Kambaku

Komatipoort - Mpumalanga

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Club manager: Jacq Nel
Greenkeeper: Harry van Dyk
Club captain: Theo Stronkhorst
President: Piet van Dyk

Course Summary

Three tees / Par 72

White 5819 metres, CR71.5/132
Blue 5234 metres, CR69.6/127
Red 4831 metres, CR66.5/118
Women’s blue, CR75.5/134
Women’s red, CR71.9/126

Visitor Green Fee

Affiliated R210 (9) & R410 (18)
Seniors (weekday only) R200 & R350
Non-affiliated R320 & R600
Seniors R300 & R500
Golf cart R220 (9) & R400 (18)

Course designer

Douw van der Merwe 2006

Contact

082 888 0188
www.kambakugolf.co.za

Nine-Hole ranking

No 2 (2024)

If you don’t have the budget to play Leopard Creek but would love a round in similar bushveld terrain, then view elephants and hippo from the clubhouse deck, you should head along the N4 from Malelane to the unique Kambaku course, in the railway town of Komatipoort, on the border with Mozambique. It’s 450 kilometres from Johannesburg.

Kambaku opened in 2006 as a 9-hole course, but today has evolved into a hybrid layout where golfers can enjoy 14 different holes with 11 separate greens. The new routing will take effect on October 14 2023. One green will in future be used as a par 4 (No 4) and later as a par 3 (No 14), golfers approaching it from different directions. Another green is shared between a dogleg left par 4 (No 7) and later a dogleg right par 5 (No 16).

There are only four holes which look and play similarly on each of the two nines. One of them is a spectacular new short par 4 with an island green on the banks of the Crocodile River, designed and built by Harry van Dyk. It has quickly become one of Kambaku’s signature holes after opening in 2023. It is the penultimate hole on each nine, and has one of the biggest teeing areas in Africa, some 65 metres long. And raised high above the river.

Kambaku has a fabulous clubhouse to complement the course, with an outside deck looking down on the wide reaches of the Crocodile River, where you can enjoy a plate of Tiger prawns with your chilled bottle of white wine.

The course is in a forest of impressively sturdy and imposing bushveld trees, which feature prominently in the design of each hole. It is in magnificent condition for what is essentially a country layout – cynodon grass from tee to green, a beautiful lush playing surface.

Kambaku lies on the confluence of the Crocodile and Komati rivers, and several holes overlook water, offering frequent sightings of wildlife. The hybrid layout has five par 5s, five par 3s, and eight par 4s. Three of the par 3s are only played once. The exception is Kambaku’s closing hole, a 150-metre par 3 which serves as No 9 and No 18.

Inland from the rivers the club created a signature tee box which enhances the Kambaku experience for golfers. On the highest point of the property an extra-high tee was built in reinforced concrete, where golfers overlook the forest canopy and the Komati River. From this outlook you first play to the green of the par-3 third, and the second time around tee off in another direction, downhill to the short par-4 12th, with tall trees as hazards in the middle of the fairway.

Winter is the best time to visit Kambaku, as it is remains warm and ideal for golf without the summer humidity. The club’s annual tournament takes place in July.

Read: THE 9-HOLE GEMS OF MPUMALANGA

Read: SA’s 25 BEST NINE-HOLE COURSES

Additional Course Facts

Club Champions

2023 Rurik Gobel & Eugenie Wolmarans
2022 Rurik Gobel & Rose Powell
2021 Elton James & Natasha Broodryk
2019 Jacques Kallis & Rose Powell

Practice Facility

Putting green and Himalayan course for youngsters. No range.

DEVELOPMENT

Kambaku has one of the most successful development programmes in South Africa, and its achievements were featured on a 2023 SuperSport show. The development programme began in 2011 to support disadvantaged children in the Komatipoort area, and has grown substantially over the years. Several of the youngsters have represented Mpumalanga junior provincial teams.

Did You Know

1/ The course is named after one of the Magnificent Seven bull elephants which formerly graced the Kruger National Park. Kambaku is a Shangaan word for “bloody big tusker.” He lived from 1930 to 1985 and his tusks, each weighing 64kg, are in the elephant hall at Letaba rest camp.

2/ The golf club is a community driven project relying on the support of farmers and business people. Everyone contributes some way or other. With a membership of 165, the support of donors enables the course to be kept in quality shape.

3/ Founding members built the course and laid the irrigation. Sugar and banana farmers Chris Basson and Harry van Dyk shaped the greens to USGA specs.

4/ Cricketing legend Jacques Kallis won the men’s club championship in 2019, and had his first hole-in-one on the course. Other members are cricketers Mark Boucher and Kevin Pietersen, and Springboks Butch James and Schalk Brits.

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Course Reviews
We go to Marloth Park for the December holidays every second year and playing golf at Kambaku is one box that my son and I have to tick.
Wessel du Plessis
24 May 2024
Keen to see Kambaku's new holes since my last visit and I was not disappointed. The new 8/17, a risk-reward short 4 with a semi-island green, runs adjacent to the Crocodile River and Kruger Park, similar in a way to the more famous 13th at Leopard Creek. Longer hitters have the opportunity of going for the green with their tee shots, but the smart play to avoid a wet landing is a layup to a generous fairway. The new sixth is a slightly uphill 180-metre par 3 to the sloping green of the old third hole. Another new hole, the par-5 16th, is short with a wide fairway (which it shares with par-4 seventh) but is well protected by bunkers left and right for both drive and approach shot. The new configuration and sequencing of holes gives a better flow to the round and the feeling of an 18-holer. If there is any "non-18" course deserving of a spot in the Top 100 (alongside Bosch Hoek), this is it!
Trevor King
12 April 2024
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Fun layout in an idyllic bushveld setting next to two broad rivers. The routing has changed since late last year to incorporate a few new holes. Several holes skirt the rivers, the stroke 1 par 5 (No 5 and No 15) on the Komati River particularly strong. The new No 8/17 alongside the Crocodile River is a fantastic risk-reward short par 4. The island green is receptive and can be reached off the tee by longer hitters, albeit a layup play will suit the majority of golfers. The putting surfaces are a highlight with the roll true and consistent. The finishing hole is a well-designed shortish par 3 (9/18) likely into a breeze. The only par 3 you play twice. It is clear to see why Kambaku has been added to many group tours, with improvements ongoing, including new cart paths. The 19th on the riverbank is superb with great service.
Jon James
02 February 2024
Kambaku is evolving into one of SA's foremost golf destinations, one attracting more and more visitors to its remote location at Komatipoort. A spectacular new hole has been built by Harry van Dyk, a founder member and the club's most passionate benefactor, on the banks of the Crocodile River, a risk-reward short par 4 with an island green. It's one of the few holes I've seen where the 65-metre-long teeing area is as much a feature as the two-tier green. It has been elevated high above the river, and thus survived the massive flooding of the Crocodile and Komati rivers earlier this year. There are 11 greens at Kambaku, and a new creative routing with a varied selection of tees will soon see golfers playing 14 distinctly different holes in this magnificent bushveld setting.
Stuart McLean
28 August 2023
Kambaku is one of the best bushveld golfing experiences, and it is only going to get better, as this 9-holer on the Mozambique border will have new holes and a new routing. A "wow factor" short par 4 with an island green is being built alongside the Crocodile River which flows past the clubhouse. It will play as the eighth and 17th. Kambaku will become more of a "hybrid" layout with 11 greens, similar to Gowrie Farm, with four separate par 3s. Kambaku is not only a course of interesting variety, with beautiful river views on several holes, it boasts exceptional conditioning. With its large swathes of green fairways (hardy cynodon grass to cope with the heat) among the bushveld trees it resembles in places Augusta National meets the Kruger National Park. You cannot leave without a cold beverage on the clubhouse deck overlooking the river. It was busy with visitors having lunch, many of them non-golfers drawn to this special destination.
Stuart McLean
23 March 2022
Played Kambaku for the first time. It is undoubtedly one of SA's best 9-hole courses. Clever tee variations and options allow for the course to be set up as two different nines. The eighth hole is a superb risk-reward par 5 of 538 metres (stroke 1) with the approach to the green protected by a large "island jungle" inclusive of fully grown trees set up in the middle of the fairway. A "bucket list" course for any avid golfer.
Trevor King
26 January 2022
Kambaku for me rates among the best 9-holers (or non-18-holers to be precise) in South Africa. The condition of the course, the clubhouse experience with those solid wooden tables on the outside deck, the views of the Crocodile River and the wilderness from the clubhouse, makes this one of the most special of golf course experiences.
Bereng Paul Mokoena
13 January 2022

Kambaku is an absolute must for any golfer visiting the Kruger National Park. The bushveld 9-holer is in excellent condition considering the extreme temperatures in summer. Some interesting holes that can punish you if slightly offline. Great fairways and greens that are somewhat slow but roll true. Be sure to visit the stunning 19th hole on the river. The food is excellent and they generally have great drinks specials.

Craig Gunther
16 February 2021
A gem that is unfortunately off the beaten track and will not be played by the number of visitors it deserves. The conditioning is exceptional when taking into account the extreme summer heat as well as limited funds and staff. The variation in tees ensures that you do not feel you are playing the same hole twice during a round; a problem many 9-holers suffer from. However, the playing sequence of holes must be revisited, as playing the short par 3 in front of the clubhouse twice, and as the finishing hole, weakens the course. The previous sequence of playing the long par-3 seventh twice and finishing on the long par-5 17th is a better option.
Jaco Ackermann
19 December 2020

I loved playing Kambaku, because we had an excellent and knowledgeable caddie Bryan assisting us. I would recommend a caddie for the first-time visitor. There are some very good holes here and you pay for your mistakes. The greens roll true, and the course is in good condition. The beautiful 19th hole has a view to the Kruger Park.

Philip Malan
10 December 2020
It's quite a journey to Kambaku, another 110 kilometres east of Nelspruit, yet the golfing experience is worth the drive. It's an exceptionally well conditioned course for a remote 9-holer, lush cynodon grass from tee to green. The clubhouse overlooks the Crocodile River and is a delightful place to relax. The course is well designed with some testing and interesting holes, and plentiful trees play a part in those challenges. The greens are large, and that on the first hole is the scariest of them all, one from which you'll be happy to walk off with a two-putt. The course has two superb par 5s, a par 4 where many golfers can drive the green, and three separate par 3s, two of which you only play once. For me the weakest par 3, No 9 and 18, is the one you play twice in 18 holes, because of its situation next to the clubhouse. Both tee shots are played from virtually the same area.
Stuart McLean
06 December 2020

Kambaku is an absolute treat. Having never travelled to Komatipoort we ventured to this 9-hole course not knowing what to expect. The greens, fairways and presentation were superb. The routing is interesting with the tee box changes providing variety between the front and back nines. The fifth is spectacular and provides true risk and reward options. The Par 5s are memorable with narrow landing areas and interesting greens. Kambaku must rank as one of our best short courses. 

Jon James
29 November 2020

One of the very best 9-holers in South Africa; just a great experience for any visitor to this part of the world. The beautiful trees, the rivers, and in tremendous condition. A wonderful addition to our true bushveld courses. Best played outside the heat of the summer months.

Stuart McLean
25 February 2020
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