White 5592 metres, CR 69.8/133
Blue 4989 metres, CR 66.9/121
Women’s blue, CR73.0/127
R320, and R185 on Mondays
Combo special: R580 for two with golf cart on certain days
W H Horne, 1921 (9);
Sid Brews, 1930 (18)
039 975 1320
Umdoni Park celebrates its centenary in 2020, and for much of the last 100 years it has been a largely unknown golf course, hidden away on a private estate an hour’s drive south of Durban.
It’s a fun, shortish layout in a scenic and tranquil location overlooking the Indian Ocean. Arnold Palmer once described Tralee in Ireland as “Created by God, designed by Arnold Palmer,” and the same could be said of Umdoni, where two former SA Open champions, W H Horne and Sid Brews, played a part in laying out the holes.
Modern greens built in the 1990s by former greenkeeper Don Knight transformed it into a Top 100 course, and its reputation as a wonderful getaway destination has grown in the new millennium. The rolling terrain on which it was built makes for a unique and quirky collection of holes.
You reach the clubhouse through the village of Pennington, then take a dirt road past Botha House, the ocean-facing historic guest house named after General Louis Botha, first prime minister of the Union of South Africa.
The course presents golfers with some of the finest outlooks of any coastal venue, as it climbs steeply in places away from the clubhouse. The front nine stays within view of the sea – long hitters will enjoy the prospect of driving short par 4s – while the back nine ventures into dense coastal forest.
The finish is a grand one. The challenging par-4 17th climbs uphill to an elevated green, and a walk from there through the forest takes you to the highest point of the property and the tee of the par-5 18th, a stage presenting the most panoramic of views.
62 by Leorin Pillay, 2015 monthly medal
The back nine is 350 metres longer than the front and has some of the best holes, packed with character. These include the magnificent par-5 13th; the dramatic par-3 16th which plummets steeply downhill; and the 110-metre Majuba (No 12) with the green high in the forest above the tee. There are few flat holes at Umdoni Park. You are either climbing up to greens, or descending to them.
Botha House is a magnificent double-storey historic home, recently refurbished, inside the property and overlooking the ocean. There are nine en-suite rooms and a self-catering 2-bedroom family cottage with elegant finishes. There is also a self-catering cottage and annex in the forest close to the 12th green which can accommodate groups of up to 16 golfers.
Two putting greens. Hitting area for short irons but golfers must use own golf balls.
1/ Umdoni Park has the most old-fashioned clubhouse of any Top 100 course, and the 1920s building retains the beautiful architecture of its period. A peek inside gives a good idea of golf club life in an earlier era. There’s a board where the names of golfers are slotted into the tee times for the day. The club has 465 members.
2/ The clubhouse restaurant is a popular lunch and dinner venue with the public, particularly the outside deck overlooking the ocean. Open daily from 8am to 3.30, and on three evenings. Booking is essential.
3/ Park runs are held in the Umdoni forest at 8am every Saturday & Sunday. There are nature walks for bird lovers. The estate covers 200 hectares.
4/ Being a hilly course, not easy to walk, Umdoni has a big fleet of golf carts.
Luke Cubitt & Sharon Schutte
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