White 6394 metres, CR72.9/128
Blue 6094 metres, CR71.3/125
Red 5417 metres, CR67.6/122
Women’s blue, CR77.6/144
Women’s red, CR73.1/135
R300 Tuesday-Friday, Sunday
Bob Grimsdell 1957
051 101 0619
Schoeman Park is an old-fashioned 1950s layout that has stayed much the same from when it was built to the present day. Although unconfirmed, it almost certainly is a Bob Grimsdell design. Only a professional course architect could have devised such an interesting and challenging layout.
It certainly proved an excellent test for two generations of pro golfers from the 1970s through to the 1990s. Schoeman Park was home to 10 Sunshine Tour events in Bloemfontein during this era – five from 1970-74, five from 1988-1992 – while Bloemfontein GC traditionally hosted the SA Golf Union championships.
Schoeman Park is one of the country’s oldest clubs, long associated with the railways who own the land. Scotsmen working for the Railway Institute founded the club in 1904. There still remains a train carriage next to the first tee. When the club moved to its new course adjoining Bloemfontein GC, it was renamed after Ben Schoeman, South Africa’s Minister of Transport 1954-1974, who worked on steam trains as a driver and fireman.
The golf course has plenty of character, with its tree-lined holes continually changing direction, which can also be said of Bloemfontein next door. The front nine, at 3032 metres, is considerably shorter than the back, wherein lie nine exceedingly strong holes. The front nine is where you make your birdies – Mark McNulty birdied the first seven holes on his way to a 61 in the 1988 Bloemfontein Classic – because 10-18 is a question of hanging on to what you have. The par 4s are all difficult, and 17 is a 204-metre par 3.
The course still retains shallow concrete-lined ponds close to some greens, a throwback to the past. But they do allow easy recovery of a golf ball.
Both Schoeman Park and Bloemfontein GC have attractive single-storey clubhouses. But Schoeman Park, in respect to tradition, have retained the look of their old 19th hole with its original wood panelling and bar counter.
Schoeman Park has been home to several Sunshine Tour champions, and their large images are proudly displayed on the outside deck of the clubhouse. They include Ian Palmer, Jbe Kruger, Dean Burmester, Alex Haindl and Hendrik Buhrmann.
61, Mark McNulty in 1988 Bloemfontein Classic
2023 Stefan Griessel & Mia Rossouw
2022 Stefan Griessel & Chinell Becker
2021 Erik Hattingh & Chinell Becker
2019 Dawie Labuschagne & Renette Olivier
There is a long range behind the clubhouse adjoining the tenth fairway.
1/ Retief Goosen had his first big Sunshine Tour win as a 22-year-old in the January 1992 Spoornet Classic at Schoeman Park, despite shooting 76 in the second round. The event wasn’t played again. Other pro winners were Allan Henning (1970), Peter Oosterhuis (1971), Terry Westbrook (1971), Dale Hayes (1973), Cobie Le Grange (1974), Jeff Hawkes (1988), Tony Johnstone (1988), Des Terblanche (1989) and John Bland (1990).
2/ A legend of SA women’s golf, Alison Sheard, won the SA Amateur “double” of strokeplay and matchplay titles at Schoeman Park in 1978. Another Hall of Famer, Gill Tebbutt, won the 2000 SA women’s Strokeplay, and Vanessa Smith the matchplay crown.
3/ Schoeman Park hosted the 1995 men’s SA Amateur where Warren Abery beat Jean Hugo in the final. Mark Murless won the SA Strokeplay.
4/ Dylan Frittelli won the 2008 SA Junior Matchplay crown at Schoeman Park.
1/ Club professional Ian Palmer celebrated 50 years as a club member in 2021 and then retired at the end of 2022. A Bloemfontein boy, he played Nuffield Schools cricket for Free State in 1976 with Kepler Wessels and competed on the European Tour, winning the 1992 Johnnie Walker Classic and 1993 Jersey Open. His biggest Sunshine Tour victory was the 1985 Wild Coast Classic. He was the club pro for 25 years following his semi-retirement from tournament golf.
2/ When Schoeman Park celebrated its centenary in 2004, they had a special guest speaker in Ernie Els, a friend of Palmer’s, who memorably stayed up throughout the night with members. The first tournament Els played as a professional – after winning the Sunshine Tour Q School at Randfontein in October 1989 – was a few weeks later in the Bloemfontein Classic, won by Des Terblanche on 278. Els shot 290.
3/ Mark McNulty had an 11-under 61 in the third round of the 1988 Bloemfontein Classic. He began the round with 7 straight birdies to turn in 29. But he failed to win the tournament, as an opening 74 had left him 10 shots behind Jeff Hawkes, who won by one.
4/ There are three instances in South Africa where separate golf clubs share a common boundary fence between 18-hole courses. Schoeman Park and Bloemfontein GC, George GC and Kingswood in the Garden Route, and Royal J&K and Huddle Park in Johannesburg. Courses separated by a road are Rondebosch and King David Mowbray, Durban CC and Windsor Park. Separated by the Vaal River are Maccauvlei and Riviera.
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.