The words ‘golf course’ usually bring to mind rolling green lawns and immaculate putting greens, but say ‘golf course’ to project developer Jurgen Elbertse and his mental picture involves brown fairways of indigenous grasses, inhabited by the odd hippo. According to Jurgen, the proposed Kingfisher Hill golf course that is planned for an oddly shaped piece of land bordering the Olifants River near Mica at the Phalaborwa Hodspruit Road is secondary to the rehabilitation of the riverine vegetation and surrounding area.
He says that the golf course is simply a means to replant the area, and if you are replanting, why not “plant trees in a certain shape.” However, the golf course is only part of the development planned for the remainder of the farm Hoofpyn. This piece of land is long and narrow, and with boundaries of a tar road and the Olifants River is cut off from many of the other wildlife farms in the area. A railway winds through one section, and much of the land is rocky and hilly.
Some of the land was used for farming in the past. The original plan calls for 125 residential stands on the 230ha farm, although the environmental impact assessment may alter this figure. In the hilly section, Jurgen is discussing with architects the possibility of building houses into the hill, so that they disturb the profile of the land as little as possible. Also planned are a club house with hotel facilities (up to 40 beds), an office complex, staff housing, a store and a workshop. At one point close to the tar road, a furniture factory is planned.
One of the existing residents on the land, Edgar Solmes, runs a low-key woodwork operation that uses salvaged indigenous woods. Jurgen hopes to make his furniture and crafts more accessible to the public through a new outlet when the property is developed. Solmes does much of his work with mopane wood, but also has access to other woods like matumi and blackwood.
Regarding the development of the golf course, Jurgen says he intends “to make the golf course that uses the least water in South Africa and possibly anywhere else in the world.” He adds that the initial stages of rehabilitating the derelict farmland will mean using more water until the trees and grasses are established, but that as time goes on the golf course will not be watered in winter.