Zimbali Lakes has been an anticipated golf course development for several years. The project is now progressing rapidly on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, and a spectacular 18-hole layout is due to open early in 2023, the first high-profile new course in South Africa since The Club at Steyn City in 2014.
I was taken on a tour of the site by General Manager Wayne Krambeck, formerly GM at Cotswold Downs, who is overseeing the R10-billion development by the Zimbali Resorts Development Joint Venture. The holes are already being cut and filled, and the golf course, designed by Golf Data, promises to be something unique and special to play. Golf Data were also involved at Steyn City, a Nicklaus Design project.
Zimbali Lakes is situated on a former sugar cane farm, with a dramatic and undulating landscape, making it a stimulating challenge for the golf course designer. There will be dramatic carries over ravines, and carts will be essential to traverse the layout. Because of the nature of the terrain it will be an out-and-back layout, rather than having two nines each returning to a central clubhouse.
The Lakes is adjacent to the hugely successful Zimbali Coastal Resort, which has a Tom Weiskopf course opened in 1998, and separated from it by the M4 coastal highway. The initial Lakes project was first given the go-ahead as long ago as 2005, when Gary Player was named as the designer.
There are 20 hectares of lakes on the lowest part of the property, adjoining the Tongati River near where it enters the Indian Ocean. Golfers and property owners will enjoy spectacular views of the lakes and ocean.
A unique aspect of the pet friendly development is the diversity it offers. That includes the lakes, ocean views, golf course, commercial and retail opportunities, holiday/business accommodation, an Evergreen Retirement Village, sporting amenities, only 15 minutes from King Shaka International Airport.
While Zimbali Lakes goes ahead, news from Zimbali Coastal Resort is that their course, ranked No 18 in the country and No 3 in KZN, has been closed to day visitors since December 1. The course is only available to estate home owners and their guests, plus residents at the Zimbali Lodge. Currently the 154-room Fairmont hotel on the estate remains closed.
New GM Sheldon Stroebel, 27, said that Zimbali would not be a “closed shop” to visitors as the golf club will still host 12 corporate days a year, six charity days, and some KZN events. The golf clubhouse is due for a major refurbishment.
Fancourt in George is another resort where golf on their two courses, the Montagu and Outeniqua, is reserved for members, home owners and hotel residents.