Soweto to get posh golf estate

SOWETO is to get a new golf estate which could even become home to the annual Nelson Mandela Golf Tournament.

Today Metro can confirm that construction
of a R35-million golf course, designed by internationally acclaimed South African golfer Gary Player, is due to start next year.

The deal was struck after a consortium, comprised of Standard Bank, Investec, Peu Investments and Cyril Ramaphosa’s Shanduka Properties, pitched the new course as part of its bid to upgrade Huddle Park in Linksfield.

The Joburg Development Agency this week confirmed that the plans for the golf course in Pimville had already cracked the nod from golf lovers at the Soweto Country Club.

The Gary Player Signature Golf Course will also become the new home of the Soweto Country Club, which is to make way for low-cost housing.

The club, established by black professionals, including golfers such as Solly Sepeng, Theo Manyama and Vincent Tshabalala in 1974, has around 500 members.

Nkosinathi Manzana, JDA development manager, said the new golf estate would be built on 105ha of council-owned land situated between Union Road and Vista Koppies in Pimville.

Details of the new estate have been released just two weeks after President Thabo Mbeki criticised exclusive golf estates as a way of entrenching race and class divisions in the country.

Mbeki, addressing a crowd at the mixed-income Brickfields residential project in Newtown, said that the poor were condemned to dusty, semi-developed land far from modern infrastructure while the best land was allocated to create gated communities such as golf estates.

The new Gary Player Signature Course at Pimville will provide access to golf for the broader public, and housing on the estate will be affordable.

Manzana said the course would allow ordinary residents in the area to make their way to the fairways.

While no detailed plans for the housing development have been drawn up, Manzana said the aim was to draw middle-income buyers.

An initial 75 stands would be serviced by the consortium, as part of an agreement, and more houses would be built in the complex once the golf course is completed.

He said that upon completion of the golf course, the Johannesburg Property Company would step in to develop the plans for housing units on the estate.

This might be done in conjunction with a private housing developer, said Manzana.

Jubie de Jager of Gary Player Design said the new Soweto Country Club and Golf Estate would be a world-class tournament, 18-hole course.

A large component of the design would be devoted to providing a development facility where young black players could be coached to perhaps become the next Tiger Woods.

The deal to build this upmarket golf estate was struck in 2003 between Player and Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa during a general conversation about development in Soweto.

Keen golfer and prominent businessman Richard Maponya said he could not wait for the new golf course to open in Soweto.

“This kind of development has been lacking in Soweto. As soon as it is finished, I will be there.”

Maponya predicted that the new course was bound to generate great interest in golf among people in the area.

Article by: MASHUDU MATARI - www.sundaytimes.co.za