Golf in South Africa was started by one Lt General Henry Torrens who was sent here in 1885 to head up the British forces in the Cape colony. Only 9 days after his arrival, he set up a meeting at which the formation of the Cape Golf Club (later Royal Cape) was put in motion.
The first course was built in Wynberg where play began in 1886, when golf was a more widely-enjoyed sport and soccer took over as the country's most recognised sporting event. After relocating to the Rondebosch Common in 1891, the Club opened a new course in 1906 on a property in Ottery. Until it was closed in 1910, the course on the Common was kept going, despite a number of hazards you would not normally expect to find at a leading golf club. For example, rugby matches were played across the first hole on Saturdays, the second was right next to a Malay cemetery and the fourth also served as a Municipal rubbish dump. Being a Common, the members of the public were also allowed to ride their horses there and even graze their cows.
It was from this background that the Mowbray Golf Club was formed in 1910 by the group of players who didn't relish the long trek to Ottery and it's because of this heritage that the only rugby you will find at Mowbray is on Saturday afternoons on the big TV screen in the bar.
The original course was designed by a very talented member but over the years many changes have been made according to the designs of leading golf architects of the day. The last major modernization programme was carried out in 1993 and since then, continuous improvements have been the overriding philosophy.
1993 was a tumultuous year in the history of the Club, for on the night of October 31st, the clubhouse was dramatically gutted by fire. Difficult times followed but in December 1994, a magnificent new clubhouse had risen from the ashes and was ready for occupation.
This was not the end of the Club's troubles. A number of problems were experienced with the condition of the golf course. Thankfully, these have all been corrected and the course has now regained its reputation of being one of the most popular golfing destinations in South Africa.
Through the years, Mowbray has hosted the South African Open seven times, the Bell's Cup on three occasions and all major amateur championships. Many of the world's biggest names in golf have played Mowbray, including Bobby Locke, Norman von Nida, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros, Vijay Singh (a winner of the Bell's Cup) Nick Faldo, Lee Trevino and Ernie Els.
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