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 Virtually all have gone and been replaced by indigenous trees.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.