If golfing is a normal part of your international travels, then make sure your next trip includes the golf in South Africa. There’s a reason this is the second-most winningest country of golfers: the courses.
Since the 1940s, South Africans have won more golf majors than any country in the world, other than the United States. And Ben Hogan once said, “The most important shot in golf is the next one.” So why not make your next shot one with lions in the gallery? Few would travel halfway around the world just to play golf, but have you thought about tracking the Big 5 of wild game, relaxing in 5-star luxury, and playing some of the top courses in the world all in one trip? Picture yourself lining up a putt and waiting for a herd of zebra to hush. Consider a morning game drive followed by a round of golf. Imagine sharing a dinner at a world-famous restaurant accompanied by local award-winning wines while you discuss the day’s round. And what about non-golfers? No problem. From spas to shopping, from wine tours to cooking classes, no one offers personalized service and kick-back relaxation like South Africa.
They don’t call it “The Garden Route” for nothing. When you’re driving or flying the coast from Cape Town to Knysna, you’ll understand. Its a lush and inviting ‘garden’ of dramatic scenery, sweeping fynbos landscapes, ancient forests, and breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean. And if you’re curious to know why Pezula wins awards year after year, or why the Fédération Française de Football chose this spot above all others to stay during their (albeit brief) showing at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, then have a stop and look at our favorite South African resort.
A total of 78 exquisitely appointed suites in free-standing two-tiered villas (four to a villa) are linked by short landscaped pathways to the nearby main building and accessed by foot or battery operated golf carts. All suites maximize the spectacular views of the Knysna Lagoon or Indian Ocean and the Pezula Championship Golf Course, and are decorated in a contemporary African style, with warm earth tones predominating. Suites are utterly indulgent, completely private and exude a sense of luxury and comfort from the real log fireplaces to the under floor heating in the bathrooms.
Situated on the lower level of the hotel, the award-winning Pezula Spa is a calm sanctuary that reflects the soul of Africa and provides a world-class health and wellness experience. In fact, it was named Favorite Spa in Africa by the SpaFinder Reader’s Choice Awards and Best Overseas Hotel Spa by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine.
The facilities at the spa include a 12m heated indoor pool, state-of-the-art gynamsium, outdoor jacuzzi, suana and steam room, rainforest shower, nail bar, hair salon, and nine therapy rooms, as well as a post-treatment room with heated water beds. Guests are offered a range of treatments which combine natural therapies with the most technologically advanced equipment available.
South Africa offers some of the world’s most challenging yet most beautiful courses, designed by golfers like Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Ernie Els. Fairways that end in the Indian Ocean where whales regularly break the surface and where the rough is also called ‘the bush’. Sounds that include the hoofs of zebra and the roar of lions and scenery that defies description.
Golfing here is not just about bragging rights among your weekly foursome, its all about the experience. That’s why, among other things, you’ll find longer stops at the turn to enjoy a G&T, the company of fellow golfers, and a stunning South African sky. So enjoy our pick of the top courses in South Africa; they’re ones that you won’t forget easily.
Pearl Valley, the Winelands
This Nicklaus designed course sits in the stunning, mountainous landscape of the Cape Winelands. Every hole is played against the spectacular backdrop of the mountains surrounding the estate and all are challenging due to the startegically set bunkers and fast greens. Its been home to the previous 3 South African Open Championships and ranks as a Top 10 course according to Golf Digest.
Steenberg, Cape Town
One of the top 3 courses in all of South Africa, this Matkovich designed course is played literally among the wine vines. Steenberg’s acclaimed 7th hole is one of the highlights of the course. Virtually surrounded by a body of water, this par 3 hole feautres an even, central plato, and slightly sloping green that demands a meticulous finish. The adjacent water allows scant latitude for over-shooting, yet it is the one hole at Steenberg you’ll look forward to playing; time and again. Steenberg is also one of the few courses where you can bump and run from the green-side rough.
Simola, The Garden Route
Simola Golf & Country Estate, the place chosen to house the Danish Football Club during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, has a Jack Nicklaus designed course on its grounds with exceptional views over the Knysna Lagoon and Knysna River. The course offers challenging and rewarding golf amidst spectacular scenery. Set below the high ridges, it’s free from the wind that so often plagues coastal courses. Fairways flow with the natural undulating contours of the terrain and the unusual configuration of five par 5’s and five par 3’s adds a new dimension to the game. It’s par for the course that every hole boasts exceptional views; either out across the Knysna Lagoon all the way to the Heads or over the picturesque Knysna River as it twists and turns through the valley below.
Ernie Els first championship course design in South Africa is was Oubaai. By far the most
photographed hole on the course is the par-3 17th; the green is below you and framed by the ocean, which influences you to short-club. However, the short distance of the hole from the back tee and the downhill elevation can offer a false sense of security. The four bunkers guarding the green the breeze coming in off the sea can add up to an extra three clubs on those unpredictable Southern Cape days.
St. Francis Links, St. Francis Bay
Jack Nicklaus says, “it may be the best course I’ve ever seen.” The St. Francis Links are and undulating and unpredictable terrain with fine coastal grasses. St. Francis is also a Top 10 Golf Course according to the experts at Golf Digest.
Adjacent to its luxury hotel, the Pezula Championship Course rates among the best and most scenic courses in the country. It was awarded Best New Golf Course only one year after it opened, and has been been given a 5-star rating by Compleat Golfer every year since 2005. The course is full of incredible elevation changes from cliff-top to ocean surf. It is a Nicklaus designed course and ranks in the Top 25 with Golf Digest.