Excellent golf courses for everyone to enjoy
With a number of world-class courses set in gorgeous surroundings and commanding panoramic views, the Garden Route is a golfer's paradise. There are challenging and rewarding courses for golf enthusiasts of all levels, so everyone can take to the green, and if you want to brush up on your skills, there are lessons available.
Strolling amongst the rolling hills of these magnificent courses, wedged between forested mountains and the dramatic Atlantic coast, you’ll be in seventh heaven with eighteen holes and a nine iron. It’s a golfing experience that you’ll never forget - a truly beautiful place to get a birdie or two!
Here’s a rundown of the best greens along the Garden Route. Every one of them is a winner that will add an ace to your South Africa holiday.
Follow in the footsteps of Gary Player and Ernie Els by hitting the green at the The Fancourt Estate. The 3 Gary Player designed championship courses here are all ranked in the Top 20 golf courses in South Africa. It’s also home to the Western Cape’s premier 18 hole public course. Each course has been exquisitely devised to compliment the breathtaking landscape and work with the coastal winds.
The Links course (Par 72 - 6,154m), now ranked as the number one golf course in SA by Golf Digest South Africa and #38 in the world by the USA Golf Digest, is close to Gary Player’s heart. He considers it to be his crowning achievement in golf design - and for good reason. Once an airfield, the course was inspired by the classic links courses of Scotland and Ireland and the result is simply stunning. It works in perfect harmony with the windswept terrain of the coastline and it’s possibly the most difficult course in the country - so if you’re up for a challenge during your South Africa trip, you’ve come to the right course.
The modern Montague Golf Course (Par 72 - 5,981m) is a beautiful course set within rich, green parkland. It constantly wins accolades for its impeccable condition and was formerly ranked as the number one course in South Africa. It’s a wonderful place to soak up the scenery during a round on the green, with rainbow-coloured flower beds, gentle slopes, mirror-like water hazards and leafy trees.
The Outeniqua Golf Course (Par 72 - 5,996m) is named after the ridge of mountains running along the Garden Route has a very different feel to Montague and Links. Set amidst colourful gardens with small rivulets and streams, it’s a water-heavy course, with water hazards popping up on 11 of the 18 holes. It’s considered to be the easiest of the Fancourt courses, so it’s a great option to ease yourself into some golf on your South Africa holiday.
Bramble Hill (Par 72 - 5,699m) is the 4th course on the Fancourt estate and is a public parkland course with links features and generous fairways, so it’s another excellent option.
It can be tricky to keep your eye on the ball at Simola, simply because the course is so stunning.
Sheltered beneath the high ridges of the Outeniqua Mountains with views stretching out over across Knysna Lagoon, Simola is not only breathtaking but free from the coastal winds that can hamper success on the holes. Its flowing fairways and sweeping greens are second to none.
As well as being one of the most beautiful courses in the world, it carries the accolade of being the first Jack Nicklaus Signature course on the Garden Route, so it really does have everything going for it. The championship course has been created to 'challenge the professional and inspire the amateur’, so it has something for everyone. This makes it perfect putting for a South Africa holiday.
Pezula Golf Estate is just 10 minutes from Knysna, arguably the Garden Route’s liveliest and most picturesque little hub. The championship course itself is a magnificent medley of rolling hills, flowerbeds and water hazards built around the natural landscape of the area. With views of the Knysna Heads and the distant blue Outeniqua mountains, it’s an exquisite spot to sink an eagle on a sunny afternoon.
The terrain undulates between fairway, fynbos and eyebrow bunkers, making it both a challenging and rewarding golf experience.
Knysna Golf Course
The Knysna Golf Course nestles on the shores of the peaceful Knysna Lagoon with views to die for and fairways to match. Sitting so close to the coast, it’s no surprise that the ocean comes into play on the course, which is full of meandering tidal pools that twist through the trees. In fact, sea water comes into play on no less than half of the holes here, so there’s no chance of forgetting that you’re beside the seaside!
Mature, interesting parkland covers most of the course, which emphasises accuracy rather than length. The level ground might look like easy play, but don’t be fooled - it’s deceptively tricky terrain. It’s also wonderful scenery to stroll through and not quite so tiring as some of the more testing courses on the Garden Route.
Goose Valley Golf Course
Just 4 km from the bright lights and chic bars of Plettenberg Bay, the 72 par Gary Player-designed Goose Valley Golf Course is another great choice during your South Africa holiday. Bordering on the Keurboom Lagoon, the course boasts unparalleled panoramic views from the lagoon to the Tsitsikamma Mountains, the Indian Ocean and the famous Robberg Reserve. You might even see whales breaching in the waves as you play a hole!
An irresistible mix of fynbos, flowers and fairway, the course is rich with animal and bird life, enhancing the whole experience. The 18 holes play short but require pin-point accuracy, as the brutal pot bunkers here have swallowed many a wayward shot. There’s also an excellent state-of-the-art driving range to help you hone your skills.
Plettenberg Bay Country Club
The Plettenberg Bay Country is a completely unique 18 hole golf course set within a private nature reserve - so it’s two experiences all rolled into one! It’s a highly rated course that is, understandably, very popular with tourists, so you need to book early if you want to play a round here on your South Africa holiday. The Club is open every day and visitors are warmly welcomed, although Saturday and Wednesday afternoons are reserved for members only.
The course itself is a beautiful patchwork of parkland and lush Kikuyu grass fairway, scattered with rivers, bridges, bayview greens and even bunkers within bunkers! As the natural landscape has been carefully preserved, the course attracts all kinds of animal and bird life, from monkeys to bush pigs and antelope. The Knysna Loerie, a bird unique to the region, is often sighted around Hole 7, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!
George Golf Course
Last but certainly not least, George Golf Club is a 72 par, 18 hole golf club at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains. One of the oldest clubs in the country, it is steeped in history and tradition, making it a hugely memorable place to play a round. It has also been voted as one of the Top 10 South African golf courses for the last ten years, so it’s highly prestigious putting territory.
Visitors are welcome every day, with the exception of Wednesday and Saturday afternoons which are set aside for members only. The course itself has bent greens and Hole 7 offers distractingly beautiful mountain views, which can be disastrous for concentration levels!
However, its signature hole is 17, the last of the par 3s. It is fairly long, at up to 181 metres, and it places a premium on accuracy, thus it is rated the second-most difficult hole on the inward 9, and the 4th most difficult overall. Hole 17 is also rated one of the 500 best holes in the world, as well as the best par 3 in South Africa. Now that’s a challenge!