South Africa's oldest club dates to the 1880s and has been located on its current site south of Cape Town since the 1920s. At just under 6,800 yards it doesn't play long, but it's narrow, especially on the 423-yard ninth, where the fairway is fifteen yards wide. On the card, the 476-yard par-four third is brutal enough. Play it into a stiff southeasterly wind and par really should be five, maybe six. Members are proud of their own "Amen Corner," which includes the 442-yard dogleg-right fourteenth, the 162-yard fifteenth and the 533-yard sixteenth. Mature trees -- mostly eucalyptus and pine -- come into play on nearly every hole, and if those don't get you the slopes in the greens may. Gary Player won the South African Open here in 1965, Trevor Dodds in 1990 and Ernie Els in 1996.
How To Get a Tee Time: Book well in advance. Paying greens fee ahead of time may be required. Tuesday and Saturday afternoons are for members only.
Contact: Craig Ross, head pro
Location: Twenty minutes south of Cape Town in Wynberg on Ottery Road
Greens Fee: $35
Nearby Courses: Milnerton Golf Club is a true links layout next to the Atlantic about twenty minutes north of central Cape Town. It could be magnificent if a remodeling job included British-style bunkering and new greens (011-27-21-521-047). Rondebosch and Mowbray sit on either side of the N2 expressway about ten minutes from central Cape Town. Both are very busy, relatively flat public courses with tree-lined holes. Rondebosch, at nearly 6,800 yards, is the better of the two. Its best hole, the par-four sixteenth, plays along the Black River. First-timers have to be careful on the first tee because it also has markers for the ninth and fourteenth holes (011-27-21-689-4176). Mowbray, although a little shorter, has the potential to be a first-tier course and is undergoing a program to improve its condition (011-27-21-685-3018). Finally, the closest course to central Cape Town is metropolitan, a nine-hole layout with excellent greens and great views of Table Mountain (011-27-21-434-9582).
The towns of Stellenbosch and Paarl are the central pillars of the Cape's wine region, located about twenty-five miles east of central Cape Town. Both have golf courses with similar flat, narrow layouts dominated by mature pine, eucalyptus and fir trees. stellenbosch golf club is the more scenic and challenging (6,900 yards), with long, narrow par fours at six, eight, eleven and eighteen. With none shorter than 390 yards, accuracy and power are required. The most memorable hole there, however, is the 160-yard par-three number seven, which offers a great view of the vineyards and the surrounding mountains (011-27-21-880-0103). paarl golf club, at 6,600 yards, offers a glimpse of its potential near the Berg River on the par-four seventh: 350 yards, narrow, with outstanding fairway and greenside bunkering (011-27-21-863-1140). de zalze, a Peter Matkovich championship layout through bush and wetlands, opens in April 1999, and mountain course, an eighteen-hole championship layout, is scheduled to open in Stellenbosch at the end of 1999.
If what you really want is just some great golf at a great resort, look no further.
Located four hours east of Cape Town on the N2 highway (a fifty-minute flight), Fancourt is by every measure the best resort in South Africa: two picturesque championship courses set against the Outeniqua Mountains, a health spa, a conference center, a swimming pool, lawn bowling, squash courts and four restaurants. Ernie Els has a farm about an hour away and plays out of Fancourt. The Montagu course opened in 1989 and is the more challenging of the two. Gary Player seemed to have Alister Mackenzie in mind when he designed the large, oval bunkers (which, with their light reddish brown sand, give the lush layout a spicy look). It's a power course that has plenty of room in the landing areas, but good scoring hinges on precise approaches to the well-bunkered greens. The pure bent grass putting surfaces are as smooth as glazed cement and, yes, they can be that fast -- sometimes unfairly so. The toughest holes are the par fours at six and seven, 430 and 480 yards respectively from the back tees. Both play along a dense wooded area and creek that lie on the left side. The approach to the sixth is a little trickier since it must cross the creek as well as negotiate large eucalyptus trees on the right and three greenside bunkers. The seventh's last defense is a severely sloped green that features treacherous downhill putts. The par-three seventeenth is said to be Player's homage to Augusta's twelfth, though the width of the green and the amount of bank between it and the water make them distant cousins at best. The Outeniqua course was completed in March 1997, and though it doesn't have the Montagu's dramatic holes, it's quite a challenge. The 202-yard par-three fourth is worth a dig into the bag for a camera -- the water and flower beds make a great frame for the mountains in the background. Player compensated with good bunkering on the shorter holes and a meandering creek that comes into play on several back-nine holes.
Contact: Wayne Krambeck, director of golf
Location: About ten minutes from the George Airport on Montagu Street in George
Greens Fee: $50 (only lodge guests can play). The hotel has 110 rooms and thirty-five rental units in privately owned houses on the property. Room rates start at $200 a night.
Nearby Courses: Two miles from Fancourt is George golf club, an old-style club built over rolling terrain that has lots of oak, eucalyptus and pine. At 6,710 yards, the par-seventy-two layout has seven par fours on the front, one par three and one par five. The back is a three-three-three configuration with two reachable par fives of about five hundred yards each. Accuracy into the greens is key, and the canted greens can create some slippery putts (011-27-44-873-4254). -- T.J.