Umdoni Park, named after the indigenous tree of the same name, was established as a Trust by sugar magnate Sir Frank Reynolds back in 1920 in advance of him presenting the estate to the South African nation. W.H. Horne installed an initial nine holes then Sid Brews added another nine in 1930.
The course occupies an imposing hillside location overlooking the eastern seaboard at Pennington with great views over the Indian Ocean on the rugged front nine. In contrast, the back nine holes wind inland through hilly woodland terrain with some delightful changes in elevation.
Not long by modern standards at 6,120 yards, Umdoni Park is an underrated course and a real hidden gem on the Wild Coast. The signature hole is the uphill 121-yard, par three 12th, named Majuba (meaning “mountain of doves”), where the target green from the tee appears to be perched in the bush. The result of the walk from the 17th green ,through bush, climbing uphill to the tee box for the home hole is simply sensational – the stunning view over the course, the clubhouse and the ocean is one that will live long in the memory.
Umdoni is visually outstanding, with big changes in elevation. This gives great views of the Indian Ocean. The welcome from staff, particularly the lady in the golf shop, is very good. The cart was powered by diesel or petrol, and ran on a dog clutch, so it jerked into motion before running along in noisy fashion. Some of the pathways had been damaged by recent heavy rains, so it was quite a bumpy ride.
The tees were not in good condition. On 16 holes, the blue and red tees were effectively in the same place, with just two metres difference in length.
On the first and tenth, the red tee is shown to be a good deal further forward, but thy are not marked. The tees are generally uneven. The fairways are not well cut, and have a lot of the ‘wrong’ grasses in them. The greens are quite good, of even pace and pretty true and smooth. The course is built on a typical kwa Zulu natal hillside, so you rarely see the bottom half of the flag when you are approaching the green. The price to play here is very reasonable. I am glad we played, but would not hurry back.