Kathu, Northern Cape - ​Northern Cape & Free State

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General manager: Philip Adamson
Golf director: Theunis Spangenberg
Greenkeeper: Franco Vermeulen (STM)
Chairman: John Langeveldt
Club captain: Tommie Pearson
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 76.8 out of 100
Conditioning15.6 / 20
Playability15.6 / 20
Aesthetics13.0 / 15
Design Variety11.7 / 15
Shot Values10.2 / 15
Memorability10.7 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

Yellow 6657 metres, CR74.8/143
White 6421 metres, CR73.3/142
Blue 5714 metres, CR70.2/131
Red 5384 metres, CR68.2/126
Women’s blue, CR77.0/146
Women’s red, CR74.4/140

Visitor green fee

Affiliated R350
Non-affiliated R500
Golf cart R240

Course designer

Bob Grimsdell 1979


053 050 5727

Previous ranking


This isolated golf course on the edge of the Kalahari desert is one of the world’s least played golfing gems. It majestically reposes in a forest of ancient Kameeldoring trees that are a dominant feature of the layout and add character to each and every hole. Playing golf there is tranquil beyond measure and the course has been kept in outstanding condition for the last 40 years. 

It was the last work of Bob Grimsdell’s lengthy course design career, and one of his best. Sishen is currently superb, the bent grass greens having been resurfaced by Southern Turf Management at the end of 2018. 

Grimsdell was brought to the remote Kalahari in the late 1970s by management of the Kumba mine when he was 80 years old, and he left a wonderful legacy, a design that speaks volumes for his routing and creative talents. The original brief was for 9 holes, but he realised it had to be 18 on such a special site. Many of Grimsdell’s courses are from an earlier era in the game – he built the East Course at Royal J&K in the 1930s – and at Sishen he had earth-moving machinery. Original Grimsdell greens were plain in shape, but at Sishen he built elevated and sloping greens of a kind you rarely see in South Africa.

There’s not a weak hole to be found at Sishen. Each one has its own individual strategy, and the taller Kameeldoring trees provide aerial hazards for golfers far more effective than bunkers or water hazards. Some even stand in the middle of fairways, and so impenetrable they can dent the impact of a well-struck drive like casually swatting a fly. The golf ball comes off second best!

Sishen today has a modern clubhouse and houses have been built among the holes as part of the Kalahari Country Club estate developed by former Springbok rugby coach Andre Markgraaff. The course nevertheless retains a tranquil atmosphere. Springbok and impala roam the fairways.

The people of Kathu are extremely hospitable to visitors.

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

61 by Theunis Spangenberg in 2005 club championship.

Feature Holes

Golf director Theunis Spangenberg enjoys the 326-metre 14th, as it is the only shortish par 4 where it is possible to drive the green. The 472m sixth is a good risk-and-reward par 5 with water in front of the green. The 371m 18th is not long, but it’s a tight finishing hole with a raised green and another water hazard guarding the front. The ninth and 18th run parallel to each other, separated by the bush, and share the same large water hazard.


There are numerous guest houses in Kathu. Recommended on the golf estate are Mongoose (12 rooms) and Kathuhari (8).


There are daily flights to Kathu from OR Tambo on SAA Express; also smaller planes from Lanseria.

Practice Facility

Excellent 300-metre long range which can accommodate 25 golfers, plus a 500-square metre putting green in front of clubhouse, and chipping green.

Men's Club Champion

2020 Theunis Spangenberg
2019 Lyle Pedro (age 15)

Did You Know

1/ The town of Kathu is built within a kameeldoring (camel thorn) forest and is known as “The town under trees.” The 4000-hectare forest, with trees that are hundreds of years old, has been registered as a natural heritage site. The town originated in the late 1960s when iron ore was first mined in the Kalahari. Kathu had one of the world’s largest open-cast iron ore mines. In the boom years it had a population of 40 000. Trains take the ore to Saldanha Bay nearly 1000 kilometres away.

2/ Sishen Golf Club is part of the Kalahari Country Club, which offers a variety of sports and leisure pursuits. There is a state-of-the-art gym on site.

3/ Sishen is remote. The nearest 18-hole course is at Upington, 214 kilometres away; the nearest Top 100 course is 460km, Bloemfontein.

4/ Golf director Theunis Spangenberg, who holds the course record, won the 2011 Zimbabwe Open on Sunshine Tour, and nearly won the 2016 Vodacom Origins at Sishen, losing a playoff to Jacques Blaauw after they had tied on 10-under-par 206.

5/ The Sunshine Tour regularly visits, and the lowest tournament round has been 63, by Jean Hugo and Ulrich van den Berg in the 2010 Vodacom Origins

Course and Facilities Rating
Conditioning Ratings
Overall Conditioning
Facility Ratings
Pace of Play
Practice Range
Halfway House
Pro Shop
Locker Room
19th Hole
Course Etiquette
Course Reviews
This past weekend the Northern Cape Open was at Sishen Golf Club. Wow and Wow! Sishen has always been on my bucket list and to play the course in a GolfRSA tournament was even better. I travelled to Kathu from the Western Cape. This is the best course I have played, best layout, best conditions. And one of the toughest courses off the tee I have played. Great test of golf from tee to green. Well done Sishen and thank you once again.
Brendan Smith
30 March 2021
Sishen has to be one of the most unique and enjoyable courses I’ve played. The Kameeldoring trees, nicknamed ‘sky bunkers’, provide an added test to the round. I was impressed by how warm and welcoming the staff were to visitors.
Tara Swart
12 December 2020
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Wonderful experience playing at Sishen. The layout is fantastic with each hole unique and perfectly crafted into the Kameeldoring forest. The greens and bunkers were superb and the overall playability exceptional.
Amy Laird
12 December 2020
The course is in magnificent shape. We have been touring to Kathu for 23 years and have never experienced the fairways in such awesome condition.
Jacques Swart
11 November 2020
First time visit to Sishen. Best layout I have played in years. Played it 5 times in 3 days and each round felt like the first time and a new course. Very true greens. Conditions were great after good rains. Every golfer needs to experience this!
Jannie Durr
10 November 2020
Fantastic golf course which has a special place in my heart having grown up there in the Northern Cape. One of the best layouts in SA. The course challenges you in every way possible, and its natural beauty is what makes it special. The facilities for a country golf club is very good. Every golfer should try and make the journey to Kathu to enjoy this rare experience.
Ben Fouchee
09 November 2020
The recent upgrade to the greens justifies the high regard golfers currently have for Sishen.
Sello Sease
16 April 2020
Sishen will always be one of the best courses to play in South Africa, a hidden gem. The Grimsdell design gives you the opportunity to test every aspect of your game. You have not played golf until you play Sishen.
Theunis spangenberg
15 March 2020
Excellent new greens have enhanced the playing experience.
Don Jansen
08 March 2020
Vast improvement to the course the last 12 months under STM and in best condition since 2016. Service in pro shop, reception and bar/halfway house needs to improve. Welcome addition of new halfway kiosk in clubhouse.
Francois Mulder
08 March 2020
Staying at the attractive Mongoose B&B on the first fairway a short walk from clubhouse, a tranquil setting in the kameeldoring forest. Sishen is simply a unique golfing experience, and you need to stay a few days to appreciate it. The majestic trees add an aura to the environment, and are constantly in play. The new bent grass greens are magnificent, and cynodon grass fairways provide for more run and excellent ball/turf contact.
Stuart McLean
08 March 2020
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