South Africa has produced some amazing golfers, from Gary Player to Retief Goosen, and rising stars like Trevor Immelman and Tim Clark. That’s probably because they got their start on some of the best links in the world. If you’re taking your swing to the continent, don’t miss these 15 great golf courses in South Africa — listed here in no particular order of “greatness.”
This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.
1. Leopard Creek, Malelane
Don’t mind the baboons, monkeys and impalas that will be watching you as you play on this wild but elegant course near the southern border of Kruger National Park. Leopard Creek co-exists nicely with the bushveld, creating a perfectly manicured setting amid the local fauna. From the river’s-edge green of the par-five 13th, players often see hippos and elephants, and from the elevated tee at the long 15th, players get an amazing view of the surrounding savanna.
2. The Links at Fancourt, George
South Africa’s most challenging course, The Links at Fancourt is a former flat airfield-turned-golfer’s dream. Players navigate through high mounds and dunes covered in picturesque tall bush grass and on many holes one can catch great views of the Outeniqua Mountains. The course is also dotted with lovely small lakes and marshes.
3. Arabella Golf Course, Kleinmond
The Botrivier Lagoon southeast of Cape Town is the largest lagoon in South Africa. Around it winds this stunning course with with pristine grass, tricky sand traps and challenging water hazards. Players are pleasantly distracted by 130 different species of birds, the Kogelberg Mountains, and can end their day at an 18th hole that was voted the best finishing hole in South Africa.
4. Durban Country Club, Durban
Durban Country Club is one of South Africa’s most respected institutions, with not only a world-class course, but also a spa and fine-dining restaurant. The dunesy holes next to the Indian Ocean make this course unique, and the narrow valleys, tight routes and famous winds make this a truly challenging course.
5. Pearl Valley Signature Golf Estate & Spa, Franschhoek
This Jack Nicklaus-designed masterpiece features nine manm-ade lakes and manicured bent-grass greens, and sits in the gorgeous Franschhoek winelands. Players like to stop for a deep breath at the waterside green on the par-three 13th hole.
6. Pezula Golf Club, Knysna
Pezula Golf Club sits on the cliff-top plateau known as Knysna Heads. On one side, players have views of a lagoon; on the other, the Indian Ocean, and surrounding them are the Outeniqua Mountains. This is a slightly wild course, not suited for golfers who prefer manicured greens. But the sand dunes, waves crashing below and sometimes-fierce wind make for an invigorating and challenging round of golf.
7. Steenberg Golf Club, Cape Town
Open since the mid-90s, Steenberg features a hybrid design: part traditional, with hills of bent grass and sand-and water-protected island greens, and part modern because of the real estate hugging some of the fairways. Players enjoy it all with a glass of Steenberg’s own merlot at the 19th hole.
8. Humewood Golf Club, Port Elizabeth
Humewood hosted the 2006 South African Open and is the only natural-links course in the country. Sitting in the gorgeous coastal city of Port Elizabeth, the club is considered to be of first-class pedigree with an elegant clubhouse at the 19th hole with amazing views of Algoa Bay.
9. Royal Cape Golf Club, Cape Town
Royal Cape, which has hosted the South African Open 10 times, has been around since 1885. The original layout was a bit rough, but the course has come a long way since then, with well-grassed fairways, perfectly manicured greens and challenging bunkers. Top players like Gary Player, Ernie Els and Trevor Immelman have all enjoyed the course.
10. Simola Golf & Country Estate, Knysna
Sitting above the picturesque Garden Route in the town of Knysna, Simola is home to lush indigenous vegetation and forests, making for a unique golf experience. The property doubles as a five-star hotel with a gourmet restaurant and outstanding spa.
11. Wild Coast Sun, Port Edward
Situated on a sweeping and beautiful stretch of coastline, Wild Coast Sun is the only golf course in South Africa designed by renowned golf architect, Robert Trent Jones, Jr. It’s a short but compelling course, and it has hosted several PGA tournaments over the years. For something a bit different, the 13th hole is played across a ravine and a waterfall. You’ll be hard-pressed to keep your eye on the ball and drag your gaze away from the rugged beauty of the coast.
12. Pinnacle Point Beach & Golf Resort, Mossel Bay
A relatively new golf course and resort, Pinnacle Point Beach has swiftly become a favourite in South Africa’s golfing circles. An 18-hole championship course designed by Peter Matkovich and Darren Clarke, the course stretches over 4km along the coast, with resultant clifftop views to tempt you away from the game.
13. East London Golf Club, East London
At the heart of the Eastern Cape, this golf course is very traditional but offers a championship course which has seen the club play host to the National and Regional championships in South Africa. Set on the coast, the green offers outstanding views of the Indian Ocean and Nahoon Reef, with its surf break. It’s a relaxing but challenging course that’s a combination of Parklands and Links formats. The course is home to a family of impala and an abundant birdlife, but no birdies or eagles outside the game!
14. Hans Merensky Hotel & Spa
You’ll be spoilt for choice here. Not only is there a great course to play on (designed by Bob Grimsdall), but there are a host of other activities on offer. Set right up against Kruger Park, this golf and spa resort can provide a game of golf, a game drive, and also a spa as well as other options. You may be put off your swing by the wild residents including a resident giraffe, zebra and crocodiles. It’s sure to keep you on your toes! Bring a camera along with your golf clubs as you won’t want to miss this unique course and its wildlife.
15. Sun City, North West Province
Sun City may be a vast playground known more for its entertainment and casinos, but it also has a couple of golf courses to help you relax. The huge Lost City golf course has real crocodiles at the 13th hole — unlucky indeed, and giving a whole new meaning to “in the rough.” There is also the Gary Player Country Club and Golf Course, which is one of the most famous in South Africa and hosts the prestigious Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Related content on AFKTravel: