South Africa : Wild About Golf

Oubaai Golf Club, South Africa
Oubaai Golf Club, South Africa

Look no further than South Africa for the planet’s most exotic golf and travel destination.

This is where the world class fruits sown by one Big 5 – local heroes Locke, Player, Frost, Els, and Goosen flourish alongside the beauty of another –lion, buffalo, rhino, elephant and leopard. Here you’ll find a startling variety of eco-systems and landscapes all to be enjoyed in the graceful comfort of hospitality professionals admired the world over for their luxurious standards of service.

A visit of 10-14 days is recommended for those who prefer a thorough yet leisurely paced custom schedule. The place to begin is Cape Town whose dramatic setting on Cape Peninsula in the shadow of towering Table Mountain promises to leave a lifelong impression. The Cape Grace Hotel, Ellerman House and the Victoria and Alfred are just three of the numerous excellent choices for your base of operation over the next four days. Abundant golf is nearby including Pearl Valley by Nicklaus in the famous Franschhoek Wine region where a wine tour and tasting it the ideal compliment to a morning round. Cliff top whale watching is on order after 18 at Arabella.

Your next four days will pass too fast at the sensational Fancourt Hotel, located in the heart of The Garden Route which winds along the warm Indian Ocean and is renowned throughout the world for its immense natural beauty. From majestic mountains and white beaches to the Tsitsikamma Forest, the area is home to a kaleidoscope of flora, fauna and a multitude of rare bird species. Guests at Fancourt may choose between a room in the beautifully restored 19th Century Manor House or one of the stately Garden Suites and Studios. The spa is one of South Africa’s premier wellness facilities. The property’s three courses are accessible to members and hotel guests only, and each is ranked among the country’s top 12. Perhaps most impressive is The Links, a Gary Player design inspired by his love of the British game, and host venue of the 2003 Presidents Cup. Ernie Els home and golf course is nearby in Oubaai, a course perched on cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean. Goosen, Norman, Player, Clarke and Nicklaus all have courses along this striking coastline.

Fun and games now turns to fun and big game as your journey continues northeast to Lion Sands Private Game Reserve near the Kruger National Park. There are a dozen or so true luxury safari lodges in South Africa, each with unique charm and merit, but few can match the amenities and location of Ivory Lodge. Located deep in the African bush, this property has redefined the luxury wilderness experience. With only six suites, privacy and exclusivity are granted in this paradise where getting up close to the Big 5 is a daily occurrence. Suites feature magnificent bathrooms and bedrooms. Vast sundecks overlooking the Sabi River with private plunge pools offer front row views of the wilderness and all manner of wildlife. African cuisine complimented by one of the finest wine lists in the country complete this “all inclusive” sensory experience. Bigger groups may wish to consider 1933, the manor house which provides a private chef and ranger to groups of up to 4 couples.

Naturally there is one more round to play before returning to the real world. And remarkably enough, in this remote region of the country, you will find its #1 ranked layout — Leopard Creek. Situated on the southern border of the Kruger National Park, Leopard Creek presents the rare opportunity to play a golf course in the bush of Africa. The enormous property, nearly 900 acres, is bordered to the north and the west by the Crocodile River and the Kruger National Park. Rocky bushveld hills overlook the course from the east, providing an ideal backdrop for this Gary Player masterpiece.

All told, the experience in South Africa is about diversity: the old world, and new; the landscapes; the wildlife; the many flavors of hospitality and, of course, great golf.


About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. You can find him on Google+