Free State / Northern Cape Top 10
8

Oppenheimer Park

Welkom, Free State - ​Northern Cape & Free State

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Manager: Shauline Sheppard
President: Colin Smith
Captain: Gert Nieuwoudt
Greenkeeper: Shawn Cromarty

Course Summary

Three tees / Par 72

White 6361 metres, CR71.9/126
Blue 5617 metres, CR68.3/123
Red 5136 metres, CR65.0/114
Women’s blue, CR75.0/137
Women’s red, CR70.9/128

Visitor green fee

Weekdays R240 affiliated &
R120 after 3pm; R300 non-affiliated & R150; R120 Seniors
Saturdays R250 & R300
Sundays R150

Course designer

Bob Grimsdell, 1951

Contact

057 353 2131
opgc@internext.co.za
www.opgc.co.za

Oppenheimer Park was for many years one of South Africa’s Top 100 courses until the rising water levels of the neighbouring Witpan Dam meant some holes had to be closed due to flooding. With the future of the club in doubt it was decided to redesign the course by removing the playing areas from the high water mark to alleviate the issue. The new course was opened in March 2022. It is slightly shorter than the old layout.

There are six new holes, four new greens, and three renovated greens, all on the front nine. The course is a green forested oasis in the midst of the Welkom mine dumps. Access to the clubhouse is through the mine property, although poorly signposted.

Welkom was established as a town, later a city, following the discovery of gold in the area in the 1940s, and Oppenheimer Park Golf Club was founded in 1949, named after Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, the diamond and gold mining entrepreneur, who controlled De Beers and the Anglo American Corporation. They owned many of the area’s gold mines.

The AAC developed the golf club and commissioned Bob Grimsdell to design an 18-hole course, which opened for play in March 1951 together with the clubhouse. AAC maintained the club until it was privatised in 1998.

The course was soon recognised as one of the best in the Free State, and it hosted the SA Ladies Amateur in 1973, followed in 1981 by the first of three men’s SA Amateurs. Others followed in 1988 and 2001. The Sunshine Tour came for the first time in February 1999 with Oppenheimer Park the venue for the SA Masters.

When Desvonde Botes won the SA Masters on a 19-under total of 269 following a final round 64, the finishing hole was then the current ninth, a 414-metre par 4 framed by an avenue of trees. The nines were switched a few years after that. The course now concludes with a 530-metre par 5. A new tee has seen the opening hole extended by 75 metres to make it a par 5. The old second, previously a par 5, is now a 254-metre par 4 with an island green, a signature hole. The current fourth is an entirely new hole, a 524-metre par 5 which is stroke 1.

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

59 by club pro Morne Buys on November 17 2021

61 by Justin Hobday in first round of 1999 SA Masters. He holed his second shot on the first hole for an eagle two and had six birdies to turn in 28.

62 by Dean Lambert in the 2001 SA Strokeplay, a record low round for the championship.

Club Champions

2022 Werner Holtzhausen & Mariana Payne
2021 George Brown & Shauline Sheppard

TOURNAMENT WINNERS

David Suddards won the 1981 SA Amateur, beating David Frost in the final. Neville Clarke beat Ernie Els on the 40th hole of the 1988 Amateur final, after earlier winning the SA Strokeplay title on 283. In 2001 the Amateur champion was Englishman David Dixon, who prevailed against Dean Lambert in the final. Richard Sterne won the SA Strokeplay on 266 from Lambert, who won the Proudfoot Trophy with a record 62-67=129. Jenny Bruce (Amateur) and Cheran Gerber (Strokeplay) won at the 1973 SA Ladies.

The Sunshine Tour’s Goldfields Classic in 2001 was won by Callie Swart on 207.

Did You Know

1/ The club’s crest is that of the Giant Dragon Lizard, Cordylus giganteus, locally known as the Ou Volk lizard. During construction of the course they were found in abundance. There is a magnificent replica at the entrance door to the clubhouse done by local artist Sandy Barnard.

2/ Oppenheimer Park hosted the SA Junior Interprovincial in 1976, 1983 and 1994, plus the SA Junior Boys in 2000 which had to be abandoned after one round due to heavy rain.

3/ Oppenheimer Park featured in the Golf Digest rankings from 1998 to 2010. It appeared five times in the Top 50, and in 2000 was ranked at a high of No 36.

4/ Another 18-hole course, just 18 kilometres away in Virginia, is Sand River Golf Club.

5/ Adjoining the club is Brand Mashie, a Par 3 course with 9 greens and 18 tees, not part of Oppenheimer Park.

Practice Facility

Spacious range close to clubhouse.

ACCOMMODATION

Uitsig Boutique Hotel
Mantovani Guesthouse

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