South Africa is host to some of the best courses and home to some of the world’s top golfers over the decades from Gary Player to Ernie Els and pristine estates across the country. Here are the Top Ten Courses for 2012.
Steenberg Golf Estate: Condé Nast Traveler (US) in its 16th annual golf poll voted Steenberg as the Top Foreign Golf Resort of 2012. Scoring the winning 96.4 points, Steenberg was rated across eight categories. Steenberg has raked in a number of other major international awards, ranging from Global Winner Wine Tourism Services in the Great Wine Capitals’ Best of Wine Tourism Awards 2011, to being rated among the Top 100 Experiences in the World and voted Best Luxury Hotel in Africa 2011 by www.TripAdvisor.com, the world’s largest travel site.
Leopard Creek: On the border of the Kruger National Park and designed by Gary Player, Leopard Creek is rated the best course in South Africa and 25th in the world located outside of the US by Golf Digest USA. Leopards Creek takes full advantage of the nature’s gifts and the bush environment home to the Big Five and over 200 species of birds. Golfers are protected from the wildlife with innovative architectural and landscaping techniques.
The Gary Player Country Club: One of the toughest, longest courses in SA, Gary Player Country Club is grand course designed by the man himself, located at Sun City in the North West. Host to the Nedbank Challenge, Golf Digest USA has ranked the course at number 29 in the world outside the US. The Gary Player Country Club features two holes ranked in Golf Online’s list of the 500 best holes in golf: the 520 metre par-five ninth, and the 402 metre par-four eighteenth.
Fancourt Hotel, Country Club and Golf Estate: Situated in SA’s Southern Cape Province, The Links at Fancourt is ranked 59th in the world outside the US by Golf Digest USA and one of Gary Player’s awesome designs with over 700 000 cubic metres of earth moved to create a typical Links-style course. The course has been host to the 2003 Presidents Cup clash between the USA and the International Team, as well as the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 2005.
Durban Country Club: Golf Digest USA ranked Durban Country Club 62nd in the world outside the US and three of the holes on this stunning course have been included in Golf Online’s top 500. The third is the best hole in the world; the best par-five. Golf Online rated it as high as 18th best hole in the world. Durban Country Club has been host to more South African Open Championships than any other course in the country. Winners on this course include names such as Bob Charles,Gary Player, Bobby Locke, Ernie Els and Tim Clark.
River Club Golf Course: Only members and their guests have access to this gorgeous club course. The very exclusive River Club Golf Course in Sandton, Johannesburg is highly rated. Apart from the course’s immaculate condition, the River Club is home to one of the toughest finishing stretches in the country and a long course at 6 500 metres of play.
Pecanwood Estate: When it opened Golf Digest voted Pecanwood Country Club Estate Best New Course of 1998. Set against the beautiful backdrop of the stunning Magaliesberg Mountains, located in the North West Province and situated on the border of Hartebeespoort Dam is the Jack Nicklaus-designed Pecanwood Golf and Country Club Estate.
Arabella Country Club: Golf Digest named it the best new course in South Africa in 1999 giving it great acclaim and bringing international players to the course to discover its magic. Designed by top SA designer Pete Matkovich, the course has been ranked 100th in the world outside the US by Golf Digest USA. Arabella Country Club is located alongside the largest natural lagoon in South Africa, with the ninth, seventeenth, and eighteenth parallel to the water.
Wild Coast Country Club: Located along the coastline of the Indian Ocean and designed by Robert Trent Jones. Not a long course but it’s by no means an easy one. With its wide fairways can present a very difficult challenge when the wind comes up. The signature hole is the par-three thirteenth at 146 metres and is included in Golf Online’s 500 best holes in the world.
Glendower Golf Club: Built in 1937, Johannesburg’s Glendower Golf Club made an early impact. In the 1980s the course underwent major changes, with all 18 greens being reshaped and rebuilt, new tee positions. The course hosted the South African Open in 1987, 1993 and 1997. The signature par-four tenth has been included in Golf Online’s 500 best holes in the world.
Author: Jacqueline Freer