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Umhlali

Ballito, KZN North Coast - KwaZulu-Natal

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General manager: Derick Reinke
Sports manager : Jason Herbst
Greenkeeper: Robin Naicker
Club captains: Keith Ferreira & Sue Ellis
Chairman: Andre Boje
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 68.3 out of 100
Conditioning13.5 / 20
Playability13.7 / 20
Aesthetics11.0 / 15
Design Variety10.8 / 15
Shot Values9.5 / 15
Memorability9.8 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 71

Yellow 5943 metres, CR72.5/129
White 5640 metres, CR71.0/126
Blue 5313 metres, CR69.1/125
Red 4862 metres, CR66.4/125
Women’s blue, CR75.2/132
Women’s red, CR71.8/125

Visitor green fee

R595 weekday
R495 weekend

Course designer

Peter Matkovich 1980

Contact

032 947 1181
www.umhlaliclub.co.za

Previous ranking

67 (2023),  70 (2022) & 65 (2021)

Umhlali CC & Golf Estate is the most popular golf course in KwaZulu-Natal in terms of rounds played every year. This busy and enterprising North Coast sports club caters for 1500 members in a variety of leisure pursuits.

Umhlali again won the 2023 CMASA Club of the Year award, and the Best of Ballito Awards named it the best golf course, best sports and coaching club in the North Coast area.

The club has humble origins, having started life in 1961 with a rural 9-holer serving local farmers. Today it sits on the quiet inland side of the N2 highway adjoining the booming coastal town of Ballito, which boasts three residential golf estates.

Course designer Peter Matkovich was the greenkeeper at Umhlali in the early 1980s and rebuilt the 9-holer into an attractive modern layout during that decade. He has always lived in the Ballito area, and over the years has made numerous improvements to the course which has seen it grow in stature and popularity. It’s jam-packed in the December/January holidays.

The beauty of Umhlali lies in its magnificent trees framing the fairways, and rolling terrain which has helped create some outstanding golf holes. The back nine flows through a beautiful indigenous forest. It’s under 6 000 metres from the back tees, an easy walk, yet the sloping ground, smallish greens, and occasional water hazards make it both a fun and challenging test. It has a high Slope rating. The paspalum greens have an excellent reputation.

A major transformation of the club came in 2015 when the clubhouse was revamped and modernised, enhancing the entrance, reception area and pro shop. MammaG’s handle food and beverage.

The Club Management Association of SA (CMASA) chose Umhlali as the 2019 Club of the Year. It achieved a remarkable score of 96.5% in seven different pillars.

Read more: UMHLALI IS 2019 CLUB OF THE YEAR

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

64 by Wesley Worster in 2007 medal
63 by Jonathan Broomhead, first round of 2023 SunBet Challenge, but no course record due to preferred lies

Feature Holes

The par-3 fourth is one of the most exciting and challenging short holes in KZN, played from an elevated hillside tee to a green fronted by a large water hazard. It’s 181 metres from the back tee. The par 3s are all memorable, and the round ends with the 182m 18th, again from a high tee to a green in front of the clubhouse. Matkovich created a superb risk-and-reward 280m par 4 at 14 which brings water, trees and sand into play from the tee. The 489m tenth is a terrific par 5, from a high tee into a curving fairway, with water on the right.

SUNSHINE TOUR

Umhlali hosted its first Sunshine Tour event in October 2022, won by Dylan Naidoo on six-under 207. Martin Rohwer won the 2023 title on 208.

Practice Facility

Excellent wide and spacious range next to the tenth tee, playing downhill, with a short-game area. Open to visitors. Putting greens at clubhouse.

Did You Know

1/ Umhlali is a busy country club, with 1500 members, also home to bowls (two greens), tennis (five courts) and squash (two).

2/ Caring for the environment is important at Umhlali. The club received the John Collier Award for good governance and environmental compliance in both 2016 and 2019, plus a special mention in 2017. It’s the only KZN club to have been honoured.

3/ Part of the course, mostly on the front nine, is devoted to estate living, with 302 homes.

4/ Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini won the SA Women’s Strokeplay title at Umhlali in 2012, and the club hosted the 2014 SA Boys Championship, with Tristen Strydom (strokeplay) and Paul Boshoff (matchplay) the champions.

5/ General manager Derick Reinke, a Fellow PGA pro, was KZN PGA Pro of the Year in 2016 and 2018, plus KZN PGA Manager of the Year in 2017 and 2021.

Club Champions

2024 Bryce Myburgh & Olivia Wood
2023 Desmond Sutherland & Olivia Wood
2022 Matt Walters & Kamaya Moodliar
2021 Thabiso Magwaza & Jemima Ullyett
2020 Thabiso Magwaza & Jemima Ullyett
2019 Kyle Kistensamy & Jemima Ullyett

Course and Facilities Rating
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Course Reviews
I played soon after Christmas following heavy rain. Many fairways were soaked, with some resembling muddy marshes in places. The conditions made the course play much longer than usual. It would be wise for Umhlali to try and rectify their drainage issues as this is a persistent problem during wet summers. In terms of design, this is a course I appreciate more every time I play it. There are some beautifully shaped greens and greens complexes.
Jean-Luc Regaud
05 January 2024
Greens are fast which is good, but at the same time they are firm. They don’t bite. The general appearance of the clubhouse and course is excellent. Love playing there. Fairways rate 3/5 only due to the prevailing dry conditions. Once the rains arrive they will be 5/5.
Clive van der Spuy
12 September 2023
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Friendly club with a welcoming atmosphere. Enjoyable course with several interesting holes. Some are narrow and tight, especially as you approach the green. Many holes are flanked by colourful trees and shrubs which add to the attractive aesthetics. In fairly good condition given the heavy traffic at Umhlali.
Amy Laird
20 August 2023
Umhlali is a delight to play with many interesting holes, flanked by spectacular flowering trees. The club has a welcoming atmosphere.
Tara Swart
14 August 2023
Umhlali need to redo the bunkers. With bunkers protecting many of the greens the condition of these bunkers should allow the average player an opportunity to get out first time. This is not the case.
Zack
25 June 2023
Umhlali is busy being the only one of the three courses in Ballito open to the public. As a result several tees are under stress, especially those where irons are used. Greens and fairways in great condition considering the traffic.
Eben-Paul Zietsman
23 June 2023
The course for mid-winter is in acceptable condition. Greens quick and firm. The halfway house grab & go doesn't work. Taking food on the course leads to monkeys grabbing it from your cart. The locker room air-conditioning is cold. Pace of play during club champs was unacceptable. We waited an hour to tee off on the par-3 fourth over the dam.
Craig Dennis
22 June 2023
I first played Umhlali in 2018 and instantly fell in love with the course. Something about it talked to me. Every time I return to the KZN North Coast I'm keen on a round here.
Herman Groenewald
22 June 2023
Greens good all year round. A course that will test any golfer. Some beautiful holes. Warm and friendly club.
Robert Dempsey
21 June 2023
Umhlali greenkeeper Robin Naicker will have served Umhlali for 40 years in April, and he has taken this North Coast course to a high level of conditioning. I haven't seen pure paspalum greens as good as these in terms of texture and consistent pace. Many clubs are interseeding bent or poa with paspalum, yet the super dwarf paspalum at Umhlali does fine on its own. Robin sticks to what he's learnt over the years. "Not too much fertiliser and one hollow-tining treatment a year." The greens don't have to be quick because Peter Matkovich designed enough subtle slopes to make putting tricky. Robin remembers the front nine at Umhlali being full of pines and bluegums when he started. Virtually all have gone and been replaced by indigenous trees. If you like your trees, the back nine is crammed with the most beautiful mature species common to the east coast; Flat-crowns, Umdonis, Natal Mahogany and more. Cool and shady in the heat of summer.
Stuart McLean
20 March 2023
Alway a warm welcome on so many levels. I’ve been a member for 11 years. Good course but an even better atmosphere. Relaxed, yet a proper country club.
Graham Dempsey
16 March 2023
An ever-improving course (fairways need some work) with great facilities.
Bernard Dalton
05 March 2023
Course is much improved, although bunkers are inconsistent and need attention. A great club to relax and enjoy a meal and drinks after a round.
Keith Hales
26 February 2023
Recently joined Umhlali CC. It's a fair and challenging course in immaculate condition.
Janeen Ferguson
26 February 2023
Umhlali need extensive input from members to find out where the course can be improved.
Steve Stoop
24 February 2023
Umhlali is a great social club, however management should interact more with members. I believe the course has the potential to be in the Top 50 in rankings. The revenue the club receives should enable Umhlali to make further improvements.
David Glazebrook
24 February 2023
Course in generally good condition, fairways could do with more water, greens slow. Bunkers not maintained by players. Facilities good, staff welcoming and helpful.
David Smith
24 February 2023
Overall condition very good, but bunkers inconsistent.
Brian McKerchar
24 February 2023
Challenging course due to the many trees lining the fairways. I particularly love the long downhill par-3 fourth over the water hazard. There's a great mix of people from all over the country playing the course regularly. After the April floods Umhlali was the only immediately playable course on the KZN coastline.
Mark Brierley
01 July 2022
The course has taken strain after the rainfall deluge of April and May. Fairways are currently cut too short given the poor soil. Ditto the tee boxes. Bunkers are not being raked correctly.
Rob Scott
24 June 2022
Excellent and attractive course. Beautiful in the early morning when the rising sun filters through the trees. The layout is forgiving with adjacent fairways allowing wayward balls to be found. But a challenge to shoot low if you are off line.
Haroun Mahomed
13 June 2022
Umhlali in the last decade has transformed itself from a smallish club to one of the biggest in the country in terms of membership and stature. It reminds me more than ever of George GC in the Garden Route, and there's much in common too between Ballito and George, two of the fastest-growing towns in the country. Umhlali, like George, is popular with golfers and a highly efficient and enjoyable experience on a scenically attractive, flowing and challenging course of about 6000 metres that's all about shot-making rather than big drives. Tree-lined holes put an emphasis on finding the fairway. Both are also superbly conditioned. Umhlali consistently offers some of the best greens of the KZN coastal courses in terms of pace and texture. George would love to have Umhlali's impressive practice facilities. An excellent touch I noticed on my visit were the practice putting greens at both the first and tenth starting holes. Another observation: the tee box on the par-3 sixth is surely among the biggest in the country, 25 metres wide and as long again.
Stuart McLean
01 June 2022
Best course on the KZN North Coast and that includes Durban Country Club before it was sadly flooded. Great selection of holes at Umhlali. No two are the same. Excellent risk and reward opportunities and greens fast and true.
Peter Bendall
26 May 2022
A peaceful, challenging, well-maintained course out of the hustle and bustle of city traffic. It’s more difficult than one thinks, with four challenging par 3s. The rough is forgiving and you will usually find your ball, but it will likely cost you a dropped shot. The atmosphere in the clubhouse is friendly and festive.
Keith Hales
24 May 2022
After the severe rains that devastated KZN and damaged many courses, Umhlali drained very well and was playable again within two days. It is improving weekly, ever green, very challenging, well run and manicured. The newly renovated change rooms are superb.
Dean Hammerich
23 May 2022
Course generally in good condition, although bunkers are poor and inconsistent. Greens between good and excellent. Fairways between tolerable and good.
Gary Birnie
07 May 2022
I enjoyed the brilliant variety of golf holes at Umhlali, and also the beauty of the back nine built among groves of attractive trees that closely frame each of the holes and punish wayward drives. The course is unusual in having a steep slope right in the middle where the land falls away down a hill. This provides a terrific downhill long par 3 (the fourth) to a shallow green fronted by a water hazard. Each of the short holes presented quite small targets. Another downhiller is the par-5 tenth, one of my favourite holes in terms of the way it has been shaped. On the back nine the closing holes 16 and 17 play across the slope, so keeping your tee shot on the fairway requires both skill and luck of the bounce. Two superb short par 4s on this nine are Nos 14 and 16, where Peter Matkovich has been creative in his green design.
Dieter ten Haag
04 January 2022
An aesthetically pleasing layout on which the average golfer has a good chance to play to his handicap. That said, the course must not be underestimated as off-line tee shots can lead to trouble, the fairways not being as wide as most modern layouts. The only negative is the housing development between the 17th green and 18th tee that spoils the natural flow of play.
Jaco Ackermann
21 December 2020
This is an interesting, fun and quirky course, with a strange hole to start, a sharp dogleg left par 4 requiring a lay-up with an iron off the tee. There are a few other unusual risk-reward holes. Umhlali, a friendly club, has beautiful tropical vegetation, decent greens and some challenging shots.
Ivan Palframan
20 February 2020
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