Kathu, Northern Cape - ​Northern Cape & Free State

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General manager: Philip Adamson
Golf director: Theunis Spangenberg
Greenkeeper: Franco Vermeulen (STM)
Chairman: Herby van Rensburg
Club captain: De Goede Haasbroek
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 79.8 out of 100
Conditioning16.0 / 20
Playability15.6 / 20
Aesthetics13.1 / 15
Design Variety12.0 / 15
Shot Values11.0 / 15
Memorability12.1 / 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

R450 affiliated
R550 non-affiliated
Golf cart R350

Course designer

Bob Grimsdell 1979


053 050 5727

Previous ranking

14 (2023), 13 (2022) & 13 (2021)

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

2023 Andrew Malgas
2022 & 2021 Lionel Pedro
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. The lowest tournament round is 63, by Jean Hugo and Ulrich van den Berg in the 2010 Vodacom Origins. Hugo had an ace at No 8 and a front nine of 29. The 2022 Sishen Classic over 72 holes was won by Deon Germishuys on 271 after a closing 64.

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Course Reviews
A beautiful layout, designed to be at one with the forest of Camelthorn trees. A proper tournament course too.
Guy Lesch
13 May 2024
First time at Sishen after being on my bucket list for 20 years. During our week-long Senior Interprovincial I played it 10 times. Intriguing and interesting to say the least. The piece of land the designer worked with is flat, providing a challenge to create interesting and diverse features. However, he was blessed with the unique Kathu vegetation which ultimately enhanced and contributed towards the challenges, playability and general layout. Following my first round in 40km winds, I was not impressed as it seemed many holes resembled one another. So many kameeldoring trees featured as fairway & approach hazards. Not knowing where and what club to tee off with was unnerving, as I realised this was the key to unlocking the course. A well-placed tee shot was paramount to a good score on a hole. A slightly errant one often resulted in a drop. As the week progressed and we played in calmer weather and different tees, I came to appreciate the design elements. I realised the average golfer would struggle to score here as they would not have the skills in line with their handicap. However, many would be enamoured and enchanted by the contrast of the harsh thorn veld surrounds and well-conditioned fairways and greens, along with ever-present springbok, meerkats and mongooses. A delight for anyone who appreciates wildlife and nature. The greens had too much of the same characteristics. At least 80% were precisely the same design, significantly raised with severe slopes back to front. In the IPT they were running at 11 and many forward pins created challenging putts when above the hole. The course would be a better experience if several fairway trees were removed and the greens were more diverse. Any ball that left the fairway found challenging rough and animal burrows. Fairway bunkers were few but could have been better designed (too shallow and not much of a hazard). Greenside bunkers were superb as they had both depth and design variety. Greens were in superb condition in terms of the golf ball roll and the tees well-presented and much depth. Fairways had no shaping and relied on the kameeldoring trees and rough as their defence. The rough alone provided enough defence and I would love to have seen more shaping of fairways and more friendly green designs. Given its remote location, it is commendable they have such a superbly presented course and it is a gem. However, when compared to a similar course in terms of harsh bushveld conditions, like Elements, I consider Elements superior. Sishen is deserving of a ranking between 20 and 30 which in itself is an accomplishment given its remoteness.
Kevin Curren
30 April 2024
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Sishen is equivalent in excellence to Leopard Creek, The Links at Fancourt, and Gary Player CC. But the green fee is a fraction of what you will pay at those courses. It's a bucket list destination in South Africa. Recent rain has put Sishen in excellent condition. Tee shots must be positioned in the correct part of the fairway in order to have a straight shot at the green. Otherwise, you have to improvise with a high/low draw or fade. Greens were holding nicely in the Senior Interprovincial, smooth and quick, sand in bunkers consistent, fairways well covered and no need to place. It pays to stay out of the rough with so many trees and animal burrows.
Henry. Trevena
23 April 2024
It is impossible to put into words the superb condition and overall playability of Sishen. It is without doubt the best conditioned course in South Africa and rivals Leopard Creek and The Links at Fancourt. Sishen is amazing in that you never play a back-to-back par 3 or par 5, and the ninth and 10th holes are the only back-to-back par 4s. Recent rains have certainly brought this course to life. Sishen is a “players” course. You need to be able to shape shots and adapt launch angle to navigate certain holes. Amazing!
Greg Woodbridge
19 April 2024
Stunning gem of a course and a beautiful oasis in the dry Northern Cape. Attractive Camelthorn trees. Challenging, special layout. Love the people. What an experience.
Paul Kemppff
28 November 2023
Attractive layout with doglegs going against each other which requires one to shape the shots both ways. The greens are great, and bunkers good. Tranquil and quiet setting in the Northern Cape bushveld.
Greg Woodbridge
15 October 2023
Sishen hosted the 36-hole Northern Cape Senior Open at the weekend and again no one broke par. Gordon Wessels won with 148 and runner-up Greg Gleeson was 154. Icy cold mid-winter weather (3 degrees Sunday morning) played a part, as did firm fairways and greens, and tricky pin placements. Always a tough event for the best senior amateurs who come from around the country to test their skills. In five events at Sishen going back to 2017 the lowest winning score has been 146, and lowest individual round 71. There are some tough par 4s on the back nine, where you can't afford to miss the fairway, and three of them, Nos 12, 16 and 18, yielded just three birdies between them.
Carel Passano
01 August 2023
Excellent experience on a beautiful and well-maintained course. Friendly staff, golf carts are clean and in good condition. Will be back with friends to play again.
Wimpie Espag
04 July 2023
A great course with a high level of difficulty. It needs respect as the numerous kameeldoring trees guarding the fairways (and some greens) will otherwise punish you.
25 June 2023
Sishen offers a great golf experience at a heritage site within a kameeldoring forest. The course is pristine, and every hole a unique moment in this rare setting. New bunker sand is a testament to the constant improvement of the course. The club is not only for golfers but a community hub in Kathu. Nothing better than watching a Northern Cape sunset on the outside deck with a cold drink.
Danny Leibrandt
10 June 2023
Great playing and looking course. Lack of marshalls and service staff. Good food, and allround service is acceptable. But lacking world-class golf course service expectations.
Christiaan Muller
12 May 2023
Sishen's 18 holes never disappoint. What they get right with a limited amount of water is superb. Greens true and quick to the touch. The rough and trees can chew you up if you don't choose your shots carefully. Springbok roam around adding a touch of the Kalahari. Sweltering summer days will make you remember the Kalahari for what it is. Clubhouse was disappointing. Draught taps were empty and service poor.
Wiaan Nel
24 April 2023
I have not enjoyed a course so much in a long time. Sishen is challenging and in great condition. We played 5 rounds over three days, and every subsequent round was more exciting than the one before. What a great course. Well done to the Sishen team.
FJ van Rensburg
24 April 2023
One of the best layouts in SA. The natural beauty of the course and the fact that you never get tired of playing it is what brings golfers back. The greens were the best I've ever seen at Sishen. My only criticism is the lack of definition between fairways and semi-rough. I liked it in the old days when they had beautiful grass paths through the semi to the fairways. I would like to see more grass on the fairways. Sishen is still my favourite course.
Ben Fouchee
21 April 2023
Stunning course. Stunning venue for a golf tour. A truly unique South African golf experience. Highly recommended.
Paul Kempff
20 April 2023
We have an annual tour (Jack Black) to Kathu and play five rounds at Sishen in three days. We have done this for 26 years. It is my second favourite course in SA. Such a great golfing experience!
Jacques De Villiers
20 April 2023
Such a unique experience and definitely worth the long drive from Cape Town.
Tiaan Hattingh
20 April 2023
Enjoyed playing this splendid course. Challenging but absolutely beautiful.
Pieter van Rooyen
20 April 2023
I have played this course 60 times on visits over the last 13 years and still think it has the best layout of any in SA.
Morne Howell
20 April 2023
Sishen is a beautiful, challenging gem. A 24-strong group of us visit every year from different parts of the country (Western Cape and Gauteng) and are never disappointed.
Anton Coetzee
20 April 2023
Excellent course! Well worth the trip.
Andre Joubert
17 April 2023
There's always a warm welcome at Sishen, and the green fees match expectations by far with the course in such exceptional condition. New sand in the bunkers make them difficult.
Gerhard du Preez
11 April 2023
Sishen needs a proper pro shop, and GPS tracking on their golf carts.
Johan Kok
11 April 2023
Sishen should be among SA's top 10 courses. Very challenging in the heart of the Kalahari. Beautiful layout, narrow fairways, with an abundance of trees.
Lester Pietersen
09 April 2023
Most beautiful course in the Northern Cape, and we loved the wildlife so much!
Christe Mirie Burger
09 April 2023
Sishen offers a unique experience with its well-kept course on the edge of the Kalahari and deserves its place in the Top 20. The layout is technically appealing and the wildlife on the estate is an attractive feature.
Anton Viljoen
04 April 2023
New sand in the bunkers and extended tee boxes make Sishen a challenge, not to mention the kameeldoring trees keeping watch for stray shots. The greens are immaculate. A gem of the Kalahari desert region.
Hendrik Jansen
02 April 2023
Challenging course where you get value for good shots and punished for wayward ones.
Fareez Alexander
02 April 2023
Course in good condition, greens fast yet receptive.
Walter Bvekerwa
19 March 2023
Even with all the load shedding that impacts the irrigation systems of many courses, I must say that Sishen looks amazing from tee to green. The new bunker sand has improved how the bunkers are playing. The greens remain among the best I have played. Sishen is hosting the annual Kalahari Challenge and the club has had great feedback from visitors.
Theunis Spangenberg
13 March 2023
My son and I played four rounds here last week. The course is in excellent condition, and the staff most helpful. Some interesting holes and the kameeldoring trees lining the fairways punish wayward shots. Sishen may be remote but is well worth a visit.
Peter Savage
24 February 2023
A wonderful course where you play alongside resident springbok, and in excellent condition. The staff go above and beyond to help.
Stephen Savage
24 February 2023
Hadn't played here for three years and the course is looking better than I remember. Wonderful experience with the friendly staff and animals on the property.
Deon Augustyn
20 February 2023
Friendly staff and affordable top course to play, in good condition and attractive to the eye.
Thieleman Lambrechts
16 February 2023
Greens were brilliant. Fairways in excellent condition. Good service.
Herman de Jager
16 February 2023
It's a long drive to reach Sishen from just about wherever you may live in SA, yet the course has such a growing appeal that numerous tour groups arrive throughout the year to experience one of the world's remotest top courses. They leave with plenty of respect. I've visited four times in the last three years, so know the layout reasonably well by now, yet its challenging holes continue to frustrate me. Those impressive kameeldoring trees that line the fairways and protect several greens are difficult to avoid. The three holes with water hazards fronting the greens seem tame by comparison. Sishen is not just defined by its unique geographical position in the arid Northern Cape, though. It would be a great course wherever it be situated, due to all its memorable holes and uniformly creative greens complexes. The first two holes head west, but a strength of the layout is that thereafter you constantly switch direction on every tee box.
Stuart McLean
20 November 2022
Sishen's course is being prepped for its biggest Sunshine Tour event yet, the Sishen Classic starting on May 26. It will be interesting to see how it plays then. The course held the Northern Cape Amateur Open the first weekend of April. Casey Jarvis won the title by two from Yurav Premlall, but was only level par for 54 holes. He fought back from an 80 in the first round to shoot 70-66. There were only four sub-par rounds, evidence of how demanding a layout this can be from the back tees combined with some tricky pin positions.
Thomas Souness
12 April 2022
Now this is a real hidden gem. I never expected a course in such good condition given where it is. My overall experience of the course was awesome. The kameeldoring trees, some whitewashed by the water from the irrigation sprinklers on the fairways, give the course a very unique character.
Bereng Paul Mokoena
14 January 2022
Played 27 holes here in October when the course was still dry but the playing surface was in good condition. The greens were excellent and there was no need for placing on the fairways. Where it was scary was off the fairway in the sandy soil. However, this is the Kalahari, and Sishen is part of the Kalahari Country Club. The course is beautiful to look at but navigating the fairways was tough. A light breeze also played a significant part for this Gauteng golfer. Playing with members on the second day helped a lot with the lines to take. Too bad that this course finds itself in the middle of nowhere but then again one has to travel to find the best gems. I may have found my favourite route to the Cape and look forward to teeing it up here again.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
02 January 2022
My arrival on a Saturday evening in Kathu coincided with a thunderstorm. The rain pounded down through the night. When I teed up the next morning there was no evidence of the storm on the golf course. No puddles anywhere. The bunkers were perfect. The greens magnificent. The course drains exceptionally well due to its sandy base. It's an arid area, yet Kathu usually receives a surprisingly substantial annual rainfall, perhaps due to the vast kameeldoring forest which is the stunning feature of the Sishen layout. So you have a green course in the summer. The densely strong thorn trees, named after the kameelperd (giraffe), said to be the only animal that can feed on the leaves, are impressive, a nuisance for any golfer who strays off the fairway or takes the wrong line off the tee. The way they block shots is like coming up against the Springbok rugby team's defensive line. Even the dead trees play their part as being a protected species it is illegal to remove them. When Sishen hosted the Sunshine Tour in August 2021 the winning score was only three under for 54 holes. The average score the final round was 75.6. A tough proposition.
Stuart McLean
24 December 2021
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
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
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
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
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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