Developed by the Ni-Da Group, which is also involved in mining, construction and transportation activities across seven countries, the Vulintaba Country Estate sits a mere 30-minute drive from Newcastle, in the northwest corner of the Kwazula-natal province.
The course lies close to the Drakensberg escarpment, which runs along the border with the Free State, providing the main sporting amenity at an ambitious development extending to almost 582 housing units, a 69-bedroom hotel with spa, and a conference centre.
Opened for play in 2013, the 9-hole layout operates from seventy-two tee boxes, allowing a wide range of alternative tee positions on every hole – with the 3rd and 5th played as either a par four or a par five – and water hazards come into play at six of the holes.
Feature holes include the right doglegged par four 3rd (where a couple of streams ask strategic questions), the downhill par three 6th (played downhill across a small pond to the green), and the par five 9th, which narrows considerably as the split fairway approaches the wetland-protected green.
Stuart McLean, former Golf Digest SA Editor, sent us the following:
Vulintaba was born as Dunblane in 2009. Peter Matkovich designed nine holes, with the intention to increase it to eighteen once funds were available.
However, the original developer went bust, and the property was bought by the local Newcastle company Ni-Da. They decided that a 9-hole course was sufficient, and brought in another architect, Douw van der Merwe, of DDV Design, to design alternate tees for each hole.
The Matkovich design had ended with a par three but Van der Merwe decided it would be better to conclude with a challenging, long par five so he turned the par four 8th and 9th into one hole and built a new par three at the 6th.