Few know much about the course at the ultra-private Millvale Golf Estate, which is located in the North West Province, near Koster and not far from Rustenburg. Back in January 2012, we stated that we should feature Millvale within our South African rankings, but we hadn’t seen enough of the 6,839-metre course at that time. Fortunately things changed in March 2013 thanks to the inaugural Investec Cup tournament, a four-day limited-field event that officially marked the end of the Sunshine Tour’s summer calendar.
Millvale is South Africa’s most private course, owned by Investec, the investment bank, for the use of its top management and clients. It’s also remotely situated in attractive bushveld surroundings to the west of Johannesburg, in the North West Province, so it has very limited play. Investec do not allow Golf Digest South Africa access to rate the course for their biennial Top 100 rankings.
Despite its exclusivity, though, many South African golfers are familiar with Millvale, due to recent television exposure. Investec are major sponsors of the Sunshine Tour, and Millvale hosts the final event of the Chase to the Investec Cup in March. This is the Sunshine Tour’s version of the FedEx Cup.
Millvale hosted the first round of the Investec Cup, which continued with the second round at Rustenburg Golf Club before moving to Lost City at Sun City for the final 36 holes. This was the conclusion of the “Chase to the Investec Cup” (similar in principle to the Race to Dubai and the FedEx Cup on the European and PGA Tours), where the Sunshine Tour’s top 30 golfers toughed it out for a 5 million rand bonus. For most of the players, Millvale was an unfamiliar layout, even the Investec-sponsored player Christiaan Basson had only teed it up here twice before. However, the journey into the Millvale unknown made little difference for Justin Walters, who carded six successive birdies on the homeward nine, posting a course record eight-under par 64.
Previously, only the first two rounds of the Investec Cup were played at Millvale, the final two rounds being at Sun City. But all 72 holes of the 2016 Investec Cup were at Millvale, a tournament won by Haydn Porteous, with a 12-under-par score of 276. The lowest round from the 16-man field was a 65.
Millvale began as a 9-hole Gary Player course some 15 years ago, built for its original owner, the late Richard Charter, on part of his farm. Tyrone Yates then designed and built another nine holes for Charter. This is now the current back nine, being longer and stronger than the front nine. According to Gary Player: “Millvale is perhaps the most undiscovered gem of a golf course that exists in South Africa. The mix of good golf, an African bushveld environment surrounded by wildlife and immaculate conditioning, creates a unique experience for anyone fortunate enough to play. I am proud of my association with the property as golf course designer.”
Millvale is certainly a tough test with water featuring prominently throughout the round. Slick greens and thoughtful fairway bunkering combine with South Africa’s only floating tee to make Millvale an unforgettable experience for those golfers lucky enough to be invited to play here.