Vaal de Grace

Parys, Free State - ​Northern Cape & Free State

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Greenkeeper: Maurice Meintjes
Club captain: Marius du Plessis
Chairman: Etienne Hoeksma
General manager: Jacques Coetzee
Pro shop manager: Rudi Snyder
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 61.6 out of 100
Conditioning12.2 / 20
Playability12.6 / 20
Aesthetics9.8 / 15
Design Variety9.3 / 15
Shot Values9.2 / 15
Memorability8.5 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

Yellow 6621 metres, CR73.8/136
White 6157 metres, CR72.0/133
Blue 5617 metres, CR68.9/120
Red 4990 metres, CR65.4/113
Women’s blue, CR74.9/139
Women’s red, CR70.5/129

Visitor green fee

Weekend R300, weekday R175
Golf cart R300

Course designer

Nick Price 2008


083 653 8012

Previous national ranking

63 (2020)

Vaal de Grace, closed for most of 2020, is open for visitor play and has been busy with social and tournament rounds. A new double-storey clubhouse has been built overlooking the first tee and practice range. There is a well-stocked pro shop. The course conditioning is much improved as Vaal de Grace now have a permanent greenkeeper.

Nick Price’s first African design is a unique island course on the Vaal River five kilometres outside Parys. The island is broad enough to accommodate a residential estate (currently 72 homes) and 14 of the golf holes. Uniquely, Vaal de Grace straddles two provinces, with the island holes being in North West Province, the other four in the Free State. With a reasonably priced green fee, it’s good value for money among Top 100 courses. New owners who took over the course in 2017 have made steady improvements.

Golf carts are almost essential, because of the long route across the road bridge off the island to play Nos 5 to 8. There’s also a long walk from the clubhouse to the first tee, and returning from the 18th green.

Price designed a player-friendly layout with wide fairways, and his bunkering is not intrusive. He said the challenge for him “was to build the holes along the river with variety, so they don’t favour or penalise a golfer who plays with a particular ball shape. Each hole engages with the river in a different way.”


Additional Course Facts

Course Record

63 by Jacques Kruyswijk, Stuart Smith, M J Viljoen, Michael Hollick in 2015 Vodacom Origins.

Amateur Samantha Whately (CCJ) had an 8-birdie 64 in the 2022 Free State Women’s Open.

Feature Holes

The last five holes on the back nine play alongside the Vaal River. The 14th is a strong par 5 with the river on the right, possibly the best hole on the course, which plays to a well-bunkered green in the far corner of the island. Four holes then return back home on another bank of the river; 15 and 18 are strong par 4s, 16 a par 3, and 17 another par 5.

Practice Facility

A big range is conveniently situated between the first and tenth starting tees, with short-game facility.

Did You Know

1/ The men’s SA Amateur Championship was played here in 2011, and Michael Stewart became the first Scot to win the trophy, beating compatriot Paul Shields in the final. Brandon Stone won the Proudfoot Trophy as leading qualifier with 64-68.

2/ The Sunshine Tour visited in 2015 with the Vodacom Origins. Jean Hugo won with 21-under total of 195.

3/ Parys has long been a popular weekend getaway for Gauteng residents, 100 kilometres south of Johannesburg. More than a century ago it was known as the Pride of the Vaal to city folk who flocked there by train. Visitors are attracted by restaurants, pubs, microbreweries, cafes, curio and antique shops.

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Course Reviews
Vaal de Grace is making a strong comeback under the management of the estate's home owners association. The course has had three previous owners, and it now looks to be in safer hands. The general conditioning is much improved, the greens are healthy and slick, and there's a steady flow of visitor rounds as a result. The club is hosting the Free State women's championships this weekend. The project this year is new sand for all the greenside bunkers, and the first hole done is the eighth. The first thing that strikes you at Vaal de Grace is the vast size of everything. Large greens and bunker complexes. And wide fairways is a reason why it's popular. You're more likely to complete 18 with the same ball you began the round. The pro shop in the new clubhouse is well stocked, and there's a good value green fee from Tuesday to Thursday. The course is closed on Mondays.
Stuart McLean
08 April 2022
Good to see Vaal de Grace coming back to life again after being closed for most of 2020, during which time only the most basic maintenance was done. As a result the course fell out of the Top 100 from its previous position of No 63. On my visit in early April a new clubhouse was almost complete -- a simple structure, nothing fancy, right behind the first tee -- and the course was relatively busy. The practice putting green was in poor shape due to all the rain in the area this year, but those on the course were much better although soft to walk on.
Stuart McLean
16 April 2021
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Nick Price's creative bunker design is a big part of Vaal de Grace's appearance and character. They are numerous and vast, and some look unnecessary. Having generously wide fairways, though, the bunkers are more cosmetic than anything else. The par-3 sixth has possibly the biggest green in Africa! It resembles one of those double greens on the Old Course at St Andrews, wide and long.
Stuart McLean
11 March 2020
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