounces reminding me of links golf. The course is superbly presented. Several new bunkers have been built, notably a deep one fronting the downhill par-3 eighth where previously you could safely run a shot on to the green.
Absolute gem. Great test, aesthetics, conditioning and atmosphere. Surely one of the best 9-holers in the world.
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