The Challenge Tour kicks off its 2024 season on Thursday in South Africa, with the SDC Open near Bela Bela in Limpopo giving visiting players a sense of the adventure which lies ahead over the next four tournaments.
Zebula Golf Estate & Spa provides a setting like few others. Situated in the Waterberg region, the course is surrounded by nature and wildlife, with animals such as kudu, impala, blue wildebeest, zebra and giraffe being regularly spotted. The course itself was designed by Peter Matkovich and is recognised as one of the best locations in the world for a bushveld layout.
Only two hours from Johannesburg, the course’s wide fairways are framed by indigenous grasses and a variety of trees, with the greens providing smooth putting surfaces.
Designed by Matkovich in 2003, this user-friendly layout lies on rather flat terrain with every hole isolated, meaning there is no interference from players on other holes.
Feature holes include the relatively tough par-four first, which has a 90-degree dogleg to the right and an elevated green, and the unique par-five 15th with its split fairway. The signature par-three eighth has a raised green guarded by three bunkers and water on three sides. When the wind is up, the hole plays tougher than the stroke 15 suggests.
One of four consecutive co-sanctioned tournaments between the Challenge Tour and the Sunshine Tour, some of the best talent from the African continent will tee it up alongside the Challenge Tour’s finest as the 29-tournament season kicks off.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Last year, JJ Senekal produced a scintillating display on home soil to secure a wire-to-wire triumph at Zebula with rounds of 62-67-69-65 on his way to a 25-under-par total.
- The practice green in front of the main building is reputed to be the largest in southern Africa.
- The greens are roped off at night to prevent game from running on to them and causing damage.