Published by : Stuart McLean - 26 June 2020


During the height of the lockdown, St Francis Links received one of South African golf’s top environmental awards. The John Collier Award is presented each year to the best club showing good governance and environmental compliance.

St Francis Links, with an overall compliance rating of 80%, is the first Eastern Cape club to be honoured, and was praised for being committed to “good land stewardship principles and taking positive steps towards addressing biodiversity loss. The audit includes key areas such as nature conservation, landscape and culture heritage, turf-grass management, energy efficiency, waste management, education and training.

Previous John Collier Award winners over the past decade have included Umhlali CC (2016 and 2019), Kingswood (2018), Bryanston (2017), Paarl (2015), Pretoria CC (2014), Metropolitan (2013), Leopard Creek (2012) and Kyalami (2011).

St Francis Links staff with the John Collier Award. From left, Charl Blaauw (estate superintendent), Jeff Clause (CEO), Divan Emkhe (PGA), Thinus Keller (head PGA pro), Walt Oosthuizen (assistant superintendent) and Danisile Mhlabeni (first assistant superintendent).


Pinnacle Point in Mossel Bay welcomed a new head greenkeeper on June 1 and have also announced attractive winter green fee specials which will last until the end of October. Sun City course superintendent Konrad Suhr has moved to the Garden Route golf estate. The maintenance contract for the course was previously held by Turfworx, a local company which still operates at Pezula and Oubaai. Pinnacle director of golf Quintin Beyleveldt was previously the golf operations manager at Sun City.

Among the special offers at Pinnacle Point is a package of 12 rounds for R3 999 which includes a golf cart. The Louis Oosthuizen Golf Experience is R799 per player which includes a bottle of Louis57 wine and halfway house. Phone 044 606 5322 or email:


Two major festival weeks were affected by the lockdown and postponed rather than cancelled. Mbombela GC in Mpumalanga is hoping to re-schedule the famous Jock of the Bushveld (53rd tournament) for the end of September, if restrictions allow, while Royal Port Alfred’s 25th Mad Hatter has been set for September 21 to 26. St Francis Bay is going ahead with the Calamari Classic on September 24-26.


Ebotse Links have had to close their par-5 12th hole following a slope failure on May 3 underneath the houses which stand atop the ridge overlooking the course. No houses on the golf estate were damaged. The 12th is one of Ebotse’s signature holes on the Peter Matkovich design, with a dramatic tee shot over water, and then water guarding the right edge of the fairway to the green. Engineers say the full hole is unlikely to open until October or November, and the hole is being played as a Par 3. This is also now Ebotse’s opening hole. Golfers play 12 to 18, grab a halfway meal, and then play 1 to 11. The par-4 17th is now back in play, having been shortened to a par 3 due to pipeline construction work.


Top 20 Jack Nicklaus course Simola in the Garden Route is only opening 3 days a week (Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays) following the lockdown. It is a temporary measure during what is a quiet time of year in Knysna. Champagne Sports Resort (ranked 31) in the Drakensberg, another resort course, is only open on Wednesdays and weekends.


Sun City might remain closed to golfers, but the Wild Coast Sun has opened, although only from Thursday to Sunday. The Wild Coast casino and hotel remain closed. Wild Coast Sun is in the Eastern Cape, on the border with KwaZulu-Natal, and KZN golfers currently require a permit to play there under lockdown level 3. There are police roadblocks on either side of the bridge crossing the Mtamvuna River. Permits can be obtained by contacting the Wild Coast pro shop.


Bryanston Country Club has broken with a long tradition due to lockdown. Club captains only serve one year, but with three months of golf lost to Covid-19 disruptions the club committee, after consulting with past captains, has agreed that the terms of their current captains, Kevin Palmer and Bronwen Lambert, plus junior captain Enzo Barbaglia, will be extended for a second year. Bryanston falls in line with the Royal & Ancient in St Andrews, which also announced that their captain, for only the second time in 266 years, will serve a two-year term.

Bryanston club captains Kevin Palmer and Bronwen Lambert.


The Eagle Canyon golf estate in Gauteng took back ownership of their range on March 1 and have signed up more than 100 members who pay R150 a month for unlimited golf balls. Golf director Dave Christie said the revenue is being used to add irrigation to the range, a mashie course and floodlights so that it can stay open in the evenings. Eagle Canyon is one of several clubs which have installed screen dividers on their fleet of 70 carts so that two golfers can share a cart.


Several million rand was raised by GolfRSA and individual golf clubs during the lockdown to support caddies and casual staff. The true figure will probably never be known. GolfRSA contributed R1.5 million to its relief fund, raised from savings on operational expenses from its 2020 budgets, voluntary staff salary cuts and an online auction.

Bryanston Country Club, through GM Paul Leishman, helped raise R750 000 for caddies, coaches and staff through donations, online raffles and virtual club draws. Hermanus started a caddie and staff fund and raised R192 300. Knysna received R172 500 from donors, including R30 000 from the Branden Grace Trust. The King David Trust donated over R100 000 to support the caddies at King David Mowbray. Royal Port Alfred raised R96 000.


Golf courses were allowed to reopen in Mauritius at the beginning of June. However, with only some 1500 local golfers on the island, and no tourists, they are not open seven days a week. Heritage GC opens from Thursday to Sunday. In order to attract local golfers, green fees are cheaper than usual, as much as 70% at some courses. The golf courses have been assisted by a wage assistance scheme from the government that covers the salaries of lower income earners. Tourists will only be allowed to return to Mauritius in August when the borders re-open.

Heritage Golf Club General Manager Jonathan Menteath, formerly at Arabella, took a personal initiative during the lockdown by starting a Safe Golf label. It works through golf clubs and golf businesses going to and taking a pledge to follow their country’s Covid-19 golfing regulations. Once they take the pledge they will receive 10 different Safe Golf logos. Menteath has had sign-ups from six countries so far.
“This is for goodwill and networking with fellow managers around the world,” he said.

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