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Humewood Golf Club: South African Links

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Located in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, along the shores of Algoa Bay, Humewood Golf Club was built in 1929 on a compact piece of coastal land. Renowned British architect Colonel Stafford Vere (S.V.) Hotchkin designed the course, utilizing the natural terrain and sand dunes near the coastline. The course opened for play in 1929 to great renown, called an “enduring masterpiece.”

Humewood quickly earned a reputation as one of South Africa’s finest courses thanks to its scenic locale, natural terrain, and strategic design. Four-time Open champion Bobby Locke proclaimed it the finest course in South Africa in the 1940s, even stating that it was good enough to hold an Open. The club has played host to many prestigious championships, including 5 South African Opens, with winners including Major champions Bobby Locke, Gary Player, and Ernie Els.

In this post, we’ll travel to South Africa and explore its only “true” links course, Humewood. We’ll learn its origins, design, characteristics, and notable holes. We’ll also learn about golf on the African continent, share some further reading suggestions, and link some videos to bring the course to life.

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Origins and History of Humewood Golf Club

In late 1927, Hotchkin was commissioned by Dr. Charles D. Murray to build the course. Port Elizabeth Golf Club wanted to construct a second course and were tired of what they perceived as South Africa’s bland, uninteresting designs lacking in strategic interest. Hotchkin designed the renowned Woodhall Spa in England.

Hotchkin immediately loved the site, comparing it to Prince’s in his native England, and there is a similarity in the routing. Heavily influenced by Harry Colt, Hotchkin applied the philosophy of symmetry with the land and creative use of the site’s natural terrain. However, he may have been most inspired by the Old Course at St. Andrews, leaving the greens open at the front to encourage the ground game and provide the player with options.

With word quickly spreading, Hotchkin also worked on at least three other courses in South Africa, consulting and making modifications. Hotchkin was a significant influence in helping “South Africa realize its golfing potential.”

Humewood Golf Club hosted the South African Amateur Championship and South African Open in 1934, just three years after opening. Humewood has consistently ranked among South Africa’s top 10 courses. Golf World UK ranks Humewood 98 on its “Top 100 Courses You Can Play.”

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Did You Know?

While Africa is home to over 800 golf courses, Humewood is Africa’s only “true” links course, featuring the seaside terrain and coastal landscape typical of the British Isles’ revered courses. South Africa is home to the oldest, Royal Cape, and has the most courses on the continent – over 450, with Humewood consistently ranked among the top 10.

South Africa has produced many accomplished players, including Major Champions Gary Player, Ernie Els, Bobby Locke, Retief Goosen, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, and Trevor Immelman. Zimbabwe’s Nick Price is another native of Africa with a Major win on his resume. The Sunshine Tour is Africa’s main men’s golf tour, with over 30 events held yearly, primarily in South Africa.

All told, golf courses have been built in 50 different African nations, with Nigeria (50), Kenya (40), Morocco (38), Zimbabwe (36), Zambia (25), and Egypt (23) following South Africa on the list. Many of the top courses were designed by legends like Gary Player, Ernie Els, Jack Nicklaus, and Vijay Singh. They incorporate the natural landscapes from deserts to oceans to create memorable golf challenges. Resort courses also offer luxury accommodations.

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The Course

Humewood is a par 72, playing at 6,096 yards, not a traditional out-and-back links, with each nine returning to the clubhouse. The blend of Bermuda and Kikuyu grasses is unusual for links, but the sentiment is that it plays more like a traditional links course than it looks. South African and Masters winner Trevor Immelman holds the course record with 65.

Hotchkin also routed the holes east and west, playing into or away from the prevailing wind. He expertly crafted Humewood’s layout to account for these strong coastal winds, with wide, undulating fairways, firm, fast greens with revetted pot bunkers, and thick coastal brush defining the landscape.

The opening par-4 plays downwind toward the Indian Ocean. Port Elizabeth is known as South Africa’s windiest city, and the course routing takes advantage of the coastal winds, with Humewood’s par-3s all playing in different directions. The short 6th is known as one of South Africa’s toughest, playing into a crosswind to a crowned, well-protected green.

The par-4 13th was included in Golf Magazine’s 500 Best in the World, with a tee shot to an undulating fairway followed by an approach shot to a dune that hosts the small green with trouble to the right. Other notable holes include the one-shot 14th, with a green set on a narrow ridge, and the drivable 16th, with a hidden fairway bunker guarding the approach. The home hole is played toward the clubhouse, with the largest green guarded by the most formidable bunkers on the course.

Visit Humewood Golf Club online at https://www.humewoodgolf.co.za/

Humewood golf club course

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PuttView Books are detailed yardage and green maps designed to help golfers save strokes, especially under tournament conditions. They offer precise visual representations of courses, including topographic slope percentages, fairway arrows for slopes over 4%, and a dual view of greens accurate to the millimeter. The books are printed on high-quality waterproof paper, sized to fit traditional yardage book covers, and are USGA legal. 

Customers praise PuttView Books for their stunning detail, stylish presentation, and the confidence they instill in decision-making on the course. With 30,000 courses represented, your home course is bound to be available, as is Humewood Golf Club!

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Further Reading

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Sand and Golf
by George Waters

Summary: “Sand and Golf” explores how sandy terrain uniquely suits golf, studying similarities and differences between courses worldwide with sandy features. It examines all aspects of the relationship between sand and golf, from the sport’s origins in Scottish coastal dunes to its global spread onto sandy sites. Written by golf architect George Waters with a preface by renowned designer Tom Doak, it details through examples and illustrations why firm, rugged, windy sandy terrain makes creative shot-making integral to the game. The book appeals to knowledgeable golfers interested in course design and architecture, analyzing the art and science behind why golf belongs on sand.

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The World’s 500 Greatest Golf Holes
by George Peper

Summary: More than six hundred lavish photographs complement anecdotal “biographies” and vital statistics of the holes deemed the best in the world by the magazine’s editors and their panel of international experts. Readers will find out if their favorite holes made the cut by first turning to The Eighteen, representing the most respected and challenging holes–holes like the thirteenth at Augusta National. Next, they discover which are considered the top one hundred (no surprise that the eleventh at St. Andrews Old Course and the fifth at Pinehurst are included here). Finally, there is an all-inclusive gazetteer of all five hundred.

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True Links
by  Malcolm Campbell & George Peper

Summary: True Links by Malcolm Campbell and George Peper profiles over 240 of the world’s top links golf courses across the British Isles and beyond, examining their history, design features, and status as an authentic “true links.” Organized geographically, the book offers photos, maps, scorecards and playing tips for renowned seaside tests like Royal County Down, Ballybunion, Cabot Links, Barnbougle Dunes and others that meet the authors’ criteria.  For links golf aficionados, True Links serves as an illustrated guidebook for experiencing the unique joys and challenges of the game’s most revered coastal courses.

Videos

Humewood Flyovers
Humewood
Humewood Tour

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