Tee-off Time!

Tee-off Time!

One might say South Africa is quite above par when it comes to legendary golf courses. What makes a great course? It’s a mixture of grounds that are scenic and enjoyable but challenging enough to keep you chipping when you’re in the rough. A good course also has unique or interesting terrain, and if it manages to include a variety of features and types of vegetation, it’s pretty much a hole-in-one.  With the 2012 Players Championship about to kick off in the States, we’ve been discussing the best courses all over South Africa and picked our favourites. Can you guess which course came out tops?

5. Champagne Golf Course, Drakensberg (KwaZulu-Natal)

With the towering cliffs and crags of the Drakensburg Mountain Range echoing your cries of “Fore!” you’ll hardly have time to notice how challenging this course is. Rated as SA’s most beautiful golf course, Champagne is a carpet of lush kikuyu and receptive greens. But just to keep it interesting badly misdirected shots face the challenge of anything from a gentle rough to an array of tricky wetlands and waterholes.

4. Leopard Creek, Malelane (Mpumalanga)

Some courses are set so deep in the city that you may find yourself crossing highways to finish a round if you don’t watch your hook. Bordering the Kruger National Park, the only zebra crossing you’re going to find at Leopard Creek is the horse kind. (Pro tip: when the caddy says ‘water hazard’ here, he means the crocodiles.) One of the most famous courses in South Africa, it was designed by Gary Player and is undoubtedly one of the best to play. We love Leopard Creek for its total immersion in nature.

3. Arabella Golf Club, Kleinmond (Western Cape)

One of the Cape’s top ranked golf courses, Arabella has consistently been ranked with the top 10 courses in the country. Some of the best have played this course and loved it, including Nicklaus, Els, Goosen and Gary Player. The challenging water obstacles and bunkers are met by the pristine beauty of the Bot River Lagoon and edged with indigenous flora. Arabella’s five-star facilities round off the experience perfectly.

2. Sishen Golf and Country Club, Kathu (Northern Cape)

“Lush” is not the first description that springs to mind when you think of the Northern Cape. And the last place you’d expect to find the rolling greens of a golf course is in a 500 hectare Kameeldoring  forest on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. Best for a retreat, Shishen is well off the beaten track. This means the course is never congested and players can enjoy the par 72 at a relaxed pace and surrounded by total tranquility.

1. St Francis Links, St Francis Bay (Eastern Cape)

Like the traditional links on which the game originated, St Francis is a natural course between the beach and arable land. The course is set along the stretch of unrivaled wilderness we know as the Garden Route. But with misty dunes and gently undulating ocean on the horizon, you may mistake the scenery of this Nicklaus-designed course for Scotland herself. You may even begin cursing your swing in an accent. With minimalistic landscaping, St Francis lets nature shape its course and the results are spectacular. Nature also presents the greatest challenges here, with a changing landscape and temperate climate ensuring that you’ll never play the same game twice.

What’s your favourite spot for golfing? Tell us below!