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Top 10 Golf Courses, now 11, in rest of South Africa

Here we focus on the top golf courses outside of the Western Cape – ie in the Kruger, Kwa Zulu Natal and Johannesburg. Though some of our Cape Town courses are the most popular for our golfing guests, they are not necessarily the highest ranked in the country! It used to be the top 10, but with some new arrivals, we couldnt quite bring ourselves to say goodbye to some popular favourites.

We have used the recent Golf Digest SA rankings for your interest. However our list differs slightly from Golf Digest in that many of top-rated golf courses, though immaculate, are not readily available to the overseas golfer. This is because of their location in the upmarket suburbs of Johannesburg and other cities, or their club membership. So 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 in the top 3 in South Africa, Leopard Creek is situated on the border of the world-famous Kruger National Park. It has just re-opened after an extensive revamp which repositioned fairway bunkers and also redesigned the 12th hole. They have also worked with indigenous plants to encourage wildlife and support the local ecology.

Gary Player’s design takes advantage of the natural environment, which is home to Africa’s “Big Five” – lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo – and over 200 species of birds that make their homes in the surrounding trees, some of which are over 100 years old. Players are protected from the wildlife by means of innovative architectural and landscaping techniques – although water hazards might include the odd hippopotamus or crocodile!

Situated on the southern border of the Kruger National Park, the exclusive Leopard Creek presents a rare opportunity to play golf in the heart of the bushveld. 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 in 1995 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.

Kruger Border Parkland 6 665m Golf Carts  SA Golf Digest/Top 100 2020 Number 2

Top golf courses in South Africa - Leopard Creek

3) St Francis Golf Course, St Francis

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.

St Francis Links 6 390m Walking course SA Golf Digest/Top 100 2020 Number 5

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4) Royal Johannesburg & Kensington East

This is the top Johannesburg course (see later for some of the other highly rated options). It has risen in the Top 100 charts after the extensive revamp. Robbie Marshall worked with the Royal staff installing new bunkers, pruning trees and also the overall presentation.

This traditional parkland course offers stunning vistas where mature trees abound. The club exudes class both on and off the course. The clubhouse is still a proper clubhouse and not a boutique hotel. The West course is also highly rated at No 29.

Johannesburg Parklands 6 940m Carts available SA Golf Digest/Top 100 2020 No 6

5) Gary Player Country Club, Golf at 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

Sun City, near Pilanesberg Parkland  6 550m Golf Cart SA Golf Digest/Top 100 2020 Number 7

6) 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.

Port Elizabeth Links 6 390m Walking course SA Golf Digest/Top 100 2020 Number 9

Top golf courses in South Africa - Humewood in Port Elixzabeth

7) 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 is enjoyed, but rarely mastered. To score well you have to play well.

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 breath-taking. With virtually every tropical plant imaginable creating a colourful, scented backdrop to your round.

Durban Parkland  6157m Carts available SA Golf Digest/Top 100 2020 Number 12

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8) 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 can stay at the Zimbali Resort or other nearby boutique guest houses.

Natal North Coast Parkland  6 524m Carts available SA Golf Digest/Top 100 2020 No 25

9) 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)

South Natal Coast Parkland  5807 m Carts available SA Golf Digest/Top 100 2020 Number 25

10) Champagne Sports Golf Resort

Located in the beautiful Drakensberg area, this course has to be rated as one of the most scenically memorable golf layouts in South Africa. Designed by Hugh Baiocchi and Kevin Curren, it successfully blends the natural attributes of the terrain and the surrounding beauty with the modern demands of a quality course. It undulates up and around the contours of a valley that nestles under the dominant peaks of Champagne and Cathkin Peaks and incorporates several holes with blind tee shots. Professional and novice alike will appreciate the 84 well-appointed bunkers that line the fairways and greens. The quality of the greens is accredited to Trevor Livesey whose passion remains unabated. Though the drama of the mighty mountains dominates the eye, the course also enjoys gentle vistas where the lower hills create a kaleidoscope of colour blessed with trees, rivers and dams to add even more of a challenge.

Drakensberg Mountains Parkland  6 694m Carts available SA Golf Digest/Top 100 2020 No 29

Drakensberg mountains golf

11) 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.

Sun City, Pilanesberg Parkland/Links  6 983m Golf Carts  SA Golf Digest/Top 100 2020 No 50

Download our Guide on Top 25 Golf Courses in South Africa

Find the best-designed & most interesting golf courses to play… Start dusting off your golf clubs
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Kate Bergh

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Reopening again soon – The Legend Golf Course

Note this golf course and resort is currently closed. So it has no 2020 ranking. 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 (currently closed for renovations) or at one of the nearby game lodges in Entabeni such as Entabeni Hanglip Mountain Lodge.

Entabeni Conservancy Parkland 7 787m  Carts available

Golf Courses in Johannesburg

Many of South Africa’s top courses are in Johannesburg where you may find yourself for a night in your itinerary. If you are a keen golfer, it’s worth extending this to two nights so that you can play on one of the following top-rated courses.

Glendower Golf Club – Number 4
Blair Atholl – Number 15
Randpark Firethorn – Number 21
Johannesburg Country Club – Woodmead – Number 24
Kyalami Golf Course – Number 23
Royal Johannesburg and Kensington West – Number 31

Other Notable Mentions:

East London golf course – Number 11
Highland Gate Golf Course, Dullstroom – Number 16
Elements Private Golf Course, Bela Bela – Number 17
Pecanwood Golf Course, Hartbeespoort Dam – Number 30
Cotswold Downs, near Durban – Number 47
Princes Grant Golf Club, KwaZulu Natal – Number 45

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About the Authors Cedarberg Africa

Cedarberg Africa is a Africa safari specialist focusing on Southern Africa. We put together tailor-made itineraries which are designed around YOUR interests, whether it is a stand-alone golfing trip, combining golf with safari. Or adding some golf into a highlights tour of South Africa. We have been in business for nearly 25 years so we know what we’re doing! Contact us if you’d like a tailormade golf and safari quote.

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