Attracted by its year-round sunny climate, glorious scenery, low costs and hospitable clubhouses, more and more British golfers are discovering the delights of playing their favourite game in South Africa. With its 400 golf courses, many of championship standard, the country is fast becoming the latest `in` destination for British golfers seeking `new` places to play.
Golf in South Africa, however, is far from a recent development. The first course was laid out in Wynberg in 1882. Founded by British enthusiasts it later became the Royal Cape Golf Club and staged its first competition in 1886. From this `tee-off` in the Cape the game spread throughout the country, with the Royal Johannesburg course being opened in 1890.
One of the features of golf courses in South Africa are the superb settings. Ancient trees add to the sense of history at the Royal Cape and Royal Johannnesburg, Table Mountain is the backdrop for the Milnerton while vistas of sea and surf are one of the features of the Wild Coast golf links.
There are courses in the bushveld like Sabi, Hans Merensky and Malelane where the wildlife - warthog, antelope and monkeys - may invade the fairways. Bring your camera as well as your clubs - the folks back home might not believe you.
Don`t be put off by the critical eyes of the monkeys at the Gary Player Country Club at the Sun City resort - the course itself is demanding enough. Every year it hosts international stars at the "Million Dollar" tournament.
South Africa as a whole is popular with golfing giants such as Bobby Lock, Herold Henning, Ernie Els - and of course Gary Player himself.
Whether or not you bump into them is a matter of luck. One thing you can be sure of though is the warmth of the welcome you`ll receive from club members - especially if you observe the local rules of etiquette. You should wear knee-high socks with shorts or Bermudas - and be prepared to take a break in the clubhouse at the end of nine-holes before continuing with the game.
It`s also a good idea to hire a caddy. Their services are very reasonable - fees are normally R60 for nine holes, R100 for 18 - while their extensive knowledge of the course will help you have a better game. With green fees as low as R50 (for nine holes) or R100 (for 18), and with drinks at the `19th hole` much cheaper than in the UK, you can afford to splash out.
Most clubs offer international visitors temporary membership, giving them the opportunity to play with local golfers. It is advisable to book starting times in advance, particularly at weekend and on public holidays.
Normally a great session of golf is rounded off by a `braavleis` (barbecue), providing the chance of discussing the finer points of the day`s round over a juicy steak and ice cold beer - while the ochre coloured sun sinks over the sea, the bush or the mountains.
South African Golf Courses � A pertrait of the best. (Struik Publishers, ISBN 1 868 25 3384)
GAUTENG, MPUMALANGA, NORTHERN PROVINCE
1. Royal Johannesburg Golf Club
(2 X 18 holes, east and west)
This "royal" Club is located in a highly appropriate area for a golf course. It offers two 18-hole ranges, the East- and West-Course.East Course: 6 660 m long, standard and par 72. West Course: 6 351 m long, standard and par 71. The elegant club house with its recreational facilities is incredible. Green fees: about R150.
2. Wanderers Golf Club - (18 holes)
The club developed out of the renowned sports club of Illovo and has one of the highest memberships. The 18-hole course has a length of 6 274m , standard 70 and par 72. The modern club house is very comfortable. Green fees: about R95.
3. Houghton Golf Club - (18 holes)
Situated in Johannesburg�s most distinguished suburb, this club offers an 18-hole masters course at a length of 6 506m, standard and par 72.
4. Bryanston Country Club - (18 holes)
The 6 576m long 18-hole-range, with a standard of 73 and the same par, is part of an exclusive country club. This wonderful championship course, designed by Charles Alison, has unique trees and many water obstacles. Green fees: about R130.
5. Dainfern Golf Club - (18 holes)
This 6 580m long course which is a real challenge even to the most experienced golfer, was designed by Gary Player. This stimulating golf course lies in attractive landscape through which the Jukskei River flows.The course is standard and par 72. Green fees: about R110.
6. Crown Mines Golf Club - (18 holes)
The 18-hole-course lies close to "Gold Reef City", an historic entertainment complex which recreates South African Gold Rush. Accommodation is in the form of hotels built in the colonial style of the historic gold rush era.Green fees: about R110.
7. Roodepoort Country Club - (18 holes)
This hilly 18-hole course was designed by Ron Kilby and Gary Player. The "Greens" are regarded as some of the best in South Africa. There are no trees on the course, however, the "roughs" are extremely pernicious; additionally, 70 bunkers are scattered out on the course. Green fees: about R75,--.
8. Zwartkop Country Club - (18 holes)
An 18-hole-championship range with standard 71 and par 72 at a length of 6 532.A stream flows through this relatively flat area, which has to be crossed several times. Green fees: about R90..
9. Glendower Golf Club - (18 holes)
This well designed 18-hole-course (6 455m), in the suburb of Bedford View, is situated on a slope with a great many trees. The fairways are excellent, with many obstacles and quite narrow greens. Standard and par 72. Green fees: about R100.
10. Pretoria Golf Club - (18 holes)
The 72 par and 18-hole-course is 6 425m long and very demanding. It is well maintained, with lush vegetation, and many obstacles and is only a few minutes away from the city. Green fees: about R50.
11. Hans Merensky Country Club - (18 holes)
The Country Club is situated on one of Phalaborwa�s hills, on the border of the Kruger National Park. You literally play in the "African Bush". Length 6 074m, par 72. Green fees: about R85.
12. Sabi River Golf Club - (18 holes / Golf hotel)
This course has only recently been enlarged. It lies in splendid countryside, not far from the Kruger National Park. Green fees: about R35.
13. White River Country Club - (18 holes / Golf hotel)
A great course, recently increased to an 18-hole-range. Close to the Kruger National Park and the Pinelake Inn Hotel. Length. 6 251m, par 72. Green fees R50.
14. Malelane Golf Club - (9 holes)
In close proximity to the Malelane Gate of the Kruger National Park and the Malelane Lodge. Wonderful countryside. Green fees: R50.
15. Royal Swazi Golf Club - (18 holes / Golf hotel)
One of the oldest and most beautiful golf courses in Africa. This course is a great challenge for all golf players. A huge amount of endurance and skill is required for this course. Length 6 134m, par 72. Green fees: about R85.
16. Umhlali Country Club - (18 holes)
This 18-hole-champion-league course was designed by Peter Matkovich. It is one of the best golf-courses on the east coast of Southern Africa. The course is 6 063m long. The club-house is situated in the middle of the course. Green fees: about R75.
17. Huletts Country Club - (18 holes)
Situated in the sugar cane plantations of KwaZulu-Natal, this is 5 960m long, par 73, golf course. Green fees: about R100.
18. Durban Country Club - (18 holes)
This 6 012m long 18-hole-course, with standard and par 72, belongs to a club, which has become known for its excellent restaurant and sports facilities. Its third hole is very peculiar, but it is regarded as one of the best 18 holes in the world. Green fees: about R150.
19. Maritzburg Golf Club - (18 holes)
This course, surrounded by Pepper trees, is situated in Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu-Natal. The park-like course has 18 holes and standard 68. Green fees: about R55.
20. Scottburgh Golf Club
Situated right on the coast. Length: 5 409m. par 69. Green fees about R46.
21. Selborne Country Club - (18 holes / Golf hotel)
An extra-ordinary and beautiful golf-course.Bordered on one side by sugar cane plantations,and the Indian Ocean on the other. Directly located on the course and belonging to the club, is the "Country Hotel". Length 5 443m, par 72. Green fees: about R100.
22. Port Shepstone Country Club - (18 holes)
This 18-hole-course, 130 km south of Durban, is made for recreational purposes. Nine holes lie directly on the river-bank, the other 9 on slightly higher ground.
Length: 5 827m, standard and par 71. South Coast holiday guests are always welcome. Green fees: about R60.
23. Margate Country Club - (18 holes)
This 18-hole-course was upgraded in 1991. The 5 556m long course is situated in wonderful countryside with lush vegetation (thickly forested). There are 6 water obstacles and 68 bunkers. Every Thursday and Saturday golf matches take place. Green fees: about R60.
24. Southbroom Golf Club - (18 holes)
A 5 238m long 18-hole-course in fantastic coastal landscape, 145 km south of Durban. Standard 68, par 71. Beautiful, modern club house. Green fees: about R80.
25. San Lameer Country Club - (18 holes)
The 18-hole-course is 6 100m long, and was designed by Peter Matkovich and Dale Hayes. It offers a great challenge as well as a lot of pleasure.
26. Wild Coast Country Club - (18 holes / Golf hotel)
A very natural environment, offering a great challenge, even to an experienced player. Various holes are situated on the coastal plateau, with a splendid view of the ocean. The course is regarded as one of the most attractive in South Africa. Green fees: about R90.
27. East London Golf Club - (18 holes)
Very demanding 18-hole-championship course with a fantastic view of the coast, ancient trees and interesting holes. Length: 5 971m, standard / par 72. Green fees: about R60.
28. Alexander Golf Club - (18 holes)
Surrounded by marvellous countryside with a wonderful view of the ocean. The total length is 5 625m, standard 69 and par 71. Green fees: about R25.
29. Fish River Sun Country Club - (18 holes / Golf hotel)
This extremely beautiful 18-hole-course was designed by Gary Player and is situated in Port Alfred, near the Fish River Mouth. It belongs to the Fish River Sun Hotel. Green fees: about R60.
30. Royal Port Alfred Golf Club - (18 holes)
Previously used to hold championship matches, today the popular course for tourists because of its magnificent location. Non-members are welcome. Green fees: about R50.
31. Wedgewood Park Country Club - (18 holes)
One of the city�s best-known. The course has, on a length of 5 944m, a row of interesting holes with crooked fairways, which challenges the experience of the players. Green fees: about R50.
32. Humewood Golf Club - (18 holes)
The total length of this 18-hole-course is 6 202m with standard 73.
Similar to the English beach golf courses, designed in the same style as the English Golf Centre, Sandwich. The Club house is situated high up on the dunes. Green fees: about R100.
33. Plettenberg Bay Country Club - (18 holes)
Situated in magnificent landscape with great character: length 5 611m standard 69 and par 74. Green fees: about R95.
34. Knysna Golf Club - (18 holes)
This 18-hole course is wonderfully situated offering splendid views of the Lagoon and Knysna Mountains. The course is relatively short, but not easy to play. The fairways are very narrow, with limited space.
35. Fancourt Country Club - (27 holes / Golf hotel)
This is one of Gary Player�s design courses, a 27-hole championship course. Situated in wonderful landscape and well maintained. Fancourt is proud of its huge and hilly "Greens". Green fees: R 250.
Important: for hotel guests only.
36. George Golf Club - (18 holes)
Located on the Garden Route, only a few kilometres away from the coast. A course with a very high standard. The club house is built on a small hill, from where you have a view of the 1st and 18th holes. Length: 6 116m, par 72. Green fees: about R100.
37. Mossel Bay Golf Club - (18 holes)
An 18-hole-course for championship matches. Located on the coast with sea-view. Length: 5 873m, standard 70, par 73. Visitors are welcome. Green fees: about R50.
38. Hermanus Golf Club - (18 holes)
This course on the Cape coast is very popular amongst the British. It is well situated and some holes have a sea-view. Length: 5 798m, standard 71, par 73. Green fees: about R65.
39. Strand Golf Club - (18 holes)
A holiday resort at False Bay with an 18-hole coastal golf-course.Ideally suited for a golf excursion from Cape Town as it is only 48km away. Standard 70, par 72. Green fees: about R100.
40. Clovelly Country Club - (18 holes)
This beautiful 18-hole-course lies in the heart of a valley. The course is relatively flat with well-maintained greens. Some holes have a great view of the ocean. The course is quite difficult and has very narrow fairways. Green fees: about R150.
41. Royal Cape Golf Club - (18 holes)
As you would guess, the Royal Cape Golf Club in Wynberg, (13 km from the city centre) being the oldest South African Golf Club, exceeds all expectations. There are many old trees on this 18-hole-championship course. It has a length of 6 174m and standard and par 74. Green fees: about R200.
42. Milnerton Golf Club - (18 holes)
This golf course, 10 km from Cape Town has an outstanding location, between a river mouth and the magnificent Atlantic Ocean and therefore very popular. Length 6 011m, par 72. Green fees: about R100.
43. Paarl Golf Club - (18 holes)
This 18-hole course designed by Ken Elkin is located in a valley on the banks of the Berg River. It offers a great view of the Paarl Mountains, thickly forested with many water obstacles. Visitors are always welcome. Green fees: about R100.
44. Stellenbosch Golf Club - (18 holes)
Stellenbosch is the University and wine-growing centre of the Cape. This very pretty golf course is 6 149m long and has par 74. Green fees: about R120.
45. Worcester Golf Club - (18 holes)
An 18-hole championship course, designed by Peter Matkovich. Located at the foot of the Brandtwacht Mountains, offering a breathtaking panorama of Worcester and the Breede River Valley. Trees, dams and water obstacles have been integrated in this rugged landscape. This course is a great challenge.
46. Bloemfontein Golf Club - (18 holes)
This course is 5 km from the city and is 6 344m long. Standard and par 71. The course is relatively flat, but with many surprises; for instance a few difficult short holes. Green fees: R70.
47. Oppenheimer Park Golf Club - (18 holes)
Situated in exceptionally beautiful parkland. Characteristics of this 18-hole-course are the roughs and the narrow fairways, which make it very difficult, even for the experienced player. Green fees: about R 65.
48. Riviera Country Club - (18 holes / Golf hotel)
Situated to Johannesburg�s south, only 40 minutes away. This 18-hole course winds its way through impressive landscape along the Vaal River and lies in the shade of huge willow trees. Length 6 290m , par 72. A hotel belongs to the Golf Club. Green fees: about R40.
49. Gary Player Country Club - (18 holes / Golf hotel)
This 18-hole championship course became famous through its designer Gary Player and the annual "Million Dollar Classics" Championship; all the world�s great golf players take part in this tournament.
It is - alone through its length - an extremely difficult and demanding course, a great challenge to even the most experienced player. It is regarded as one of the longest courses in southern Africa, with its length of 7 003m. It has par 72. Green fees: about R170.
50. Arizona Colf Course - (18 holes / Golf hotel)
This relatively new and unusual 18-hole and par 72 course, laid out in desert style, is the first of its kind in South Africa. The natural bushveld terrain with rock formations and gorges caused through erosion is very challenging. Green fees: R170. At its 13th hole, the Crocodile Pool, you will find fifteen crocodiles. The course was designed by the Gary Player Design Company, in conjunction with American experts. It is a desert course, however with many little lakes, water obstacles and narrow waterfalls along the fairways. A visit to the pro shop and club-house is worthwhile.