Gold 6524 metres, CR75.0/145
White 6052 metres, CR72.5/142
Blue 5568 metres, CR69.9/135
Red 5018 metres, CR66.6/128
Women’s blue, CR76.2/144
Women’s red, CR72.2/136
Zimbali is an exclusive members facility.
Visitors can only play if invited by a member or are residing on the estate.
Hotel guest R715 off-peak; R820 peak.
Includes golf cart
Tom Weiskopf 1998
032 538 1041
The KZN North Coast, or Dolphin Coast, has seen incredible growth over the last 20 years, and the Zimbali Coastal Resort development in Ballito anticipated that population boom. The resort has a large residential component, two hotels, and a world-class golf course.
Zimbali moved to being an exclusive members facility in December 2020. Visitors can only play the course if invited and together with a member, or staying on the estate in one of the short-term rental properties or the Zimbali Lodge or Fairmont Hotel, which is due to re-open in November 2021.
American course designer Tom Weiskopf was presented with a considerable challenge when he first saw the terrain on which he was asked to build Zimbali in the mid-1990s. “I had never before worked with land where so much elevation had to be taken into account,” he said. Fortunately his brief was to integrate a cart-only layout, which at the time was a first in South Africa, into the property.
Zimbali rolls and tumbles among hills on the Indian Ocean shoreline. There are only two flat holes on the entire layout, the fourth and sixth which adjoin each other at the lower end of the course. Three of the par-3s are played from elevated tees, which makes for tricky club selection. Weiskopf used a clever and unusual design ploy to build the par-3 14th. Being a cart course, he was able to take golfers up a steep path into a gap in the forest, and then have them play back to the green.
Zimbali has two distinctively different nines, the first on open land with ocean views and wide fairways, while the back nine ventures into the beautiful indigenous coastal forest from the 13th to 18th, with a highly attractive series of holes to finish.
The course has had significant upgrades in recent years which have made it more playable, notably at the stroke one, par-4 15th where a severely sloping hidden green has been levelled and opened up to be seen from each side of the fairway.
64 by Jared Harvey in 2017 Vodacom Origins.
The second is a glorious short par 4 from a high set of tees with a large dam guarding the left side of the hole; No 13 is a tight downhill par 4 with forest on both sides of the fairway; while the 442-metre 18th is one of South Africa’s great finishing holes, and a favourite of Weiskopf’s. A dogleg left from an elevated tee with cross bunkers guarding the left side off the tee, with the approach to a raised green.
There are two luxury hotels within the Zimbali resort, the Fairmont Zimbali Lodge next to the golf clubhouse and overlooking the course, and the larger 154-room Fairmont Resort Hotel on the Indian Ocean shoreline.
Members-only range is a fair distance from clubhouse in the residential estate. The resident teaching pro is veteran George Harvey, a former PGA Teacher of the Year (2009), who was the coach for the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation.
2021 Steve Phytides & Jemima Ullyett
2020 Kevin Ullyett & Jemima Ullyett*
2019 Shane Douglas & Thea Sadler
*Father and daughter champions
1/ The African-themed clubhouse occupies a unique forest setting away from the golf course. The indigenous forest was left undisturbed and trees grow through the raised decks which provide sea views. The entrance features the remains of a ruined farmhouse framed around a wild fig tree. The 18th green sits below the shady clubhouse, but is hidden from view by the forest, while the first tee is a fair distance away. The par-3 ninth green returns to the vicinity of the clubhouse, and there is a separate halfway house for golfers.
2/ American course designer Tom Weiskopf, the 1973 Open champion, continues to design superb courses today. His work includes the highly-rated Loch Lomond in Scotland, and Double Eagle Club in Ohio which is in the USA Top 100.
3/ On the par-5 17th Weiskopf hid a bunker over a slope in the fairway. “I call that the What Bunker,” he said. “When I first played the Old Course at St Andrews I would hit a shot into what looked a safe part of the fairway, and the caddie would tell me I was in a bunker. My reaction was always ‘What Bunker?’”
4/ When Zimbali first opened for play the main coastal road between Ballito and Umhlanga ran through the middle of the course. That is now a quiet residential road, and a new section of the M4 bypasses Zimbali.
5/ Zimbali has Royal Blue cynodon grass tees and fairways, with paspalum greens.
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