The Club officially opened on the farm Zwartkops in 1933. It was fairly modest, with the old farmhouse being used as the original clubhouse. The layout of the golf course was fairly similar to what it is today, although over the years, as with many golf clubs, ground has been sold off and expropriated. In our case, one section went to government for the development of Hans Strydom Rd.
The Club was originally owned by Iscor, whose head office was located about 5 miles up the road towards Pretoria and although it was always open to other members, the membership was made up predominantly of Iscor employees. At that time the Club was a genuine Country Club which had a large swimming pool, squash and tennis courts, bowls and horse riding facilities.
The first professional, Otway Hayes, was hired in 1940 and other than for a few years during the Second World War, he remained at the club for 56 years, until his retirement in 1996. As with most Clubs during the War years, Zwartkop barely survived but in the late forties and early fifties, the memberships started to increase and Zwartkop got to be known as a good, solid test of golf with a friendly atmosphere. In the early fifties a gentleman by the name of Jack Tucker became the President of the Club. He was a very influential man in golf and later became the President of the South African Golf Association. This enabled him to get Zwartkop onto the rota to stage the South African Open and the South African Amateur Championship. Zwartkop still boasts being the only club in Pretoria to host an SA Open, which it did in 1955. That Open Championship was won by Bobby Locke and his winners gold medal is still proudly displayed at Zwartkop.
Bobby Locke & Reg Taylor at the SA Open
Bobby Lockes Medals
Reg Taylor was the SA Amateur Champion that year and became the greatest amateur golfer South Africa has ever had. He won the French and Canadian Amateurs amongst many others and represented South Africa as a Springbok on many, many occasions. That SA Open Championship went a long way to lifting Zwartkops prestige. Just prior to the Open Championship, Zwartkop had moved into a new clubhouse and at about the same time, Bob Grimsdell was called in to renovate the golf course. Bob Grimsdell built and renovated over a hundred golf courses in South Africa through the fifties and sixties and his work at Zwartkop greatly enhanced the playability of the golf course. The golf holes weaved through large trees with water coming into play on ten holes. Bob Grimsdells philosophy for Zwartkop due to the water and tree lined fairways was not to make it a long golf course, but rather to have strategic bunkers and smallish greens. In that way it would be a course that was fun to play for the members, as well as being a good test of golf for the excellent amateur or professional. Through the late fifties and sixties, South Africa produced excellent golfers. John Fourie, John Hayes, Rod Mullen and Cheran Gerber were all Springboks, and members at Zwartkop, who were taught by Otway Hayes. The next group consisted of Dale Hayes, Wilhelm Winsnes, Louis and Ingrid Norval who were also amateur or Springbok golfers. Another excellent player who came through the ranks & finished runner up in the SA Amateur was George Schwartzel, the father of one of the worlds most exciting golfers right now, Charl Schwartzel. Over the years many of the worlds great champions have walked the fairways of Zwartkop. Back in the early sixties Gary Player brought Arnold Palmer to South Africa to play in a series of exhibition matches, one of which was held at Zwartkop. In 1966 the Dunlop Masters was staged at Zwartkop. At that time other than Gary Player, our leading players were the Henning Brothers, Cobie le Grange, Papwa Sewgolum and Denis Hutchinson to name a few, but it was won by Cedric Amm who played four flawless rounds to win his only tournament on our Sunshine Tour. Also in 1965, Gary Player brought Jack Nicklaus out to play in a series of exhibition matches and once again Zwartkop was the venue for one of the matches. Billy Casper was next to play against Gary Player at Zwartkop and a number of years later it was Lee Trevino, Seve Ballesteros, Gene Littler and Gary Player that made up a four-ball for a wonderful series that is still remembered by many golfers in South Africa.
Gary Player & Jack Nicklaus at Zwartkop CC
In the seventies and eighties, many professional tournaments were played at Zwartkop, the first being the Bert Hagerman, which was won by Dale Hayes with a score of 22-under par. Then came the Sigma Series, which was won by John Bland. That was followed by one of the longest running tournaments South Africa has ever had, the ICL. It started at Kensington GC and then moved to Zwartkop in 1984 where it remained until 1995. Some incredible players teed it up in these events including Tony Jacklin; the Open & US Open Champion; Bob Charles (the great New Zealand left hander); David Feherty, who now commentates on the PGA Tour; Nick Faldo; Sandy Lyle and Seve Ballesteros in addition to all of South Africas leading players at that time. It had winners the likes of David Feherty, Gavan Levenson, Nick Price and Tony Johnstone.
David Feherty; winner of the first ICL at
Zwartkop in 1984
Tony Johnstone; winner of the 1987 & 1988
ICL Tournaments at Zwartkop
After 1994, many companies in South Africa decided to focus on their core business and Iscor was no different. Although they owned a number of golf courses, they made the decision in the late nineties to sell off Zwartkop. At the time, the Club hadnt been doing too well which made it ideal for an outside investor to purchase the golf course. For the Hayes family this was a dream come true. Having been born at Zwartkop and grown up alongside the 4th fairway, to be given the opportunity to own the Club was one that could not be passed up on. An offer was made to Iscor and in 2001 the Hayes family took over ownership. So in one way or another, the Hayes family has been involved at the Club since 1940.
The philosophy for the Club is to offer a friendly, golf experience at a reasonable price. We see ourselves as a mid-range members club and believe that we need to maximize the usage of all aspects of the Club. Zwartkop has a golf course; golf academy and Golf Management Campus, facilities for conferences, weddings and other functions, a hair salon, two bowling greens and a small snooker club and is incorporated into the Zwartkop Golf Estate, a secure housing estate development.