The History of Bosch Hoek
Situated in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, Bosch Hoek Golf Club is home to a nine-hole course that has an interesting history, as it formed part of a farm that was among the original Voortrekker claims to be settled in the 1850s. Jan Abraham Naude & Lucas Janssen van Vuuren were granted 5 863 acres of land, & after an official survey, the property was registered in their names. The survey was done by government draughtsman Alfred Watts, whose original 1855 map of the colony of Natal – on which Bosch Hoek Farm appears – is today a rare item of Africana.
As farming methods improved in the region and the demand for farmland increased, the property was subdivided & sections sold. A century later and vastly reduced in size, Bosch Hoek was acquired by the legendary industrialist Charles Sydney ‘Punch’ Barlow who transformed it into a model farm, employing the most advanced farming methods and animal husbandry. Although it was something of a hobby for Barlow, it became a highly successful operation.
It was in the early 1960s that an interesting connection was made between The River Club, an exclusive private golf club in Johannesburg, and Bosch Hoek. A group of influential businessmen had decided to form their own club in Bryanston, The River Club, and one of these founder members was Barlow. The celebrated course architect Robert Grimsdell was commissioned to design and construct the new club’s layout. A part of the contract Grimsdell undertook to lay out Barlow’s own nine-hole course on his farm in the Natal Midlands.
The first shot on Bosch Hoek was played in 1963, thereafter for thirty years the club remained in the private domain of Barlow and his friends. After Barlow died in 1979, his stepson Peter Gallo acquired the farm and continued to maintain the golf course as a private facility. In 1990, Gallo formed the Bosch Hoek Golf Club & Country Estate and sometime later sold the development to the homeowners of the estate – who in turn sold the golf course to South African entrepreneur, Ivan Clark.
The Bosch Hoek course has the advantage of being surrounded by glorious countryside, and the residential estate, wisely restricted to only 35 properties, is positioned well away from the playing areas. Close to the N3 highway, the course is screened by trees, and it is easily accessible without being negatively impacted by traffic noise. This is a beautiful country course with loads of charm, and the ideal place for a relaxing game of golf in peaceful surroundings.
It was obvious that Grimsdell’s brief was to produce a highly playable layout, and for the beginner or higher handicap golfer this course certainly fits the bill. In 2013, the single-most significant upgrade of the golf course took place. The greens were improved to Bentgrass and a number of very exciting and significant improvements to the golf course were all ably carried out by South Africa’s leading golf course design, construction and maintenance company, Golf Data. The Clubhouse kitchen was also extended and state of the art kitchen equipment installed. The Men’s & Ladies’ change rooms were renovated and the Clubhouse Patio area was extended and upgraded.
The positioning of the eighteen tees is critical to any nine-hole layout, and here the front and back nines are very different. With the outward loop measuring 2 952 metres, and the homeward nine 2 918 metres, this is no monster, and yet lower handicap golfers will find sufficient challenges to keep them thinking. The longest hole on this course is the par-5 3rd which measures 517 metres. The shortest hole is par-3 16th, which Measures 115 metres.
During the months of March through to May, Bosch Hoek, with its deciduous Oaks, Pin Oaks, Liquid Ambers and Plane Trees lining the fairways, transforms into a blaze of autumn splendour.
The quaint Clubhouse, tastefully decorated with a blend of modern and historic period pieces, is alluring and during the winter months, in front of the fireplace, many a good book and fine wine can be enjoyed in the company of its welcoming Members.
For many years the club was not accessible to visitors, but after this condition was relaxed, it has acquired a group of loyal golfers who feel that they have found a hidden treasure.
Bosch Hoek is one of those enduring classics that has remained faithful to its original design, and hopefully will be preserved so for generations to come.