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Got a bucket list? If so, golfing in South Africa is likely to be on it. Epic golf courses, beautiful weather, and the opportunity to encounter some awesome beasts along the way. What’s not to love?
Many of Europe’s best golfers are making the short trip from the Joburg Open to play this week’s Tshwane Open. We take a timely look at what the Rainbow Nation has to offer.
The Garden Route boasts many of the country’s finest golf clubs. Add in majestic mountains and beautiful beaches, and you have the recipe for a true golfer’s paradise. Leading the way are the three Gary Player designs at Fancourt, all of which consistently rank among South Africa’s best, whilst a plethora of other championship courses ensure there’s plenty of variety from which to choose.
Gary Player’s greatest masterpiece thus far, the Links at Fancourt is a true gem. Stunning it may be but make sure to pack your A-game. The course, designed to resemble a traditional Scottish Links, is a bit of a brute. Giant dunes, undulating fairways and the Outeniqua Mountains as a backdrop, this majestic course is a truly remarkable feat. Ranked South Africa’s finest course by All Square, the windswept terrain was the stage for the epic tie between Ernie Els and Tiger Woods during the 2003 Presidents Cup. Other events to have been staged here include the 2005 South Africa Open and the 2012 Volvo Golf Champions European Tour.
The Montagu may be the sister of the epic Links course but don’t be fooled, this is no inferior relative. Opened in 1994, the Montagu is the original layout at Fancourt and continues to rank in South Africa’s top ten courses. Fairways like carpets could have been coined for Fancourt. All three courses are maintained in exquisite condition year-round and nowhere is this truer than on the Montagu.
The parkland layout stretches a beastly 7,385 yards off the back tees and its tree-lined fairways and water-features strike a marked difference from the imposing dunes on the Links.
The Outeniqua is named after the mountain range which provides its backdrop. The course in many way mirrors the neighbouring Montagu course. Immaculate tree-lined fairways carve through large water features which provide the principal hazard.
The most open course at Fancourt and arguably the easiest, there are still several risk-and-reward holes to contend with. Water comes into play on eleven holes, including four of the last five, making good course-management vital. White-walled bounded fairways and thatched villas add a unique and characteristic touch to yet another of Fancourt’s must-play courses.
If you’re looking for spectacular scenery, then Simola Golf Club has it by the bucket load. Opened in 2005, the course is one of South Africa’s three Jack Nicklaus designs. Routed either side of the Simola Ridge, the course sits in an awe-inspiring location, overlooking the Knysna River and framed by the Outeniqua Mountains.
The course is equally charming, despite the unusual configuration of five par-5s and three par-3s.
The signature hole is undoubtedly the par-four second. The tee sits dramatically high above the fairway. The result is a stunning vantage point across the opening holes and to the Blue Lagoon beyond.
Pezula means ‘high up with the gods’, a fitting name for the clifftop course which sits above the Indian Ocean at the very end of Africa.
Perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing course on the Garden Route, the course offers views of both the Knysna Lagoon and ocean beyond.
The course does not perhaps match the scenery. Nonetheless there are several great golf holes to enjoy. Among these are the risk-and-reward signature fourteenth. A well-struck and lengthy drive will reach the green. Fail to make it however and a vast sand bunker and thick vegetation is waiting to engulf the errant ball.
There are several other championship courses along the Garden Route. Golfers should be sure to tee up a round at the historic George Golf Club. Meanwhile the Ernie Els designed Oubaai Gol Resort is also a beauty.
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