Kallam Craigs, a sales consultant at golf holidays specialists Chaka Travel, recently visited South Africa for a golfing holiday for the first time, and we were very eager to hear his take on the incredible golf courses he played during his trip. Here’s his first-hand golf course review from the many courses he played in South Africa, and the surprising things you can learn from his personal experiences.
Course 1: Hermanus
On our first day of golf, we were eased into the “swing” of things with 9 holes at Hermanus Golf Club. The stunning backdrop of the Overberg Mountain Range left us gawking on every tee box. This parkland course is very easy to walk around, and famed for its all-year round playability – all in all, a highly enjoyable 9 holes, with the par-4 sixth being the toughest hole on the course as it’s slightly downhill and requires a long approach shot from a hard sloping fairway.
Course 2: Arabella Golf Course
The next morning we adventured onto the highly anticipated Arabella Golf Course. We had been warned that she was a cruel mistress, and they certainly weren’t lying! The course is an amazing challenge for golfers with its tight fairways and lightning fast greens. It was in spectacular condition, which was amazing as the Cape was experiencing a real drought at the time. My golf was shaky to start but I got things together on the back 9, maybe it was the beer at the halfway house! The 18th hole par 5 is without a doubt one of the best closing holes in golf that I’ve ever experienced, it defines the coastal links at Arabella which is a must stop when travelling between the Garden Route and Cape Town.
Course 3: Pinnacle Point
The golf facilities at Pinnacle Point are fantastic and we were shown everything on our site inspection, which was carried out on golf buggies due to the sheer scale of the operation. They whet our appetites by taking us out and showing us a couple of the signature holes on the golf course. I can honestly say I have never been so excited to play a golf course in my life. To put it simply Pinnacle Point is without a doubt the most aesthetically stunning golf course and area in general I have ever seen. Every single hole has the feel of a signature hole and warrants a photograph, the best way to describe the course is dramatic. It’s a fantasy land that you didn’t think was possible on a golf course, tee boxes raised about a hundred feet above pristine fairways, par 4s that can be driven in one if you wish to hit over a 300 foot drop into the Indian Ocean, and par 3s that give you the option of hitting the green or donating more golf balls to the Ocean. The course is kept in spectacular condition and I was lucky enough to actually put a good round together of +2 on the front 9 and +6 back nine (the wind picks up as the day goes on making things VERY interesting) giving me a +8 total of 80, and most impressively only 1 lost ball!
Course 4: Knysna Golf Club
Knysna Golf Club has often been described as one of the hidden gems on the Garden Route. Adjacent to and at the same level as the Knysna lagoon, this flattish parkland layout is the oldest course in the area by a considerable number of years. It is also one that has made excellent efforts to keep abreast of the changing demands of golf. We played a round on the beautiful parkland Pezula course which was in great condition and through up a significant challenge once the wind got blowing!
Course 5: Fancourt
Fancourt is a golfing Mecca, a bubble that caters, provides and promotes golf at an exceptional level. In the afternoon we went out to play the Montagu Course, a par 72 parkland classic Gary Player design, as always it was in spectacular condition and the greens felt like they were running at about 12 on the stimpmeter! The condition of the course as well as the classic layout with tree lined fairways and water hazards galore has earned it the number 6 rank for golf courses in the country. I took on the tour host Werner on the back 9 and finished him 3 & 2 even with giving him a few shots, sweet revenge for the closest to the pin competition back at Pinnacle!
Course 6: George Golf Club
This was one of the most ‘interesting’ rounds of golf I’ve ever played in my life! Oubaai’s course is a classic Ernie Els design, fairly wide and open off the tee, and then everything narrows in towards the hole, there are beautiful views and place is kept in great condition. However, as we were teeing off the wind was blowing so hard that the flag sticks were not just sideways but nearly touching the greens! Huge dark clouds filled with malice were heading straight towards us, huge bolts of lightning sparking the sky to life every couple of minutes followed the deep roar of thunder. I have to say I honestly found the sight of this impending doom quite beautiful and appropriate with the conditions we were playing in, mother nature at full force. The rain drops began to fall on the 2nd tee box and they felt the size of water balloons, freezing cold as well. Then out of nowhere the dark clouds vanished and the sun came out accompanied by a very warm breeze, quickly the temperature had reached about 30 degrees and the half way house cold beer was well needed! I played a much better back 9 and managed to come out with the victory against my two playing partners who are both low single figure golfers! Some how the weather had then turned into quite a cool fresh wind on the back 9 which was followed by a thick mist reducing visibility to about 15 feet as we finished! Never in my life have I experienced such a range of weather conditions in one round of golf, not even in Northern Ireland!