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
Group (12+) R320
Bob Grimsdell 1943/1966,
Peter Matkovich 1998
013 744 0952
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 dog sits behind the 18th green. 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.
63 by Hendrik Stoop, Matt Spacey,
2014 Mpumalanga Open
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.
No range, but there is a practice tee where golfers can hit own balls down 18th fairway. Practice nets.
Rohan Greyvenstein & Mary Ann Braithwaite
1/ The original Nelspruit GC was founded in 1928, and because of the summer heat and humidity golf was only played between April and October.
2/ Bobby Locke and Peter Thomson played an exhibition match on the 9-holer in 1957.
3/ The property includes the Matumi residential estate developed in the late 1990s, and 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.
5/ Mbombela is the capital of Mpumalanga and 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.
6/ Jock of the Bushveld week began 1968. Played over 8 days in May 2019 with 1426 rounds.
7/ The club hosted the men’s Premier Interprovincial for the first time in September 2019.
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.
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.
If you've played this course recently, why not tell us all about it? Follow the link to our review section, complete our grading criteria and give us some details on your experience. If selected, your review will appear amongst the course’s collection of player reviews.