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
Weekend R300, weekday R175
Golf cart R300
Nick Price 2008
083 653 8012
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.”
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.
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.
A big range is conveniently situated between the first and tenth starting tees, with short-game facility.
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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