South Africa's year-round sunny climate, glorious scenery, low costs and welcoming clubhouses make it an ideal destination for golfers.
Some of the country`s golf courses are true seaside links while others are surrounded by forests or set against grandeur of magnificent mountain ranges.
With 400 golf courses, many of championship standard, British golfers are now discovering the delights on offer in South Africa.
The game there has a long history. The first course in Africa, The Royal Cape, set in glorious mountain scenery north of Cape Town, was laid out in 1882.
Today it retains its sense of history and tradition - despite the guinea fowl that sometimes invade the fairway!
The opening of Royal Johannesburg followed in 1890. From these early beginnings, golf courses followed in the wake of the British settlers, spreading within the Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and into the South African interior.
Most clubs offer international visitors temporary membership - and locals look forward to playing with enthusiasts from overseas.
It is advisable to book starting times in advance, particularly at weekends or during public holidays. Clubs provide excellent facilities, with knowledgeable professionals, challenging courses and charming clubhouses, dispensing warm hospitality and remarkably good value South African beers and wines at the 19th hole! Normally a game is rounded off by a braaivileis (barbecue).
Golf resort complexes have been opened up where golfers stay in luxury properties set in superb golf courses. In many cases residents have exclusive use of the greens, so there`s no queuing at the tees. The quirks of the course can be discussed with fellow golfers in the relaxing bars or the elegant dining rooms.
Other outdoor recreational facilities may include swimming pools, tennis and squash courts. There may also be saunas, steam rooms and jacuzzis.
In the Western Cape, the main golf season is during the South African summer months from December to April. In the winter, the direction and severity of the notorious Cape winds will only add to the challenge - although it seldom gets very cold and some days can be calm and wind free.
The courses are lush and green year round, and most are very scenic, often surrounded by mountains.
Along the Garden Route, golfers will find some of the country`s most graceful and charming country hotels, again set in picturesque surroundings.
KwaZulu-Natal boasts some of the finest hotels and golf courses in the country - and its south coast is sometimes referred to as the Golf Coast. Many of the courses are of championship standard, playing host to international events from November to March.
However, due to the semi-tropical climate, visiting golfers may find the weather more pleasant in the cooler months from May to September. During the South African summer months, particularly in January and February, it can be hot and humid. Inland, in the area known as the Midlands, the climate is moderated by the altitude.
The golf courses of Mpumalanga and Northern Province are known for their striking natural beauty, with their characteristic flora of thorntree, bourgainvillaea and acacias. This is South Africa`s big game country and it is not unknown to see wildlife crossing the fairways! At the bushveld courses like Sabi, Hans Merensky and Malelane, it`s not unusual to see warthogs, monkeys or even antelope invade the greens - so take your camera as well as your clubs - otherwise your friends back home will never believe you.
The leafy suburbs of Johannesburg and Pretoria in Gauteng Province have a surprise in store for keen golfers - whether on business or pleasure - a selection of world class courses, all of championship standard. Several belong to country clubs with long and distinguished pedigrees.
Best known courses in North-West Province are to be found at Sun City and the adjoining Palace at the Lost City. The Gary Player Country Club, which hosts the annual "Million Dollar Challenge," one of the world`s richest tournaments, is surrounded by the rugged scenery of the African bush. Don`t let the critical eyes of the monkeys put you off.
The course at the nearby Palace at the Lost City has some even more unusual challenges - a group of resident crocodiles in the water hazard at the 13th hole. Unlucky for some!
The Free State and the Northern Cape also boast some excellent courses, particularly around their respective capitals of Bloemfontein and Kimberley.
Specialist golf tour operators have helped open up the market to international golfers, with packages tailored to their demands - while offering sightseeing options for their non-golfing partners. Most courses are located close to major visitor attractions - so there`s plenty for golfers to see and do when they can drag themselves away from the game.
In the Cape there are the winelands and the vibrant city of Cape Town to explore, while the courses on the Garden Route are close to almost deserted beaches or the lush Tsitsikamma forest.
Beaches are also a draw for those playing in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. In the case of the former, the dramatic mountain scenery of the Drakensberg is another attraction, as are the game reserves in Zululand.
The Kruger National Park, the private game reserve on its borders, and gracious country house hotels are within reach of the courses in Mpumalanga and Northern Province.
At the resort of Sun City, in North-West Province, the Pilanesberg National Park is literally on the doorstep.
Bloemfontein is a base for exploring the Free State with its Golden Gate Highlands National Park, while from Kimberley travellers can set off for the Augrabies Falls and the Kalahari Gemsbok National Parks.
Golf holidays in South Africa combine all the sophistication players might expect from courses in Europe and North America - together with that African magic not found elsewhere in the world.
The price factor:
Helped by the effects of the extremely advantageous exchange rates, green and caddy fees are remarkably low. Green fees average between �10-�20 - and why carry your clubs when you can hire a caddy for less than �10 per round?