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Sishen

Northern Cape, Northern Cape
ArchitectBadgeBob Grimsdell
Northern Cape, Northern Cape
Rankings
  • AddressHans Coetzee St, Kathu, Northern Cape, 8446, South Africa

The mining town of Kathu, “the town under the trees,” sits in a huge Camelthorn forest at the southern edge of the Kalahari Desert in the Northern Cape. This extensive bush area, along with a number of nearby saltpans, was given nature reserve heritage status in 1994.

Sishen Golf Club is located on the edge of town and the course was constructed by the Sishen Iron Ore Mine in 1979, three years after the completion of a railway line to Saldanah on the Western Cape opened up export markets, expanding mining operations in the town.

The original intention of mine manager Solly Watson was to spend a quarter of a million rand on a 9-hole layout, but that budget was doubled, then that sum tripled before an 18-hole layout was completed at a cost of 1.5 million rand.

Sishen was the last course designed by Robert Grimsdell and its lush green fairways (thanks to a recently installed irrigation system) are bounded by stands of trees and desert vegetation – visiting golfers are often pleasantly surprised by the great condition of the course in such an arid golfing outpost.

In this edited extract from the book South African Golf Courses: A Portrait of the Best author Stuart McLean comments: “A round of golf at Sishen is an excellent stop-over for anyone en route to the Kalahari Gemsbok Park, a splendid game reserve often regarded as superior to the Kruger National Park for game viewing.

It is hard to visualize a golf course in this flat shrubland, let alone one reputed to be so good. Yet Sishen is not a desert course, typical of the landscape. It was carved out of one of the largest camel thorn forests in southern Africa. There are hundreds of these tall, beautiful trees on the course, creating a magnificent parkland layout in a serene and picturesque setting.

Typical of a mine course, where there is always an abundance of water, the fairways are lush and the grass greens putt as smoothly as bent grass. The excellent condition of the course cannot be doubted, as this is the foremost consideration when professionals rate a course. The quality of the layout is impressive and the course is one of Grimsdell’s finest designs.

Every tee shot has to be perfectly positioned, not only to avoid the numerous trees that stand like tall sentinels at various positions along the fairways, but to have a shot at the pin. The trees are so thick that they have the same effect on a golf ball as a brick wall – the ball plummets straight to the ground, and if it is a balata cover there may be thorns embedded in the skin.”

The mining town of Kathu, “the town under the trees,” sits in a huge Camelthorn forest at the southern edge of the Kalahari Desert in the Northern Cape. This extensive bush area, along with a number of nearby saltpans, was given nature reserve heritage status in 1994.

Sishen Golf Club is located on the edge of town and the course was constructed by the Sishen Iron Ore Mine in 1979, three years after the completion of a railway line to Saldanah on the Western Cape opened up export markets, expanding mining operations in the town.

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Course Architect

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Bob Grimsdell

Bob Grimsdell was a skilful professional golfer and the pioneer of golf course architecture in South Africa whose legacy has been largely overlooked outside of his adopted homeland.

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