White 5719 metres, CR71.0/138
Blue 5301 metres, CR68.2/130
Red 4771 metres, CR66.4/127
Women’s blue, CR73.8/140
Women’s red, CR71.5/135
R295 affiliated, golf cart R300
Tyrone Yates, 2015
The Belmont GC is the newest Eastern Cape golf course, a scenic rural 18 holes built in the fertile Belmont Valley about 10 kilometres south of Makhanda (Grahamstown), close to the Port Alfred road, from which the course can be viewed from a great height. It was opened in October 2015.
The Belmont replaces the original Grahamstown Golf Club, one of the oldest in South Africa, founded in 1891. The new course is the fifth to have been used in the city. The longest serving was the one opened in 1932 and closed in 2015. In 2007 negotiations began between the GGC and developers to do a land swap and turn the golf course into a commercial site. That deal was signed in 2014.
Tyrone Yates, son of long-serving PGA of SA member Roy Yates, designed both an interesting and practical bushveld type course. It’s a full 18, yet it could be condensed into a 12-holer if the need ever arose. The Belmont is located in a narrow agricultural valley and the terrain is undulating as can be expected with numerous elevation changes. Yates’ routing includes five par 5s, five par 3s and eight par 4s, six of them shorter than 350 metres.
The opening hole, an adventurous 438-metre par 5, swoops steeply downhill to a green at the lowest point of the property. You then cross over the dirt road which runs through the valley to six holes on a separate hillside to the clubhouse. These are the holes that could be sidelined if there were just 12 holes. However, these six holes do constitute some of the more challenging and longest on the layout, particularly the uphill par-3 fifth (217m), the long par-4 sixth (427m), and the unusual par-5 seventh (484m). The first nine has a par of 37 and is 365 metres longer than the back nine.
The Belmont’s par 3s are an interesting mix, and holes-in-one have been common, already 57 of them in the past six years. They include a quirky downhill par 3 of 111 metres at the 11th, almost a vertical drop to a severely undulating green wedged between a hillside and a stream. The eighth with its water hazard is one of the Eastern Cape’s most beautiful par 3s, while No 16 is another played from a high tee to a green in the lower valley.
Yates was creative with his greens complexes, and the sloping surfaces present a strong defence, as does the indigenous bush bordering many holes (the men’s Slope is 138 off the back), on what is a short course of 5 719 metres. The 14th (335m) is a proper risk-reward short par 4 with a stream crossing the fairway about 120 metres short of an astounding green with a precipitous slope in the middle. The par-5 18th green is another with undulations that can see a golf ball fall off the front and back down a slope.
The two-storey clubhouse has beautiful vistas over the course, and overlooks three greens, Nos 9, 15 and 18. Behind the clubhouse there’s a short climb up the hillside to an elevated tee for the daunting par-5 tenth where the tee shot has to carry a bushy ravine. The par 5s are short enough to present birdie opportunities for long drives that can find the fairways.
Limited range below clubhouse. Balls are hit down and across the ninth fairway.
St Aidan’s Guest Cottage for large group bookings. The Cockhouse is the closest to the course.
2021 Steven Gornall & Daphne Bowker
2020 Scott Jackson & Jess Gornall
2019 Steven Gornall & Jess Gornall*
*Husband and wife
62 by Daniel Gouws & Luke Jerling in 2016
1/ Makhanda (Grahamstown) was founded in 1812 as a military outpost after the Fourth Xhosa War to secure the eastern frontier of the Cape Colony. The area is still known as Frontier Country in tourist brochures. The arrival of the 1820 Settlers saw it grow into the second-largest city in the Cape Province up until 1930, with a cathedral, high court and university. The city is home to several long established educational institutions, including Rhodes University and private schools, the oldest of which is St Andrew’s College (1855).
2/ The city is home to the National Arts Festival held in the last week of June and first week of July each year. It is the largest arts festival in Africa and one of the largest performing arts festivals in the world by visitor numbers.
3/ A railway line used to run through the Belmont Valley, and the tracks are visible alongside the 14th tee. This short par 4 has had a hole-in-one by club member Gary Botha.
4/ There are a number of game reserves in the surrounding area.
5/ Royal Port Alfred is the nearest Top 100 course, 52 kilometres away via the R67.
After many years I returned to try my hand at golf at the Belmont. It has been a difficult but rewarding exercise. The course is beautiful yet challenging.
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