South Africa: First hand golf course review

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.

First hand golf course review of Arabella putting green by Chaka Travel

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!

First hand golf course review of Pinnacle Point by Chaka Travel

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!

First hand golf course review of Fancourt 18th of Montagu and Outeniqua by Chaka Travel

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!

5 highlights of Kallam’s trip to South Africa

Kallam Craigs, a sales consultant at golf holidays specialists Chaka Travel, has always enjoyed travelling to experience new countries and cultures, especially where he can get a game of golf in too. Naturally, when he visited South Africa for a golfing holiday for the first time, we were very eager to hear his take on this amazing destination, and he has very kindly provided us with some of his favourite parts of the trip. Read on for Kallam’s top 5 highlights of his trip to South Africa and start feeling inspired. As he puts it, South Africa is a place of, “unlimited possibilities, so many different cultures, climates, geographical environments and experiences, it’s like 8 countries all rolled up into one amazing destination and I can’t wait to get back out and explore it further.”

Kallam, Chaka Travel sales consultant on his golfing holiday in South Africa

  1. The views from the course at Hermanus Golf Club

One of the best things about playing golf in stunning destinations is enjoying the beautiful scenery as you make your way around the course. The spectacular backdrop of the Overberg Mountain Range from the Hermanus Golf Club course left the players gawking on every tee box. It’s a sight so breath-taking no photos could do it justice. Definitely an element of this trip I’ll always remember.

Hermanus Golf Club, one of Chaka Travel's favourite South African courses

  1. Pinnacle Point

One of my trip highlights was the transfer to Pinnacle Point and the start of the Garden Route (the famous stretch of south-western coast of South Africa). It was amazing to look out across the Indian Ocean knowing there was nothing between us and Antarctica but miles and miles of ocean, it felt as if we were looking at the very end of the earth as the ocean and sky became one on the far horizon. 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. 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.

Kallam playing golf at the stunning Pinnacle Point, SA

  1. Gondwana Game Reserve

This was one stop on the trip I was extremely excited about – our night on Safari at Gondwana Game Reserve, and definitely something I was able to cross off my bucket list. We adventured out on our evening game drive hosted by our extremely knowledgeable and friendly ranger. Along the way we were amazingly luckily to witness 4 of the big 5; herds of buffalo cantering across the Savannah, an enormous lone elephant roaming through the trees, heavily armoured and intimidating black rhinoceros and last but certainly not least a huge male African lion tucking into his fresh morning catch of wildebeest. Another experience that I will remember vividly for the rest of my life.

Kallam's safari experience in Gondwana Game Reserve, South Africa

  1. Two nights in the legendary Fancourt Golf Estate

Fancourt is a golfing Mecca, a bubble that caters, provides and promotes golf at an exceptional level. The practice facilities are outstanding in quantity and quality, so no excuses for not getting out there and practicing your putting before and after dinner! It was amazing to see the facilities they have; 148 different activities available through Fancourt, 3 championship golf courses, an abundance of golf practice facilities, a top class spa and superb dining options. It really is the kind of place that you could spend 2 weeks and still wake up every morning excited with the prospect of new experiences and activities.

Fancourt Links Course, one of Chaka Travel's staff favourites

  1. Incredible views from a tiny plane

Unfortunately the final day of the trip had arrived and it was time to head home. But not without one last unique experience. My internal flight from the tiny, yet amazingly efficient George Airport to Cape Town was aboard an even tinier plane. The conditions were perfect – blue skies, hardly a breath of wind, and something pilots refer to as visibility unlimited. Just breath-taking.

Feeling inspired by Kallam’s trip highlights? Book your own South African golfing holiday with us, and you too can have the trip of a lifetime. Contact us today.

Chaka Travel’s guide to the best destinations for combining golf and culture

If you love nothing more on holiday than to immerse yourself in the authentic local customs, food and history then you need a holiday that offers a decent amount of culture, as well as some fantastic golf opportunities of course. If you have no idea where to start planning this type of holiday, let us help with our guide to the best destinations for combining golf and culture.

Thailand

For a culturally diverse holiday, Thailand has more to offer the curious traveller than beach parties and backpacker accommodation. This country boasts some of the most spectacular beaches, ornate temples and ancient ruins to explore when you decide to take a break from golfing at a few very prestigious golf courses. We would recommend a holiday that lets you explore multiple resorts to get the full Thailand experience – our Bangkok, Kanchanaburi and Hua Hin golf holiday could be just what you’re looking for. Revel in the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, before unwinding and relaxing completely at the Dheva Mantra Resort & Spa and of course the golfing is spectacular too. We offer guests 5 rounds of golf at different courses so you can get the full experience, complete with stunning mountain and ocean views. Find out more about our Thailand holidays here, and you can also read about our first hand experience holidaying in Thailand and how we did our homework on the incredible golf scene.

Turkey

The Turkish culture is diverse and vibrant, and something you can’t help but immerse yourself in if you visit this beautiful country. If you’re a city-dweller you’ll be right at home in the animated capital of Istanbul, with plenty to entertain including soaking up the traditional arts and architecture. If a beach-vibe is more your style you won’t be disappointed – with its prime location along the Mediterranean Sea you’ll be spoiled by both weather and stunning views throughout your stay. Of course, you came on holiday to golf, so you will definitely be interested to know that the stunning Belek region has the country’s highest density of golf courses – in fact, it’s the most concentrated golfing region in Europe. Find out more about the versatile selection of resorts we offer in Turkey and start planning your trip today.

Malaysia

For a golf holiday filled with unique culture and heritage, Malaysia could be just the place for you. The capital Kuala Lumpur is a melting pot of cultures and traditions, the city is a modern and cosmopolitan capital with the three dominant ethnicities – Malays, Chinese and Indians. We highly recommend an evening wandering through the Chinese market enjoying a lively mix of busy streets with great food, shopping as well as music and dance. The historic, picturesque colonial port of Melaka is 2 hours from Kuala Lumpur and it is a wonderful city to wander around and see the influence that the British, Dutch and Portuguese who controlled this vital port have left. Add other amazing regions including Malaysian Borneo with its exotic wildlife including orangutans and Langkawi Island with its stunning beaches, Malaysia is a wonderful golf holiday destination. We would love to tailor make an itinerary that allows you to enjoy this amazing golfing and cultural paradise.

The best combined golf and spa resorts with Chaka Travel

If you’re looking for a holiday that combines copious amounts of both rest and play, then you need a golf and spa joint holiday resort, as it really does combine the best of both worlds into one amazing getaway for couples. If the thought of having to spend hours researching this type of holiday fills you with dread then fear not, as we have done the hard work for you and selected our top pick of spa and golf hotels for you to choose your favourite from. Read on and be inspired!

Constance Belle Mare Plage, Mauritius

You can enjoy this beautiful resort all year round, and it makes a perfect break for couples, honeymooners, families and of course, all golf enthusiasts. Choose from a luxurious hotel room or suite, or alternatively revel in your own little slice of luxury with your own private deluxe villa and heated pool. The resort’s spa – the Shisheido Pavilion –  provides beauty and relaxation services in one of the most beautiful and serene locations in the world. It’s just the thing for unwinding after a round or two of golf, and at the Constance Belle Mare Plage you have the choice of two world-class championship courses to choose from – The Legend and The Links.

Sofitel Marrakech Lounge & Spa hotel, Morocco

This resort has so much to offer the holidaymaker in search of adventure as well and R&R, and with prices starting from just £750 per person it’s fantastic value too. The hotel is ideally situated by the medina and the famous square ‘Jamâa el Fna’, and offers a holidaymaker the very best in relaxation, food, golf and spa treatments – it even includes an indoor swimming pool, sauna and Turkish steam bath. For getting your golfing fix in, guests can enjoy playing at the Al Maaden course, a beautiful 18-hole course at the foot of the snow-topped Atlas Mountains. Afterwards, relax and unwind with a massage in the luxurious spa, so you feel ready and refreshed to enjoy dinner at the hotel’s international restaurant, which also serves delicious local cuisine too.

Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, UAE

If desert-style holidays are more your thing, then we can’t recommend the Al Maha resort and Spa highly enough – the hotel is set within an idyllic, exclusive desert conservation reserve, and guests can enjoy everything from safari walks to camel trekking to golf (of course!) on the immaculate 18 hole Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club. For spa treatments, the hotel’s ‘Timeless’ spa offers guests the best experience possible, using a stunning infinity pool, sauna, steam room and plunge pool.

Want to find out more about a unique golf and spa retreat for you and your significant other? Look no further – our holiday experts are here to help. We can tailor an idyllic getaway for a honeymoon, an anniversary or any other special trip. Talk to us today and start feeling inspired!

Why choose your next golfing holiday with Chaka Travel?

If you’re thinking about booking your next golfing holiday, we think you’d be foolish not to book it with us. We’ll take care of your every need from the moment you talk to us to the moment you return (when of course you’ll immediately want to start planning your next trip!) Here are the top reasons why you should choose your next golfing holiday with Chaka Travel for the trip of a lifetime.

  1. First-hand knowledge and experience

The reason why we can advise you with confidence about our holiday destinations and resorts is because our staff have travelled to and spent time at many of them. We’ll advise you in everything from local customs to what the golf club expects you to wear when playing, so rest assured we can answer any question you might have before you book. We also love what we do, and our enthusiasm shows in everything, from hand-picking new hotels to playing golf ourselves on many of the famous courses at our resorts.

  1. Protection & peace of mind

We know you want to book your holiday with total peace of mind, which is why our booking process aims to take as much risk out the process as possible. We’ll never ask you to pay for your holiday online, instead we’ll send you an invoice which you can pay by cheque, bank draft or credit card over the phone. Many of our holiday and travel services are financially protected by the ATOL scheme – ask us if you have questions relating to this about specific elements of your holiday.

  1. Completely tailored holidays

If you’re planning a special birthday or anniversary trip, perhaps a honeymoon or even your wedding we can help tailor the perfect holiday for you from start to finish. We’ll take care of everything, from your itinerary to your flights. Find out more about our tailor made holidays on our website.

  1. Trusted by clients for years

A lot of our business comes from referrals from happy customers who have recommended us to friends and family, and we’re also delighted to have so many of them leave us positive reviews about their experiences with us. You can read our happy customer reviews collected by third party review site here to get a feel for who we are and how we like to treat our customers.

  1. Over 30 destinations

We offer holidays to over 30 destinations, from the exotic and far flung destinations, to spots closer to home if long haul travel isn’t your thing. This allows you the widest choice possible and we’ll happily recommend resorts and activities for each location. Take a look at our extensive destinations list to start getting inspired for your next trip.

  1. Fantastic special offers

Here’s another great reason why you should choose your next golfing holiday with Chaka Travel – our incredible deals and offers. We’re always updating our deals with great new resorts, so make sure to check it out regularly here for the best price to your favourite locations.