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A TRIUMPH FOR SOUTH AFRICAN GOLF

Gary Player Design continues to make progress in updating Soweto Country Club. The course has many new key additions such as a short, drivable par-4 along with brand new, exciting par-3s, and revamped par-5s.

The new redesigned course has a wide variety of holes that will not only be challenging but also extremely entertaining and visually stunning as well. “The golf course was originally designed on land that has a pleasing slope from one side, providing good drainage and interesting holes,” said Phil Jacobs, who is leader of the golf course construction team of Southern Turf Management (STM) on behalf of the original designer Gary Player.Gary Player at Soweto CC

Along with the Black Knight, Jeff Lawrence from Gary Player Design is leading Player’s team working on the new layout. It features a wide variety of holes with some very long par four holes, a drive able par four, some demanding par threes and a very short but exciting par three.

“The golf course is a par 72 at around 6,700 meters from the back tees. The original routing of holes has been retained in order to have the lowest impact on the trees and natural topography. The trees are matured and make up one of the main features of the golf course. Gary Player Design has also designed the green and bunker complexes to best blend into the existing terrain.

According to Jacobs, work on the golf course is progressing at a tremendously promising rate.

“We have installed the greens growing medium (sand) on greens 10-18, some grass sodding has been completed around greens 10-16, the detail green and fairway bunker shaping has been completed on holes 10-18 and on holes 1-8, the irrigation installation has been completed on holes 10-18, and the tees on holes 10-15 have been completed. Grassing will commence in the first week of August.”

ThruVu has provided state-of-the-art fencing around a large portion of the golf course, while a wall has been built around the remaining areas. The collaborative aspect of this project has been a great change-up for Jacobs and his team.

“It’s been a great project to work on and to get to know more about the local community and meet so many fantastic people. I’m very confident that the end product will turn out great and that Soweto Country Club will become a favorite golf course for local and regional golfers.”

Soweto Country Club has a long history going back to the 1970s. Its members have been through some very challenging times and have had to make do with so little. This upgrade means a great deal to the members of the club and they are so excited about the project and what it will mean to the community.

The resurgence of Soweto Country Club is not just a major breakthrough for Soweto, but for all of South African golfers and the pioneers who have shaped the game in this beautiful country, many of them against incredible social challenges. At the 1959 Open Championship, which was won by Gary Player, the great golf writer Henry Longhurst also noted the presence of two other South African golfers who happened to make the qualifying rounds. They were Sewsunker “Papwa” Sewgolum and Edward Johnson-Sedibe. Which didn’t come as a surprise at all, the highly talented Sewgolum caught Longhurst’s eye, who wrote of the great Indian golfer, “He holds the club with his left hand below his right and in the first qualifying round went in 71 in a downpour.”

In the early 1970s, South African tournament golf started the process of becoming fully integrated, and this opened the door for players such as Solly Sepeng, Daddy Naidoo, Richard Mogoerane, Vincent Tshabalala, Theo Manyama and others to compete alongside their fellow white professionals on an equal playing ground. Even though it pretty much came too late in the career of Sewgolum, the significance of this moment and what it meant for South African golf was certainly not lost on him.

“Look at all the golfers, Black and White, mixing freely,” he told the South African sportswriter Norman Canale. “It’s marvelous to be treated as a golfer for a change.” There will be no question that the new Soweto Country Club will stand as an extremely important figure to so many South African golfers whose passion and love for this great game remains an important part of this country’s eminent golf history.”

 

Article courtesy of Soweto Country Club

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