The gold-mining town of Carletonville in western Gauteng is one of the richest gold-producing places on earth and the golf course at Goldfields West Golf Club lies around nine miles to the south east of the town in the Wonderfontein Valley.
The golf facility came about during the development of the mine in the late 1940s when the owners called in Bob Grimsdell – former Royal Johannesburg professional – to set out a course with Johnny van der Ness, a mining official, as a recreational pursuit for the workforce.
In this extract from the book South African Golf Courses: A Portrait of the Best author Stuart McLean writes: “Playing the course is more than just a round of golf – it is a delightful stroll in a relaxing, unspoiled environment. The variety of wildlife is a special feature of this golf club; herds of buck roam the course, often galloping across the fairways in front of you, and monkeys play in the trees, Flocks of waterbirds inhabit the dams on the course.
Goldfields West is to all outward appearances a gentle round of golf. It has a strong starting stretch and an equally fierce finishing hole, but for the most part it is not a particularly taxing layout. The fairways are generously wide in most cases and the greens are reasonably large and receptive. Only two par-fours exceed 375 metres; the five par-fives are short by modern standards and are all approximately the same length.”
Holes are routed around a nature reserve and fairways are generally wide and open with water only coming into play between the par four holes at the 3rd and 7th. Two of the one-shotters on the card are found here; the green for the long 4th sits behind a stream whilst the 162-yard 6th sports a large protective dam in front of the putting surface.
On the back nine, a couple of holes take the eye. The 14th is a medium length par four that doglegs left to a green guarded on the left by a large bunker and the 469-yard closing hole is a tough uphill par four that also doglegs left to a green with a large sand trap to the left of the putting surface.
The club is located 74km from the Johannesburg CBD travelling in a Westerly direction. An approximate 1 hours drive. We arrived at 8:30am midweek and in no time we were on our way down the first hole. ( With winter fast approaching we opted for a slightly later start ) In Summer an earlier time would be appropriate as at midday the temperatures could well be into the mid 30's Deg C.
The setting is an attractive "bushveld" course with narrow fairways, limited first cut and then bush. If you miss the fair way and find yourself in the thick stuff there is not much chance of finding your ball. Snakes are a reality so beware.The course has several antelope roaming free and on the odd occasion they do stray onto the greens and cause damage. We also saw Vervet Monkeys, Warthogs, Guineafowl and heard several bird species enjoying the early morning sun. What a pleasure to play a course set in the African bush and that has the smells of the bush. At this time of the year the rains have ceased so the course was dry and in parts starting to show signs of Winter. One or two areas on the fairways were dry and necessitated placing. The greens were hard and often your ball simply ran thru leaving you a challenging return chip.
The signature hole number 6, a par 3 of approx 150mt distance is very pretty. An elavated Tee box with water front and bunkered left and right.
Bunkers were fair and the sand was clean and playable.
The course was well marked and easily walked. Take a walk and enjoy the African busy. Tree name tags are to be found on many trees around the course.
Its a course I will definately play again, pity its an hours drive away.
Played Goldfields West today, for the first time.
On arrival, I found that the Course is not marked all that great, there are only a few signs here and there to indicate where to go, The course it selfs play really well and offer a challenge, but a good challenge, to make you think.
The greens are in a bad state with lots of patches, and on 2 holes there are temporary greens, this is because of some upgrades being made to the course.
I will definitely be back to play it again.