KwaZulu-Natal’s most popular golf club is the venue for the Sunshine Tour’s SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun Sibaya for the second year in a row.
Umhlali Country Club’s vision is to be the venue of choice for sports and recreation on the KZN North Coast, and if its high membership numbers are anything to go by, it is certainly achieving this.
Peter Matkovich, who was the greenkeeper at Umhlali in the early 1980s, rebuilt the nine-hole course into the magnificent layout it is today. With beautiful trees framing the sloping fairways and occasional water hazards, this course keeps players on their toes.
It is characteristically varied, providing a fantastic golfing test over the relatively short distance. There is also an abundance of indigenous flora and fauna and the course has simply been sculpted around the inherent beauty of the region.
Standout holes include the par-three fourth which is played from an elevated hillside tee to a green fronted by a large water hazard, and the risk-and-reward par-four 14th which brings water, trees and sand into play from the tee.
The toughest hole on the course is the 422m par-four 15th, which starts with a demanding drive with out of bounds to the right, and a water hazard and a tree to the left. The par-three 18th, played from a high tee to a green in front of the clubhouse, is a memorable closing hole.
It is not only on the course where Umhlali excels, though. In 2016 and 2019 they won the annual John Collier environmental award. They also won the Club Management Association of Southern Africa’s Club of the Year award in 2019 and 2022.
DID YOU KNOW?
- The 2022 SunBet Challenge – Sun Sibaya was the first Sunshine Tour event to be held at Umhlali. It was won by Dylan Naidoo, who celebrated his maiden Sunshine Tour victory after finishing on six-under 207.
- Umhlali also has a tennis club with five courts, plus two squash courts and two AAA-rated bowling greens.
- Umhlali Country Club was ranked 67th in South Africa’s Top 100 Courses this year, a climb of three places from 2022.