Golfing in Cape Town
Think golf and South Africa and your first thoughts will probably be of one of the country’s many well known championship courses: places like the Gary Player Golf Course at Sun City, or Garden Route landmarks such as Fancourt or Pezula. But Cape Town itself has several highly-rated courses – including the country’s oldest – for golfers looking to test their skills without leaving the Mother City’s 02 dial code.
Royal Cape Golf Club in Wynberg was founded in 1885 by Lieutenant-General Sir Henry D’Oyley Torrens, who convened a meeting within 11 days of arriving in the Fairest Cape “for the purpose of introducing the game of golf… in South Africa.” Since then, Royal Cape’s notorious par-4 14th has seen many golfers become better acquainted with their darker emotions.
There are several other courses across the city but few are more scenic than the Metropolitan Golf Course, a stone’s throw from the V&A Waterfront at Mouille Point and, sitting in the shadow of Green Point Stadium, with spectacular views of Signal Hill and Table Mountain.
In the Northern Suburbs there is Bellville Golf Course, Durbanville Golf Course, Parow’s King David Golf Course and Milnerton Golf Course. In the south of the Peninsula you’ll find Mowbray Golf Course, Rondebosch Golf Course, Steenberg Golf Course in the lovely Constantia Valley, Westlake Golf Course, Clovelly Golf Course and Country Club, and the well kept secret of Simon’s Town Golf Course’s nine windswept holes.
Move into the equally scenic Cape Winelands and you’ll find the 27-hole Paarl Golf Course (co-designed by Tour veteran and local resident David Frost) and nearby Pearl Valley Golf Course (designed by multiple Major winner Jack Nicklaus, with 81 ball-swallowing bunkers).
Erinvale Golf Course in Somerset West is part of the growing number of lifestyle estates, and features a Gary Player-designed course within a pitching wedge distance of its hotel and spa. Similar estates (although they’re each different in their own way) are found at Melkbosstrand’s Atlantic Beach Golf Estate, Steenberg in the Constantia Valley, Milnerton’s Sunset Links Residential Estate, Paarl’s Pearl Valley, and Stellenbosch’s Devonvale Golf and Wines Estate.
Stellenbosch is also home to Stellenbosch Golf Course and De Zalze Golf Course, while Strand hosts Greenways and the Strand Golf Course. Hermanus, the coastal town well known for its whale watching, is around the corner at Walker Bay and has its own scenic Hermanus Golf Course.
Between Hermanus and Strand you’ll find the Arabella Golf Course near Kleinmond, which for the past decade has hosted the Nelson Mandela Invitational pro-am charity event, featuring pros like Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Lee Westwood alongside amateurs like Samuel L. Jackson.
So which Cape Town golf courses are the best? According to the local Golf Digest (which ranked Fancourt number 1 for 2010/11), Pearl Valley (3) and Arabella (5) are among South Africa’s Top 10, while De Zalze (29), Steenberg (34), Royal Cape (41) and Hermanus (43) feature in the nationwide Top 50.
But between the green parklands of King David Golf Course, the invisible flag of Atlantic Beach’s par-5 4th, the dog-leg par-5 of Clovelly’s 10th, and the tear-your-hair-out frustration or joy of Durbanville’s over-the-lake par-3 12th, there’s much varied golf to be played in Cape Town.