It's over a century old and the most populous black residential area in South Africa, but Soweto, whose past residents include Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, has never been able to boast a world class golf course. That is set to change with the building of a golf course and estate, designed by South Africa's Sportsman of the Twentieth Century, Gary Player.
Work on the course is expected to start later this year. It will cover 90ha and be built on land donated by Sasol.
Situated between Pimville and Goudkoppies, the cost of construction will be R60-million. A development deal has been struck between the City of Johannesburg and Tiyani, a consortium consisting of Investec, Standard Bank and Shanduka.
Residential golf estate
The project manager of the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC), Alan Dinnie, who manages Johannesburg's property portfolio, says the course will form part of a residential golf estate that consists of 238 units.
He explained: "The golf course will be an 18-hole Gary Player signature PGA tournament standard golf course that will be capable of hosting international golf tournaments. (It will have) a club house built to PGA standards, a driving range and a golf academy."
The academy, which will be operated by the South Africa Golf Development Board, will work at improving golf in Soweto. People from disadvantaged backgrounds will be offered subsidised coaching.
Retail and office plots
In addition to the golf course and the residential estate, four retail and office plots have been set aside. They will be available for development by public tender once work on the course starts, says Dinnie.
Johannesburg already has ambitious plans for the upgrading of Huddle Park, a mixed-use development managed by Tiyani. A R3-billion plan includes upgrading the existing golf course into a commercial component that consists of an 800-unit upmarket golf estate with an associated 32 000m² mixed-use retail centre, a private Gary Player signature golf course, and a "world-class" walking trail.
The plan further includes the development of two new standard public golf courses elsewhere in the city.
Dinnie says the new Soweto Golf Course depends on the upgrading of Huddle Park.
In 2005, the City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng province found that the existing Soweto Golf Course had to be moved to provide much-needed land for housing in Kliptown. Two phases were adopted to make the move.
The first phase was a short-term relocation, which involved the modification of four holes, thus releasing a portion of land for social housing development on the western edge of the course.
That phase was completed in 2005 and the construction of houses has since begun. The second, long term, phase involves the complete relocation of the golf course.
Talks were held between the community and the Soweto Golf Club, resulting in an agreement that the course would be relocated, but the existing course would not be turned into housing before the new course was ready for play.
Playable by December 2008
According to Dinnie, "The golf course is expected to be playable by December 2008, if the development starts later this year.
"The golf course will be managed, maintained and operated by SATour and the SAGDB, under a lease agreement that ensures public access to the course."
He also said the Tiyani Consortium will build another course, on Mia Trust land, north of Johannesburg. It will be similar to the new Soweto Golf Course and will cater for under-privileged communities.
Source: City of Johannesburg