One of the world’s most vibrant cities, Cape Town is often known as South Africa’s Crown Jewel, a distinction it unquestionably deserves.
Blessed with perfect weather, beautiful beaches, lush vineyards and a population that seemingly never stops smiling, it’s easy to see why so many people flock here from around the world. While most golfers who visit South Africa have some of the country’s better known courses, such as Leopard Creek or Fancourt Links, on their minds when they draw up their itineraries, it would be a crime not to play a round or two on one of the Cape Town area’s outstanding layouts. Here’s my guide to enjoying the best that this eclectic seaside metropolis has to offer:
Where to play golf in Cape Town, South Africa
There’s no better place to start than with Royal Cape Golf Club, South Africa’s oldest. The current course was laid out by seminal South African architect Dr. Charles Murray in 1929 and has gone on to host the South African Open 10 times, boasting winners such as Gary Player and Ernie Els. The course is a classic parkland design, with wayward shots severely punished by adjacent water hazards and overhanging trees, but it’s the club’s heritage and character that really make it worth the trip.
Located just over an hour southeast of Cape Town on the Bot River Lagoon and situated within the Kogelberg Mountain Range, the world-class golf course at Arabella perennially ranked as one of the country’s best and practically doubles as a wildlife preserve. Measuring under 7,000 yards, it is an enjoyable test for all skill levels. The par-5 eighth is certainly the most memorable hole, as it plays down to a green that seems to jut out into the beautiful lagoon.
Just east of Cape Town along the wine route, the difficult Jack Nicklaus signature design course at Pearl Valley hosted the South Africa Open from 2007-2009. The course is surrounded by vineyards and mountain peaks, and the gorgeous backdrop combined with the striking contrast between the white sand bunkers and lush fairways helps make Pearl Valley one of the most visually appealing courses in South Africa.
Located 40 minutes east of Cape Town, in the heart of the South African winelands, De Zalze is a parkland layout that is among the area’s very best. Opened for play in 2001, the course is part of a lush property which includes three working wine farms. The Blaauwklippen River meanders throughout the course, providing an element of peril for errant shots on many a hole. The course was host to the 2006 World Amateur Championships, a testament to its greatness.
Host to the 1996 World Cup of Golf, Erinvale is one of South Africa’s most significant courses, as it paved the way for many other luxury “estate” courses that opened in the last two decades. Located among numerous wineries on the slopes of Helderberg Mountain in Cape Town’s southeastern suburbs, the Gary Player design at Erinvale has two very distinct nines. The front is relatively flat and meanders through several small streams, but the back nine is where the course truly shines. The back takes on some significant elevation change, and the par-5 13th is the signature hole, with views across Cape Town and the surrounding bay.
Ravi Coutinho is a contributor at Golf News Net and the founder of Worldwide Golf Adventures, a golf travel company based in Austin, TX that offers dream vacations to the world's top golf destinations.
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