Umdoni Park

Pennington - KZN South Coast - KwaZulu-Natal

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General manager: Rynardt Crous
Greenkeeper: Jordan Troughton
Club captain: Gordon Ross
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 65.3 out of 100
Conditioning12.8 / 20
Playability12.7 / 20
Aesthetics13.2 / 15
Design Variety10.0 / 15
Shot Values7.6 / 15
Memorability9.0 / 15

Course Summary

Three tees / Par 72

White 5592 metres, CR70.3/133
Blue 4989 metres, CR 66.8/120
Red 3828 metres, CR62.7/95
Women white CR76.9/141
Women’s blue CR73.1/129
Women’s red CR65.7/112

Visitor green fee

R255 Monday & Sunday PM
R390 rest of the week
Combo Special: R700 for two including cart on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays & Sunday PM.
Specials not valid on public holidays and school holidays
Stay & Play at Botha House, call 039 975 1227 for rates
Golf cart R370

Course designer

W H Horne, 1921 (9);
Sid Brews, 1930 (18)


039 975 1320

Previous Ranking

79 (2023), 82 (2022) & 76 (2021)

Umdoni Park celebrated its centenary in 2020 (due to Covid the centenary dinner had to be postponed until May 2022), 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 private road past Botha House, the ocean-facing historic guest house named after General Louis Botha, first prime minister of the Union of South Africa. After his death in 1919 the house was bequeathed to the nation and many of our leaders of the past century have stayed there.

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.

Umdoni Park is one of only four Top 100 courses where the starting hole on each nine, Nos 1 and 10, with tee boxes closest to the clubhouse, is a par 5. It is the only coastal course to have this unusual feature. The other three courses are all in Gauteng – Benoni CC, Modderfontein and Wanderers. However, there are two other courses, Blair Atholl (Gauteng) and Olivewood (Eastern Cape) where Nos 1 and 10 are both par 5s, but the tenth hole is nowhere near the clubhouse and is not used as a starting hole.

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

62 by Leorin Pillay, 2015 monthly medal

Feature Holes

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.

Practice Facility

Two putting greens. Hitting area for short irons but golfers must use own golf balls.

Did You Know

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 500 members.

2/ The clubhouse restaurant is a popular lunch and dinner venue with the public, particularly the outside deck overlooking the ocean. Open seven days a week. Booking is essential.

3/ There are nature walks for bird lovers in the tranquil Umdoni forest, cycling and running trails for the more energetic. The estate covers more than 200 hectares.

4/ Being a hilly course, not easy to walk, Umdoni has a big fleet of golf carts.

Club Champions

2023 Leo Pillay & Bernie de Klerk
2022 Jack Cubitt & Sharon Schutte
2021 Kelvin Donnelly & Sharon Schutte
2020 Leo Pillay
2019 Luke Cubitt & Sharon Schutte

Note: Ron Thompson won 17 men’s titles from 1968 to 1989. Three members of the Pillay family won 25 titles from 1991 to 2023.

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Course Reviews
Played with new young greenkeeper Jordan Troughton who pounds a long ball off the tee. Into a breeze at the 310m sixth his high cut drive landed on the green. Admittedly this is a downhill par 4, but a course this short (5592m) is ripe for long hitters to demolish. However, Umdoni has a few tricks up its sleeve to protect a generous par of 72 (No 1 must be the shortest par 5 in SA at 402m off the back tee), and judging distances for severe uphill and downhill holes, and the unpredictable bounce of the greens, are among them. The four par 5s are fun holes for club golfers because a good drive can set you up to go for the green. The par-5 tenth (439) presents an awkward tee shot into the wind due to the sloping nature of the fairway. If you don't carry your drive over a crest, the ball rolls backwards down a steep slope. Anything left runs towards long grass. Being a sharp dogleg left makes for an interesting long second into the green. The round ends with a 502m par 5, but if the wind's behind, from the high tee this can play shorter than the first.
Stuart McLean
18 May 2024
Umdoni has spectacular views. Found it challenging.
George Molemi
20 January 2024
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Enjoyed a fun open day at Umdoni Park. There is always a friendly atmosphere at this South Coast club. Halfway and 19th hole are highlights.
Gwyn starling
05 December 2023
Undoubtedly one of my favourite courses! Umdoni Park is a classic design with arguably the best views. There are ocean views on 14 holes, which is unrivalled in my books. Although it is a short course and relatively easy in windless conditions, when the wind picks up it is a challenge. Which it was the day I played. Umdoni's clubhouse must have the best views of any in SA. The greens were in a poor state, but still playable. The south coast of KZN is littered with great courses to choose from, at very affordable rates too.
Jean-Luc Regaud
04 August 2023
Umdoni Park's presentation has gone up a sizeable notch in my estimation with new greenkeeper Rudi Mahne's decision to lower the height on his rough cutter and present the rough as a smoother second cut. The perspective from the tees is of wider looking fairways defined by the tree line on either side of them rather than shaggy unkempt rough which can be tough to escape. Neat and tidy works best at a course like Umdoni Park with so much other vegetation outside the playing areas. No longer are there thick clumps of tall grass in front of tees. The fringes of greens have been widened, quite attractively in the case of the slope behind the par-3 third. Makes the course more playable too and speeds up play. The dogleg par-4 eighth has undergone a transformation, with the area left of the fairway opened up by perhaps 20 metres. A big draw off the tee back in the forest opens up an easier angle to the green.
Stuart McLean
20 March 2023
The Umdoni greens were in great condition, running true. The bunkers have been given some attention while the tees are well maintained and level. Umdoni offers fantastic ocean views, and that from the high 18th tee set on the edge of the forest must be the best outlook from any hole in South Africa.
Michael Nourse
09 January 2023
We were fortunate to play Umdoni on a windless day and found the course in superb condition, particularly the greens. A new residential development is taking shape outside the boundary of the course, left of the stunning downhill par-3 16th which, when complete, will detract from the beautiful and natural setting that used to frame this hole.
Trevor King
24 December 2022
The Umdoni Park greens were the best of the KZN South Coast courses I played on a week-long tour. They were quicker and looked healthy. The course has some of the most magnificent ocean views in South Africa.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
14 December 2022

Umdoni Park late last year made a decision to pave the ancient dirt road from the entrance gate to the clubhouse. There is a hilly section and on wet days vehicles often became stuck on the slippery surface and had to be towed to level ground. This paved road proved a blessing when the big rains arrived in KZN in April and again this month. The golf course and clubhouse (which does a roaring trade with golfing and non-golfing visitors) might have been closed for weeks without vehicle access. The course is still wet in places but was undamaged even after more than 600mm of rain. It remains one of the quirkiest layouts I've played due to the hilly terrain, and that's part of Umdoni's immense charm and popularity. A great pity though that almost no one walks the course these days, even such a beautiful nature hike as this through the forest and across the seaside slopes. When did SA golfers become so unenergetic? Bouncing around in a golf cart for 18 holes (cart paths are limited) is not what I'd call fun or healthy for your back.

Stuart McLean
28 May 2022
Umdoni's charm lies in the many interesting holes you find there. Very different from the conventional holes we experience at most courses. The undulating nature of the land is the reason. There's only one hole on the property that could be described as flat, and that's the dogleg par-4 14th, which is well inland furthest from the ocean.
Leon Bevan
13 January 2022
Golfers arriving at Umdoni are currently having to take a circuitous route with their cars across the golf course, as the lengthy dirt road from the entrance to the clubhouse is being paved. This will certainly enhance the Umdoni experience once done. That experience includes staying over at the magnificent Botha House colonial style B&B, enjoying its ocean views, and walking or riding the many kilometres of trails in the vast Umdoni forest. I never tire of that. It's a place where you essentially come to relax, and appreciate an old-fashioned world, in the quirky scenic course, the special look and feel of the 100-year-old clubhouse and the comfortable grandeur of the accommodation.
Stuart McLean
16 November 2021
An absolute gem! Not sure how it is ranked so low, because I'd much rather play Umdoni Park than the majority of courses in the Western Cape. Maybe the conditioning? But it's still in good nick. Greens played firm and fast and true, requiring shots to run up to the green in some cases. The course is short, but accuracy is paramount, especially on the back nine. I played when the wind was mild but can imagine it being a beast in a strong wind! All the elevation changes keep you constantly on your toes. The sight lines off the tee are exceptional. Reminded me of Royal Port Alfred GC and East London GC.
Jean-Luc Regaud
01 October 2021
Easy and friendly booking and check in. Short course but relatively tight fairways. Lots of elevation giving the course great character. Walkable, but be prepared to test your fitness! Amazing views of the ocean from many holes. Greens in good condition. One of the most enjoyable courses in KZN. We played on a relatively still morning. Have heard it can be a massive challenge when the wind picks up.
Avinash Kalkapersad
15 June 2021
Not long ago golfers used to walk a course like Umdoni Park. Golfers were a hardier breed back then. I played on a busy day with a big group (the Troubleshooters from Durban) taking up most of the afternoon tee times, and not one person was walking. Few do these days, and Umdoni's cart fleet grows every year. I can understand why there is no appetite for walking because Umdoni has some severe hills. The course would make a fine mountain bike trail. It's a quirky course, not dissimilar to Royal Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape, and the unique holes and beautiful scenery is the main attraction. It's worth the green fee alone just to tee up on the fabulous 18th, where your drive from the high tee seems to hang in the air forever.
Stuart McLean
08 May 2021
Played in the Saturday afternoon field and enjoyed the good vibe at this popular members club both before and after the round. It's an old fashioned course, and the only other vaguely similar in South Africa is Royal Port Alfred. Umdoni Park has more scenic views over the coastline. It also has some of the steepest uphill holes in the country, notably the par-4 ninth, where the short-iron approach is equivalent to trying to land the ball on the top-storey of a block of flats! On several greens you cannot see the bottom of the flag. But there are fabulous holes too that enrapture those who play here and keep bringing them back. The clubhouse restaurant provides superb fare at a good price, perfect for after the round.
Stuart McLean
20 November 2020
Umdoni is a pleasure to play! Several unforgettable holes, are the course tests your game! The greens are in a good condition. On the back nine in the forest it feels as if you are the only fourball on the course. I recommend the clubhouse catering as a great way to finish your round.
Philip Malan
28 September 2020
Elevation changes throughout the course make for spectacular and challenging holes with breathtaking scenery and sea views.
Trevor King
08 March 2020
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