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Mbombela

Mbombela - Mpumalanga

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Greenkeeper: Petri van der Walt
Club captains: Angelo Sebastian & Barbara Scott
President: Marcus Mdhluli
CEO: Darren Plumb
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 69.2 out of 100
Conditioning13.8 / 20
Playability14.2 / 20
Aesthetics12.2 / 15
Design Variety10.7 / 15
Shot Values9.2 / 15
Memorability9.1 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 71

White 6065 metres, CR71.7/137
Yellow 5475 metres, CR68.3/129
Red 5150 metres, CR66.6/126
Women’s yellow , CR74.7/137
Women’s red, CR72.9/133

Visitor green fee

R390 affiliated
R480 non-affiliated
Group (12+) R320

Course designer

Bob Grimsdell 1943/1966,
Peter Matkovich 1998

Contact

013 744 0952
www.nelspruitgolfclub.co.za

Previous Ranking

60 (2021) & 73 (2020)

An attractive bushveld course renowned for its multitude of magnificent indigenous trees, Mbombela is best enjoyed in the winter months, when the heat of the Lowveld region is less oppressive than in the height of summer. It sits on a gently sloping hillside amidst rocky outcrops, and the undulating terrain adds character to the holes.

The trees frame the fairways and greens, and each of the 18 holes has been named after a different species. They include fig trees, mahogany, coral, waterberry, milkwood, marula and the protected matumi. There is an ancient fig tree of enormous height and girth straddling the sixth and 18th fairways through which no golf ball will pass. Being relatively close to the Kruger National Park, the birdlife is prolific with hundreds of species recorded. 

The creation of the course is an interesting story. Designer Bob Grimsdell visited Nelspruit for three days in 1939, and presented the club with sketches, a routing plan for 18 holes, and a bill for 37 pounds. The local council were aghast at having to pay this princely sum. Grimsdell felt insulted, but did get paid. However, he never returned to the golf club. The members built nine holes from his plans (using an ox-drawn plough), completed in 1943, and then constructed the second nine more than 20 years later.

Wild animals were seen on the course in early days, including leopard and lion.

Mbombela will always be associated with the Jock of the Bushveld tournament, and a statue of the famous Lowveld Staffordshire bull terrier cross sits behind the ninth green. It used to overlook the 18th hole, but was moved to its new position so that group photos would have the course as a backdrop, rather than the clubhouse. The Jock was the first festival week programme in South Africa, initiated in 1968 after the course had been extended to 18 holes, and continues to this day.

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

63 by Hendrik Stoop, Matt Spacey,
2014 Mpumalanga Open

Feature Holes

A par 71 layout, with three par 5s. Two of them come early in the round, at the second and fourth, and the next one is the downhill 14th, which from the tee offers the most beautiful view on the course, overlooking the surrounding Crocodile River Valley and hills. The 440-metre first is one of the most difficult opening holes in South Africa, a dogleg right par 4, with a green surrounded by trees and bunkers.

Practice Facility

No range, but there is a practice tee where golfers can hit own balls down 18th fairway. Practice nets.

Club Champions

2021 Corne Olivier & Cecilia Abraham
2020 Corne Olivier & Eva Strydom
2019 Rohan Greyvenstein & Mary Ann Braithwaite

Did You Know

1/ Nelspruit GC was founded in 1928. In those early days, due to the summer heat and humidity, golf was only played between April and October. Bobby Locke and Peter Thomson played an exhibition match on the 9-holer in 1957.

2/ The property includes Matumi residential estate developed in the late 1990s, which saw an upgrade of the course by Peter Matkovich.

4/ The club changed its name in 2017 as part of a transformation and development programme which embraced the renaming of the city to Mbombela in 2009. The capital of Mpumalanga lies in a fertile valley, making it a key agricultural area. The nearest entrance to the Kruger National Park is the Malelane Gate, 60 kilometres away. The Kruger International Airport is 27 kilometres from the city.

5/ Brandon Stone had a hole-in-one at 17 in the final round to win the 2010 SA Boys Strokeplay title from Christiaan Bezuidenhout. The matchplay title went to Luke Jerling.

6/ The club hosted the SA Women’s Teams Championship in May 2022. Samantha Whately (CCJ) won the 72-hole individual title on 10-under 278, with a best round of 67. Mbombela hosted the men’s Premier Interprovincial for the first time in September 2019.

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
Mbombela is thought to be South Africa's oldest 18-hole true bushveld course. And it survives in one of our major cities, undisturbed by all the development around it. True bushveld layouts can be found in several different regions, principally in the north of the country, and are defined by the range of mature indigenous trees framing and shaping the holes (Mbombela has some majestic ancient giants); dry conditions which allow for firm and unpredictable fairway bounces (Mbombela's sloping fairways need to be carefully navigated); rough veld grass off the fairway; and a diverse variety of wildlife sharing the course with golfers (the scorecard innovatively has a lengthy checklist of creatures to tick off). A multitude of bird species can be spotted, although you have to play early in the day to do that. Snakes too. I was shown a few cracks among the rocky koppies and trees where deadly black mambas reside. Other than the greens being too soft for my liking (the heat) Mbombela was a treat to play.
Stuart McLean
25 March 2022
A friendly club in the heart of Nelspruit and a course well worth the visit. We stayed at the Matumi Golf Lodge on the ninth fairway, where you can cool off by the pool while watching play on the golf course.
Roy Jones
30 December 2020
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Whoever said that golf wasn’t exercise hasn’t walked Mbombela! Such a lovely undulating course lined with the most magnificent trees. The course is punishing if you aren’t accurate.
Tara Swart
24 December 2020
Pleasant course, although lack of rain has affected its look. Greens receptive and faster than they look. Tree-lined fairways always in play, and you have to keep the ball "down the middle" or you're in trouble.
Graham Rhodes
10 December 2020
Mbombela has hundreds of the most beautiful bushveld trees framing its fairways. Each of the 18 holes is named after a particular tree species found on the property. The most striking specimen is the Marula, of which there are several ancient giants, notably one behind the eighth green. Another stands behind No 12. The course has a number of excellent par 4s of varying distances, each with its own challenge, as Mbombela is a course where being on the fairway off the tee is generally essential to scoring well. And the greens, designed by Peter Matkovich, are superb. The course is dry at present, with little rain in the Lowveld, yet nothing wrong with that in bushveld surroundings.
Stuart McLean
01 December 2020
Mbombela is a beautiful layout set out on varied terrain and a good test of shot making. The Par 3s are particularly enjoyable and vary in length from 110m to 205m. The opening hole is a true challenge and it is unusual to begin on the Stroke 1. Mbombela is a good addition to any Mpumalanga tour combined with Highland Gate and Kambaku.
Jon James
29 November 2020

Mbombela (Nelspruit) is a wonderful course with a great variety of holes. I think the overall conditioning has suffered a little from lockdown. This has impacted the fairways more than other areas. Greens are in good condition. Carry lots of water as it can get seriously hot in summer.

Doron Neuhaus
20 November 2020

Played a practice round in January with my son Leonard before SA U-15 Champs (he led after round one), then walked it for 3 days. Hot and humid and a great challenge. The area was experiencing a drought then.

Leon Bevan
14 April 2020
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