Construction of a second nine is under way at Vulintaba Country Estate, located at the foot of the Drakensberg escarpment in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. The new holes are designed by Dino De Abreu of novoLGCA.
The first nine holes were originally designed by Peter Matkovich in the early 2000s. The course was then redesigned by DDV Design Group when Ni-Da Group purchased the property. The first nine opened in 2013, with a plan to extend to 18.
“The original holes are sympathetically laid out around the site’s natural features,” said De Abreu. “Hole seven plays along one of the many natural water bodies and the eighth is a brilliant par three that utilises the natural landscape.”
Ni-Da Group wants to establish the resort as a world class facility that is able to test South Africa’s best golfers. Alongside golf, Vulintaba Country Estate also includes a four-star hotel, trails for mountain biking and hiking, a 4,000-hectare conservancy area, spa, wedding chapel, conference centre and housing.
Planning for a second nine began in 2017 with De Abreu’s design approved in 2019. The pandemic delayed the start of construction, to June 2021.
“The new nine is laid out on a section of the site known as ‘the Hidden Valley’,” said De Abreu. “It has untouched beauty flanked on all sides with spectacular rolling hills and mountainous peaks. Carved natural drainage channels dictate play and make for great risk and reward golf. Every time I walk onto the site I’ve said, ‘there’s a golf course under here, peel away the upper layer and she’s there’.”
Playing as a par 37 which can stretch to 4,155 yards from the back tees, the new nine has two par fives, six par fours and one par three. Both par fives offer a little something different, with the twelfth hole, at 660 yards, a true three-shotter, while the fifteenth is reachable in two for longer hitters. Seven holes interact with water, and the closing hole is a par three with a green complex positioned near the hotel, for spectator viewing.
“Thirteen holes at Vulintaba will play along natural water,” said De Abreu. “Soft sculpted fairways, shaped to mimic the pristine natural surroundings, make it a shotmaker’s course. Most holes are carved in the valley floor, with a few tee complexes elevated to create spectacular long views over the site’s natural beauty.”
Construction is being handled by Ni-Da Group and overseen by De Abreu, Roger Dos Santos and shaper Joe Smit.
The new nine is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2022.