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Randpark Bushwillow

Randburg - Gauteng

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General manager: Vacant
Golf manager: Vacant
Superintendent: Fanie Bester
Club captain: Thiruven Naidoo
President: Dewald Cillie
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 64.5 out of 100
Conditioning11.2 / 20
Playability14.0 / 20
Aesthetics10.0 / 15
Design Variety10.5 / 15
Shot Values9.3 / 15
Memorability9.5 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

Yellow 6540 metres, CR73.4/128
White 6330 metres, CR72.4/126
Gold 5930 metres, CR70.4/123
Red 5477 metres, CR67.9/116
Women’s gold, CR76.7/138
Women’s red, CR73.8/132

Visitor green fee

R485 Monday-Tuesday
R550 Wed-Friday, Sunday PM
R850 Saturday, Sunday AM

Course designer

AF Tomsett, J Naven 1941
Bob Grimsdell 1954
Sean Quinn (Golf Data) 2012

Contact

011 215 8600
www.randpark.co.za

Previous ranking

75 (2023), 72 (2022) & 63 (2021)

The Bushwillow is the older of the two courses at Randpark, and this attractive and shady Bob Grimsdell parkland design began life in the early 1940s as Windsor Park. The club was founded in 1940 and it became an 18-holer in 1948. Grimsdell then performed an extensive redesign with the course as we know it today re-opening in 1954.

It was a relatively short but tight layout until being revamped in 2012 by Golf Data designer Sean Quinn, and stretched out to 6 540 metres. It’s an excellent test of golf, with its doglegs, water hazards, and creatively shaped greens. And it remains narrow in many places.

Bushwillow is very different from the bigger and wider Firethorn, with many more trees lining the fairways, so accuracy off the tee is key to low scoring.

Randpark Club has made a statement in recent years in establishing themselves as one of Gauteng’s premier golf destinations. It has become one of the leading social golf clubs in the country by morphing from a golf club into a community lifestyle club. The upstairs terrace bar of the clubhouse overlooking the course is the place to be on festive occasions.

And their two outstanding golf courses are a big part of the growing appeal of Randpark. The club’s metamorphosis began in 2011 with a four-year R26-million investment into the upgrade of its courses by Golf Data. They were modernised and rebranded in 2013 as Firethorn and Bushwillow. In recent years the courses have hosted five tri-sanctioned tournaments between the European Tour, Asian Tour and Sunshine Tour, the 2018, 2020 and 2021 Joburg Open, and SA Open in 2019 and 2020.

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

62, Louis Oosthuizen, 2018 SA Open; Johannes Veerman, 2020 SA Open

Note: Shubhankar Sharma shot 61 in 2017 Joburg Open. It did not count as official course record as preferred lies were allowed.

Feature Holes

The course begins with two attractive par 5s in the first three holes where birdies are up for grabs for longer hitters. The third is a superb risk-and-reward par 5, 448 metres from the club tees, where a good drive sets up the question of whether to brave going for the green in two. There’s water fronting the right side of the green, and a bunker short on the left. Bushwillow has a strong finish, with the 378m 16th one of the best par 4s at Randpark. It curves right to left with a stream the entire length of the hole on the left. That’s followed by a long par 5 with water guarding the green.

Practice Facility

Excellent double-storey floodlit range open to public until 7pm each day (last bucket sold at 6pm). Visit Driving Range For Those Wanting To Put In Extra Practice (randpark.co.za) for operating times. There are 40 covered bays adjoining clubhouse. Free access with every bucket of balls to the Inrange multiplayer golf experience. Driving range membership is available. There is a fitting and repair centre. Teaching pros Stuart Blackie and Darren Witter. Practice putting greens close to first tee.

Accommodation

The Fairway Hotel adjoining the Randpark clubhouse and overlooking the first tee of the Firethorn course has rooms and suites, plus 7 Golf Villas, each with a four-bedroom unit and braai area. Ideal for golf groups.

SA Open Championship

Randpark hosted two SA Opens in January 2020 (won by Branden Grace with a record equalling total of 263) and December 2018 (Louis Oosthuizen 266), plus the rain-interrupted 2021 Joburg Open (Thriston Lawrence 130), 2020 Joburg Open (Joachim Hansen 265) and 2018 Joburg Open (Shubhankar Sharma 264). The club’s link with the SA Open began with the 1995 championship (Retief Goosen 275) and 2000 Open (Swede Mathias Gronberg 274). In 2019 Randpark became the first 36-hole facility to host the SA Open using both their courses for the championship’s first two rounds, accommodating a field of 240 players.

Did You Know

1/ A low score on the Bushwillow is key to winning tournaments at Randpark. Shubhankar Sharma had 10 birdies in a 61 in winning the 2018 Joburg Open with a 23-under score of 264. Louis Oosthuizen opened with 62 at Bushwillow in winning the 2019 SA Open on 18-under 266. Both courses were par 71 for the SA Open.

2/ Randpark has a Health & Wellness Centre, and running track access (for members only).

3/ The club has a fleet of 60 carts and specialises in hosting corporate “one-stop shop” golf days.

Club Champions

2023 Chris Scheppel & Cara Ford
2022 Conner MacKenzie & Lauren Clough
2021 Darren Quirk & Cara Ford
2020 Erwee Botha & Kim Turget
2019 Johan Aucamp & Cara Ford

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Course Reviews
The Randpark pro shop is in a brilliant new location at the new clubhouse entrance (through the water fountain) and looks amazing. Reception has moved opposite the pro shop which makes sense. The grave (wall featuring past administrators) has been thankfully replaced by large panoramic photos of golf courses. Indeed, the walk to 19th is now more welcoming.
Sabelo
29 May 2024
Bushwillow reopened last weekend after closing for two months, most welcome as Randpark members have struggled to get a game in that time with only the Firethorn open. Bushwillow's diseased greens were redone. We started on 10, one of the greens most affected in March. There had been a temporary green before closure. The new green, while not easy to putt on, was an improvement. Other bad greens were 4-5-8-17 and are all in a state of recovery though some face a long winter. No 4 green appears to have made the best improvement. However, only three greens are in top condition, 1-9-18. The fairways look great, perhaps undercut but understandable in the circumstances. However, tee boxes and the rest of the course don’t reflect the two-month hiatus. The areas surrounding greens have seen better days with developing patches owing to “poor maintenance.” After the greens have been sorted, the next focus area must be tee boxes and general look and feel caused by lack of clearing of leaves, and non-removal of grass cuttings. Frustrating to lose a ball in leaves close to a fairway.
Sabelo
29 May 2024
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Bushwillow remains closed until the end of May, which has meant Randpark members only having one course to use for the past two months at this 36-hole facility. The greens were impacted by pythium disease, exacerbated by summer weather conditions, and three greens (5-10-17) failed to respond to treatment. It was discovered they had suffered prolonged water-logging due to poor drainage. It is likely that all three greens will need reconstruction. Randpark's clubhouse renovations are proceeding well, and the new pro shop is open as well as the reception area.
Stuart McLean
20 May 2024
Bushwillow is closed for three weeks due to a pythium infection of its bent grass greens which rendered the course unputtable. The reason given for the greens being vulnerable to disease is poor maintenance practices. All 18 greens have been verticut this week. That will be followed by a machine gradening process which removes thatch build up. Deep cut grooves will be filled with sand, and then overseeding will commence with an expected germination period of 14 days. Full recovery of the greens is expected within 6 to 8 weeks. The closure is an inconvenience for members, and the Randpark club championships have had to be postponed.
Stuart McLean
27 March 2024
Bushwillow's greens took a while to recover from hollowtining at the end of January. They were slow but playable. However, yesterday proved a shocking experience as they have become blighted by a disease affecting the leafy part of the grass but not the roots. The first green was furry, and the second was a surreal sight. It resembled a leopard with brown spots on a green surface. A poor surface but puttable. We had been warned that three greens had been hollowtined again and replaced with temporary greens. And No 2 wasn't one of them. The third and fourth greens looked worse than No 2. The first temporary green came at No 5. Disappointingly, it had been mown in a slapdash way. The fairway didn’t appear to have been cut so the temporary green was the height of the uncut fairway. The line drawn to demarcate the “green” was invisible from 50m away. Other than the ninth and 18th the greens were in various stages of ruination. Coupled with this the tee boxes are struggling. No 6 is playing short (121m) as the club is investigating the safety of the bridge to the tee box.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
22 March 2024
This attractive parkland layout has typical Grimsdell design features. Interesting holes, with a risk-reward flavour as opposed to a "drive-wedge" setup. Par 3s are fun. No 8 is stroke 6 and plays a touch uphill, well-guarded by bunkers and a drop-off short and right of the green. Greens in good shape and running well, yet the rest is regretfully poor, particularly tee boxes and bunkers. Randpark generally keeps a high standard of conditioning but not on my visit. Bushwillow was untidy, with weak attention to detail. I frequently found my ball in an unkempt area, even close to the fairway. Service at the 19th remains good with a great menu and atmosphere, notably at weekends.
Jon James
06 February 2024
Bushwillow is a test of accuracy off the tee. The par-5 opener provides an early indication of the challenges ahead. You play to a hidden green set well below the fairway. The greens are in excellent shape and running true. The finishing stretch on the front nine consists of a good set of holes. The uphill par-3 8th is demanding with the prevailing breeze in play. The par-4 9th is narrow with a well-protected green. The Randpark "Gauntlet" (holes 15-17) is a fun section (short 3, demanding 4 and reachable 5). The challenge to members is to play this in 10 shots or less. You then get your name on the honours board at the Gauntlet sign. Bushwillow has a number of Grimsdell design characteristics, with risk and reward often a feature. A welcome change from Gauteng "bomb-and-wedge" courses. Good service and a relaxed 19th.
Jon James
26 July 2023
The new creek cutting across the fairway on the dogleg par-4 4th at Bushwillow is already looking presentable. The creek, which crosses about 100 metres from the green of this challenging 392-metre hole, and then runs between the tees of the adjoining par-5 third hole, was excavated this year to deal with excess water from a borehole which mostly ended up on the third fairway. The bunker on the right of the fairway, which was always wet, has been closed. Bushwillow, despite all the rain last week, is looking good.
Sabelo
12 December 2022
The wet summer exacted a toll on Bushwillow and it has not yet recovered, notably the third and fourth holes. The greens have sand on them, frustrating when playing in the morning as the wet ball picks this sand up. And some putts jag offline after hitting tiny pebbles. Some fairways have helpfully been widened to improve playability, particularly No 14. Being the shorter of the two courses at Randpark, Bushwillow rewards straight and long drives but punishes wild tee shots. The bunkers are generally good even with soft fluffy sand. Thankfully the leaves on and off the fairways, which made it hard to find a golf ball, are no longer as troublesome as they were in autumn and early winter. Losing a ball in that manner was a common annoyance. Hopefully next summer will restore the Bushwillow to its proper level of quality.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
25 July 2022
The aesthetics on both Randpark courses is excellent, with beautiful trees, rocky koppies, streams and vegetation in abundance. The Bushwillow in particular is a pleasant walk through nature. The left side of the opening hole is bordered by suburban homes, and what an outlook they have from their gardens. No 1 is a terrific par 5, possibly the best at Randpark, climbing a slight hill off the tee, and then swooping sharply right downhill to a delightful bunkerless green hidden away in a dip. Clever use of the terrain, attractive and interesting, and after this promising start the rest of the course does not disappoint. The third is another superb par 5 where water hazards and a beautiful green design scores it high in my books. Bushwillow is about positioning your tee shots, and few courses punish you quite so severely for being on the wrong side of the fairway as this often does. The club golfer will find this a strong test in both length and the protection of its greens. Add in the excellent conditioning and it's easy to see why it is one of the most popular and underrated courses in SA.
Stuart McLean
21 March 2022
With the demise of the Firethorn greens the Bushwillow course has seen more rounds at Randpark. Greens are softer than they were during winter but still harder than most greens should be after so much rain. Whereas other greens look blue green these look yellow green. Hard in the middle and soft on the edges meaning one has to play a shorter club. The condition of the greens is good but playability so so. Fairways looking good though the wet spots are numerous and fairways are hence much softer. Bunkers vary with some fairway bunkers having too much sand on the lip. Greenside bunkers are excellent. The sluit through the course is looking better with the rains but ugly to look at around the 14th. Tee boxes were absolutely dead and buried but are making a comeback.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
21 December 2021
Bushwillow is always fun to play. I like the variety of holes and the flow of the 18 (even more than Firethorn). The conditioning is not quite the same as its neighbour, noticeably in the patchy first and second cut of the fairways. The greens are consistent though and in just as good a condition. A round on Bushwillow always feels a more relaxing day out versus Firethorn, which marks the difference in difficulty between the two.
Chris Wood
18 January 2021
The Bushwillow unfortunately did not have its best winter. The greens were slow and bumpy, and there were water leaks on many holes. It's still a fun course to play though if you stay out of the trees. Bunker rakes are now back on the course after a confusing period of foot-raking, placing in the bunkers, providing mini-rakes, and then running out of them.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
12 September 2020
Greens generally in great condition and the course is well maintained. A course of this quality should be frequented more often, but players visiting Randpark usually opt for Firethorn being the championship course.
Sandor Kovacs
18 April 2020
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