A project to enhance the golf course at Soweto Country Club in Johannesburg, South Africa, is now underway.
Gary Player Design is leading the project. Player is the original architect of the course, which opened back in 1972.
Jeff Lawrence, vice president and senior designer at Gary Player Design, spoke to GCA about a project close to the Black Knight’s heart.
“Gary Player Design has been asked to provide design services to Soweto CC, as well as recommend technical improvements to this historic club,” Lawrence said. “The routing of the golf holes will remain intact, with a few refinements to add length and increase par to 72. The main focus of the design improvements will concentrate on green complexes, tees and fairway bunkers, which will add design character and strategic value to the existing design. A new irrigations system will also be installed to help facilitate improved turf conditions on a consistent basis. Our intentions are to maintain the original characteristics of this iconic layout while enhancing the overall golf experience.”
Lawrence said the course’s conditioning will be improved “tremendously”, and that a number of new design features will be enjoyed by golfers once the project is completed.
“Leveling tees, adding more strategy to the golf course, improving turf conditions and making meaningful design improvements will provide the most enjoyment for the golfers,” he said. “Re-establishing Soweto CC as a community-based golf facility that will support the advancement of golf is truly an honour for Gary Player to be involved with.”
A Johannesburg native, Player has taken the decision to provide his firm’s design services free of charge.
“Gary Player is providing his design services at no cost simply because he wants to give back to the game of golf and provide a facility that will inspire young golfers within the Soweto community,” Lawrence said. “Gary Player has a long-standing relationship with Soweto CC and many fond memories of playing there as a young professional. This is a huge team effort and Gary Player Design is proud to be part of the collective efforts of many people and organisations that support this great cause.”
The project is being supported by the City of Johannesburg. Southern Turf Management has been hired as the project’s contractor, with Hunter Irrigation to provide a new irrigation system for the course.
Construction got underway this month and is expected to be completed in late 2018, with the course likely to reopen for play in 2019.