Course Review and Comments
There are a few novelty courses that offer something unique in terms of the scenery, design or gameplay but none as memorable Simbithi. This was one of the most enjoyable golfing experiences I have had. Simbithi is a par 60 layout, near Shaka's Rock in the KZN north coas, with 13 par 3s, 5 par 4s and 1 par 5. Now don't be fooled into thinking this is a silly upgraded mashy course. The par 3s range from long 200m holes to confusingly short 70m holes with varying tee box elevations. The longer holes are cleverly designed and challenging in their own right too. The greens are also guarded by deep bunkering, water holes and thick vegetation. All making Simbithi, for all intents and purposes, a challenging full 18 hole golf course.
Carts are essential and while the overall length is short the elevations and distances between holes make walking a time consuming and tiring option. Simbithi, being such a short course, has the luxury of pushing large numbers of players through each day so the decision to enforce the use of carts to speed up play is understandable. On an open day, a 2 ball can probably get around the course in 2 hours. To add to all of this, the clubhouse facilities are magnificent, with a fancy restaurant and bar overlooking the 18th.
The conditioning on the course is great and in my opinion, compares well with its close neighbour Zimbali. Overall the course has a general classy feel about it and for the relatively low green fees, is somewhat unexpected. The few fairways that form part of the course are in top nick including those around the greens of the par 3s. The bunkers are also consistent through the 18 and are quite playable. As with other courses on the eastern KZN dunes, the fariways are flanked by bushy vegetation endemic to that area. While this is marked as rough on this course, searching for your ball is pointless and somewhat dangerous. I saw 2 snakes during my round. Nonetheless the vegetation does not come into play too much unless your tee shot is way off and because for the best part of the round your driver is in the bag, the risk of wayward tee shots is low. There is plenty water on the course, the majority of which protects the greens. A number of holes require clinical acuracy when approaching the greens albeit in this case from the tee. I found the greens to be quite tricky and tough to read particularly without local member to assist. The greens are however in superb condition and as I have seen with other courses in the area, are quite slow.
The boring purists might not appreciate the abbreviated layout but I loved it. It is true that the course requires less thought process, because for the majority of the round, the most difficult decision I was faced was club choice off the tee. You are not daunted by questions of laying up or attacking, driving long or playing it safe or intentionally using the extra shot granted by your handicap. Rather you are focused on the task at hand and can attack each hole as if you we're a tour veteran. And that was refreshing.
For me, elevated tee-offs on a par 3 are always memorable, but none as much as the 17th. Having checked the score card before I got to the hole, I expected a short 70m par 3 with some variation in layout. What I got was an intimidating but magnificent elevated tee with an island green. The green is located in a dam with small narrow entrance at the back. Honestly, you need nothing more than a small flop shot to make the green but obviously length and line are critical. If you're playing the hole for the first time, getting your length right is tricky but in truth it's not too difficult. However if you stand on the tee box in awe and are hesitant with your swing then you may run into trouble.
Simbithi is without doubt one of the most gratifying courses I have played. Next time I am in the area I will make sure I get another round in and take some family and friends along too. It is ranked 100 in the golf digest top 100 courses in SA, and might have been better ranked had it not been for the short layout. Higher handicaps will enjoy the course too, as I can testify. The service levels are also top notch so well done to the team at Simbithi for what I think is a gem on the South African golfing map.
More user reviews for Simbithi Country Club
January 14th, 2014 23:08
Great experience, take only your irons. This is NOT a machie course. One of the best courses to play on the north coast!
July 25th, 2008 05:37
Have played the course numerous times , I enjoy it more each time .A true test of thinking golf .14th hole , I thinkit is with a ridiculous green ,should be bulldozed and start again Excellent course
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