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255 miles N of Lusaka
Formed in 1936 as a recreational activity for the employees of the Konkola Copper Mines, Nchanga Golf Club got into the habit of holding major competitions a decade later when the Northern Rhodesia Championship was first played over the course in 1947.
The Zambian Open was inaugurated in 1972 and all but one edition of this annual competition was hosted by either Lusaka or Ndola until Nchanga held the tournament in 2006, a feat that would be repeated by the club in 2011 and 2016.
The course is a classic parkland layout set within a relatively large, undulating site where holes are beautifully routed to make good use of the natural topography and the two crystal clear streams that run through the property.
It’s not a particularly long course but water comes into play on many holes and fairways are tree lined on either side, demanding accuracy off the tee and with the approach shot.
South African Mark Wiltshire upgraded the course before the Zambian Open returned to Nchanga in 2011 when he installed a new irrigation system, constructed new bunker positions and improved green surrounds.
To improve conditioning, the club also purchased additional maintenance equipment and an extensive staff training program was embarked upon.
Our African Correspondent, Stuart McLean, played at Nchanga in March 2016 and had this to say about his visit:
I could see why Nchanga was once rated among the best courses in the world. Bobby Locke considered it one of the best he’d played. It’s in the town of Chingola, an hour’s drive from Kitwe depending on the traffic, where there is a big copper mine, and is built on undulating land through which there is a strong-running stream.
Every second hole is special in terms of both design and demand as a challenge. Tee shots require full concentration. Three of the par fives are exceptional, the 7th standing out for me with its slow climb to a small raised green framed by high and wide trees. The downhill par four 8th to follow was a gem, with a stupendously high tree on the left side.
These courses were not the work of famous designers, but of largely local golfers. Rumour has it that the Nchanga course was built in 1937 by the mine management on neighbouring farm land during a strike at the Chingola mine.