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Course Designers

Course Designers

Bob Grimsdell

Bob Grimsdell was South Africa’s premier golf course architect for almost half a century, from the 1930s through to the end of the 1970s. In his lifetime he was evidently involved in over a hundred commissions.

He was born in England about 1897, and came to South Africa as a teenager on his own. He served with the SA Forces in France during World War One. He became a pro golfer after the war and served as the club pro at Chorley Golf Club in Lancashire. There he became interested in golf course architecture, and began friendships with two of the leading designers of the time, Harry Colt and Charles Alison. It was from them that he learned much of his skills as a designer.

Grimsdell and his wife moved back to Cape Town in the early 1920s, where he took the club pro position at Mowbray Golf Club. In 1926 he became the club pro at Johannesburg Golf Club. He had that job for 20 years and in that time designed several courses. He left Johannesburg in 1946 because of the crime! His house had been burgled several times. He moved to Vereeniging, and began a full-time career as a course architect.

Not much is known about his movements after that before he settled in Nottingham Road. He had a strong association with Scottburgh on the South Coast. He lived in Nottingham Road from the 1960s onwards. That might have been after he designed Bosch Hoek in the early 1960s.

As many as 17 of his courses are currently ranked in Golf Digest’s Top 100, most notably the East course at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington, the River Club in Johannesburg, Victoria CC in Maritzburg, and Sishen in the Northern Cape, which was the last course he designed before he died, in September 1986.

Grimsdell was also a good golfer himself. He was runner-up in both the 1931 and 1932 South African Opens, and reached the final of the old SA Pro Matchplay Championship on four occasions, losing every time, in 1925, 1927, 1929 and 1932.

Sean Quinn (Redesign – 2013)

Sean grew up the son of a Golf Professional, in Zimbabwe playing Junior golf from the age of 8.

Sean has been involved in the Golf Design and Construction business for 22 years. Sean joined Golf Data, a South African based company in 1991 and is still a director thereof. In January 2006, Sean was appointed Nicklaus Design Associate for Southern Africa, and in 2012 his area of responsibility extended to Australia/New Zealand.

Sean has been involved in all eight Nicklaus Designed golf courses built in South Africa, the first four as construction manager/design coordinator, the last four as a Design Associate.

As a Nicklaus Design Associate, Sean is responsible for converting Jack Nicklaus’s design intent first into working drawings and ultimately into reality. The latest Nicklaus course in South Africa “Steyn City” , complete but not officially open is a Nicklaus Design non-signature course; Sean was solely responsible for the entire course design and personally managed the construction process.

As Golf data’s designer Sean has been responsible for the design and redesign of 16 courses around South Africa. Sean is well-travelled having visited and played many of the iconic courses in both the UK, USA; Far East; Australia and New Zealand.

Sean has hands on experience from the initial stages of design, to the coordination with various project professionals’ right up to project commencement and implementation.

Mentors include: Jack Nicklaus, Chris Cochran, Greg Letsche and Robbie Marshall.


  • Sean has been personally involved with no less than 25% of the top 100 golf courses in South Africa as rated by Golf Digest.
  • Of the Nicklaus courses opened in South Africa to date, 5 of the 6 have achieved “Best New Course” in the year of opening, the 6th being Houghton, was rated in the same year as winner, Serengeti.
  • Leopard Creek is a Gary Player course, redesigned by Jack Nicklaus has been ranked Number 1 in South Africa since 2008 after redesign.
  • For 7 consecutive years, from 2007 to 2013 the South African Open, has and will be hosted on courses Sean was comprehensively involved with, namely Pearl Valley, Serengeti, Durban CC and Glendower.