Zimbabwe’s Chapman Golf Club can trace its roots back to 1928 when the Salisbury Raylton Athletic Club played over nine rudimentary sand greens and across a patch of rough scrub bush. Courses had already begun to spring up alongside the newly built Rhodesian railway line and it seemed fitting that the General Manager of the Rhodesia Railways, Lieutenant-Colonel Birney, opened the original course in 1928.
The club continued to work hard on the development of the golf course over the next decade. 2,000 trees were planted, bunkers installed and eventually the ground was seeded. Around the time of the Second World War, the club received financial help from the railway company via Sir Henry Chapman, who was then the General Manager of Rhodesia Railway. Salisbury Raylton Athletic Club was subsequently renamed the Henry Chapman Golf Club in his honour.
We’re not entirely sure who was responsible for the original design of the course, but there is no doubting the pedigree of Chapman Golf Club. Host to numerous Zimbabwe Open Golf Championships, with homegrown winners such as Nick Price and Mark McNulty, Chapman Golf Club is still one of Africa’s finest golf courses. But perhaps the most lively debate centres around whether near neighbour Royal Harare Golf Club is a better layout than Chapman.
Zimbabwean, Peter Matkovich, redesigned today’s Chapman Golf Club in 1995 and the course now measures more than 6,500 metres from the back markers. The course benefits from excellent tee to green conditioning in pleasantly undulating parkland topography and there’s also clever use of water hazards.
Perhaps the pick of the holes include two long par fours. The 6th features a lake that guards the green for the approach shot and the 11th has a fearsome approach to a well-bunkered green which lies across another stretch of water.