Cedarberg’s Top 10 Golf Courses elsewhere
Here we focus on the top Sun City golf courses as well as courses in the Kruger, Kwa Zulu Natal and Johannesburg. We have used the recent Golf Digest SA rankings for your interest.
However our list differs from Golf Digest in that some of those golf courses, though immaculate, are not readily available to the overseas golfer. Either because of their location in a city rather than in an area of natural beauty, or their club membership. Thus our top 10 golf courses for the rest of South Africa focuses on those easily accessible to the golfing visitor. We have put the Golf Digest Rankings at the bottom of each description for your reference.
Check here for our article on the Top 10 Golf Courses in the Cape
1) Leopard Creek Golf Estate, Kruger Park
Consistently rated the best course in South Africa, (and 25th in the world outside the US by Golf Digest USA). Leopard Creek is situated on the border of the world-famous Kruger National Park.
Situated near Malelane on the southern border of the Kruger National Park, Leopard Creek presents a rare opportunity to play golf in the heart of the bushveld. Gary Player’s design takes advantage of the surrounding natural environment, home to Africa’s “big five” and over 200 species of birds.
Planned to be both a challenge for the best golfers and fun for the average player, this 18 hole golf course was meticulously laid out by the owner, Johann Rupert, and Gary Player. The 360ha estate is bordered to the north by the picturesque Crocodile River and the Kruger National Park. Typical bushveld koppies overlook the course from the east, providing an ideal backdrop for this magnificent course. Innovative architectural and landscaping techniques ensure that the golf course is harmonious with the environment. Lakes and streams have been diverted to create scenic vistas and interesting golf strategies.
The par 5 signature hole at Leopard Creek is not particularly long at 475m but the island green presents a tricky shot over water. The 13th hole is equally dramatic, with the green seemingly floating above the Crocodile River which is the border with the Kruger Park. Indeed golfing hazards take on a new dimension at Leopard Creek for much of the water is home to hippos and of course crocodiles. Stay at nearby Bulala Lodge or one of a select groups of hotels & game lodges with memberships. (SA Golf Digest Number 2)
2) Gary Player Country Club, Sun City
The Gary Player Country Club at Sun City is probably South Africa’s most famous golf course and with good reason. The course plays host to the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge. Past winners include Ray Floyd, Steve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam Ernie Els and Nick Price.
It features two holes that have ranked in Golf Online’s list of the 500 best holes in golf: the 9th and 18th holes. Golf Digest USA has ranked the course at number 29 in the world outside the US, and it is consistently ranked one of South Africa’s top five courses.
This course is one of the longest in South Africa at over 7000m and certainly one of the toughest, with the roughs being especially punishing. It places a premium on accurate approaches, with plenty of bunkers and water hazards to test even the best. Stray shots are likely to end up in the bushveld of the Pilanesberg. Not an easy place from which to play a recovery shot.
Although this tree-lined parkland course is fairly flat, the many water hazards, cunning sited bunkers and hidden pin placement make up for the lack of gradient. However it can be enjoyed by both social golfers and professionals alike. The Gary Player golf course is the more difficult of the two courses at Sun City, the other being the Lost City course. Stay at the Palace at the Lost City Hotel (Golf in Sun City – SA Golf Digest Number 3)
3) Wild Coast Sun Country Club
Designed by well-known golf architect, Robert Trent Jones, the Wild Coast golf course is set against the dramatic background of the Indian Ocean, making it beautiful – but punishing for those that stray from the fairways into the rough. When the wind gets up, as it does from time to time, the Wild Coast course can present a very difficult challenge. The course isn’t particularly long, but it presents interesting and challenging changes in elevation, and the roughs are truly rough!
The course may be a testing layout for professionals and amateurs alike but its wide fairways and huge greens, attract golfers of all levels. The club’s signature hole is the par-three 13th, which measures only 146m but is a real tester. While the Wild Coast course has many memorable holes, the 12th is probably one of the most breathtaking golf hole in Africa. This par five is played from an elevated tee down to a fairway which cuts through the valley and then rises again to an elevated green. ( SA Golf Digest Number 11)
4) Durban Country Club
Durban Country Club is a prestigious private club with a very colonial air, evident it its traditions and gabled clubhouse. The golf course boasts a naturally undulating dune layout near the sea, with holes flowing through dense tropical vegetation. The course is scenic, with the Indian Ocean and Durban seafront visible from several tees, but demanding. Extremely challenging to the most skilled golfer, Durban Country Club will be enjoyed, but rarely mastered. To score well you have to play well.
Three of its holes have been included in Golf Online’s top 500 holes – the 2nd, 3rd and 5th holes. For some, the third is the best 3rd hole in the world; for others it is the best par five. Playing from a high tee to a narrow fairway with dense bush and a predatory bunker on the left hand side, it is easy to see why it is the most popular hole on the course. Elsewhere elevated tees and greens are guarded by an array of tropical bushes, tall trees and large bunkers. This, together with the narrow fairways and steep slopes make for a challenging course. The foliage on the course is breathtaking. With virtually every tropical plant imaginable creating a colorful, scented backdrop to your round. (SA Golf Digest Number 10)
5) Humewood Golf Course, Port Elizabeth
One of South Africa’s top-rated golf clubs, Humewood is a true Links course which has hosted numerous PGA events, including the South African Open. However Humewood broke away from the traditional links design of 9 holes out and 9 holes back. Instead, each of the 9 holes returns to the Clubhouse.
The course is surrounded by coastal bush. Although it is close to the centre of Port Elizabeth, Humewood shows little sign of human development . Situated on the sand dunes on the shores of Algoa Bay, the fairways are exposed, undulating and wide to compensate for strong winds. Bunkers are few with steep faces, greens are firm and the rough really is rough with thick coastal bush. (SA Golf Digest Number 15)
6) Lost City Country Club
The Lost City Country Club lies adjacent to the Palace of the Lost City within the Sun City resort. It certainly is a conversation piece and an experience not to be missed. Like an oasis in the arid bushveld, the course offers many surprises. It was designed by South Africa’s grand master of golf, Gary Player
The short but hazardous 13th is played over a crocodile-infested waterhole in the shape of the continent of Africa. Inhabiting the water hazard are 38 crocodiles, some of them nearly two metres long so it’s best to leave your ball if you hit a wayward shot into the water.
The rich green fairways of the course offer a dramatic contrast to the arid bushveld backdrop and the barren waste bunkers – a special feature of this intriguing course. The desert style design of the golf course is quite unique amongst South Africa’s green parkland and links courses.
Baobab trees and cacti are among the aesthetic attractions, and baboons are often seen on the course. The views of the surrounding countryside and the Palace at the Lost City Hotel are breathtaking. (Golf in Sun City – SA Golf Digest Number 22)
7) Zimbali Country Club
The superb Tom Weiskopf course (former South Africa PGA and British Open Champion) descends from Zimbali Lodge down the valley to the Indian Ocean. This course is both challenging and beautiful, offering world-class conditions for top players and higher handicap players alike.
Zimbali has an abundance of natural features which include constant changes in elevation. A combination of mature indigenous trees and vegetation and some beautiful wetland areas with natural steams and ponds. All creating a dramatic and beautiful setting. The course thus combines links, coastal and parkland vegetation and offers one of the most breathtaking and scenic golf experiences in the world.
The Zimbali course has two distinct sides, with some holes in open former sugar cane fields and many others cutting through the indigenous forest and coastal wetlands. It boasts spectacular sea views from the 14th to 18th holes. The par 3 13th hole is probably the most scenic on the course, bordered by natural wetlands. The stylish Country Club and Golf Shop completes the experience plus you have the choice of the Zimbali Lodge or Zimbali Resort to stay. (SA Golf Digest Number 26)
8) The Legend Golf Course
This comparatively new golf course is already the talk of South Africa. The Legend Golf Course is set adjacent to the 22,000 hectare malaria-free Entabeni Safari Conservancy in the Waterberg. The reserve features five eco-systems, spectacular scenery and an amazing diversity of wildlife, including the Big Five.
What makes the Legend Golf Course so unique is that each of the 18 holes has been designed by a world golfing legend. The list of signatures who have designed a hole reads like a who’s who of world golf…Trevor Immelman, former US Masters Champion; Padraig Harrington, two-time Open Champion and US PGA champion; Bernard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Justin Rose, Vijay Singh, Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen to name but a few. Amazingly the course succeeds in incorporating these various disparate design thoughts into a single cohesive vision. (SA Golf Digest Number 41)
The 19th Hole
In addition to the 18 holes, you can also take the challenge the unique Par 3, the Extreme 19th. Set high up on the impressive Hanglip Mountain, the hole is accessible only by helicopter and played to a green the shape of Africa some 400m below.
Few holes in the history of golf have generated as much interest as the The Extreme 19th. Golfing superstars as well as celebrities from across the world of sport and entertainment have been equally as impressed. You can choose to stay at either the Legend Safari Resort itself or at one of the nearby game lodges in Entabeni such as Entabeni Hanglip Mountain Lodge.
9) Mount Edgecome Country Club
Mount Edgecombe has a beautiful setting in the sugar cane country on KwaZulu Natal’s Dolphin Coast. Here you have a choice of two championship courses – Mount Edgecombe 1 and Mount Edgecombe 2. Mount Edgecombe One has a parkland layout with many exotic trees. It begins with four short holes, then builds in difficulty right to the finish with some imposing water hazards.
Mount Edgecombe Two is the newer course. This is a very undulating course, very different in feel, with lots of indigenous bush. Mount Edgecombe Two Club House overlooks the Pani Dam where, if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the resident fish eagles. (SA Golf Digest Number 67)
10) Hans Merensky Golf Course
The Hans Merensky Golf Estate is situated in Phalaborwa, the gateway to the Kruger National Park. Here crocodile and hippo add spice to the normal hazards of a good game of golf. The legendary Bob Grimsdell designed this unique course, which extends over a vast area of indigenous bush, interspersed with tranquil pools and velvet greens. The Golf Clubhouse is raised to overlook the 9th and 18th Holes offers a view unsurpassed. Sitting on the patio having a chilled refreshment is the perfect way to relax after an exciting day on the golf course.
This 18- hole, par-72 golf course has hippos in the water hazards and rolling fairways with spectacular views of the African bushveld. There is not a single weak hole so it’s difficult to single out specific holes on so fine a course, but the four par 5’s are all excellent, particularly the 16’th, where a pulled or hooked drive could well land in the park. (A Golf Digest Number 77).
Other Notable Options:
Elements Private Golf Course, Limpopo 1½ hours north of Pretoria – Number 19
Fish River Sun Golf Course, Eastern Cape – Number 32
Champagne Sports, KwaZulu Natal – Number 35
Princes Grant Golf Club, KwaZulu Natal – Number 37
Selborne Country Club, Southern KwaZulu Natal – Number 76