Why South Africa?
Like the vast majority of countries that were once conquered by the British, South Africa is characterized by its great golfing tradition. With a 50 million population (of which only 10% are of white ethnic), this country located on the same latitude as Argentina, has nearly 500 golf courses (versus the 280 existing in our country). Gofers population is around 150,000 and their National Open Championship (played for the first time in 1903) is one of the five oldest in the world. Its location in the map is another plus to the underlying Europe and the same time zone, midway between Asia and America, but below the Ecuador. All these factors combined, put South Africa in the Top Ten BEST SELLER destinations in golf tourism, especially during the northern hemisphere winter.
Definitely something worth to know personally…. Let’s go and golf South Africa!
Flying into Cape Town
The flight is very comfortable and operated by two good companies like South African and Malaysia. Both offer 8-hour direct flights connecting Buenos Aires to Cape Town or Johannesburg twice a week (Thursdays and Sundays). While Jet lag in the way in is important for the 5 hours difference, the return is a pleasure, we left at 11:00 am from Cape Town, and at 2 pm we were back in Buenos Aires.
Have you ever teed-off at 4 am in the morning? Well that was my internal time!! I left Buenos Aires at 8:00 pm, arrived there at 9am local time, and the guy waiting for me took me directly to the tee!!! For my body were 2:30 am in the morning!!! Golf is not easy in the afternoon! Imagine at 2am in the morning!
Golf in Western Cape, Cape Town
I first visited the area of Western Cape (Cape Town). The capital city is a very nice place, with low mountains that descend to the sea, where you can enjoy many beaches of white sand. It’s a very European style city with a great social mix in the streets.
The hotel is one of the points to highlight as it is in the standards of major countries worldwide, making it possible to enjoy rooms with modern decoration and fully equipped from $ 100 USD a night at four stars.
In Western Cape, I played three different courses: Arabella Golf Club, a course with wide fairways, 6,800 yards long and established in 1999. The design is very good, and offers beautiful views of the natural Kleinmond lagoon which runs alongside, the maintenance is first class. The golf course is part of real estate development that includes country club and a luxury Spa Hotel, member of “The Luxury Collection”.
We also played at Erinvale Golf Club, designed by Gary Player and set at the foot of the Helderberg. This is a “target shot” very enjoyable course, with some holes on the plane, and other laid out on a very broken terrain. Finally before leaving the Western Cape, visited Pearl Valley Golf Estates. Another real estate venture that includes a country club, luxury hotel, rental villas and a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, host venue of South African Open on 2008, 2009 and 2010 (with point for the European Tour).
This is a serious golf club from every point of view, the design of the course is really excellent (in fact the best Nicklaus course I’ve ever played after Punta Espada in Cap Cana), extremely challenging and very competitive, with great views and an enviable maintenance. The modern and comfortable clubhouse offers luxury facilities. The club has also an outstanding practice area, and the efficient helpful personnel manage the place like clockwork.
Before leaving Eastern Cape, we take a couple of hours to visit the vineyards and wineries of Stellenbosch. As mentioned above Cape Town is located between the sea and the east side of the mountains, on the west face of the same mountain is located the epicenter of one of the eight “Great Wine Capitals of the World.” Hundreds of small boutique wineries offer tasting, gourmet dishes and serial collection bottles at great prices. One of the places we visited was “Ernie Els Wines”, where apart from wines he shows his complete line of golf wear and his trophy room, with replicas and originals of some of the famous cups he received in his successful career as pro.
Golf in Johannesburg sorroundings
Early in the morning, we took one of the 17 direct two hours flights that everyday connect the two most important cities of SA: Cape Town with “Joe Burg” as the locals call it.
Johannesburg is located 1,600 kilometers northwest of Cape Town, just 30 minutes from Pretoria, in the middle of the geography of the country and over 1,800 m above sea level. The landscape is the typical postcard of Africa we have seen since childhood. It is an arid savanna of big heat amplitude, with cold nights and very hot afternoons!
We drove to the outskirts in search of the Euphoria Golf Estate Hydro, one of the first courses in the world designed by Annika Sorenstam. Once again this is a real estate development with golf, 5 star hotel and Spa.
The course is interesting, but complicated. Has more than 7,200 yards and has a lot of bunkers (some very deep), formidable greens, and rough on both sides of the fairway. The highlight is cable car linking the clubhouse with lounge bar located on top of a hill, from where you can live a unique 19th hole with African style plain sunsets.
“The best for the end” they say….
Legend Safari & Golf Resort
Less than an hour from Euphoria, within the region of “Limpopo” at the feet of the “Hanglip Mountain” and inside the “Entabeni” natural reserve is a unique venture in the world: “Legend Golf & Safari Resort”. This millionaire development includes the “Legend Golf Course”, an 8,000 yards plus course, unique in the world for having each of the 18 holes designed by top players, “Legends of the PGA Tour”. Among the designers we can mention Bernard Langer, Trevor Imelman, Luke Donald, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, KJ Choi, Camilo Villegas, Mike Weir, Justin Rose, Robert Allemby, Retieff Goosen, Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomery.
This spectacular course required coordination and an unprecedented effort for involving and engaging each of these golf stars to take his time to make a contribution on this legacy. The course is long, wide and very enjoyable (ideal for a golf resort), without being very penalizing the concept of “risk and reward” will be present all the time. Definitely one of those courses where you will want to play more than once. In addition due to the natural slope of the surrounding terrain, the place offers astonishing panoramic views, including the abundance of local fauna. YES!
You will play golf among zebras, giraffes, antelopes, etc. As for accommodation, the resort offers 5 star luxury villas, recently inaugurated with latest technology equipment and comfort, as well as a “Lodge Resort” located in the middle of the Entabeni Reserve. The hotel also offers daily safaris in open Land Rovers to the “Big Five Game Reserrve” where we closely stared the “big five”: elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino (called so because of their danger), also has one of the few reserves in the world of “White Lions”, a species extinct outside of captivity. The resort also has a golf high performance training center with cat flaps and areas of special practice that reproduce the three most commonly used types of grass designed for tour players.
We were also proud to be the first golfers to play the “Tribute Course”, a practice course that reproduces in detail (same type of grass, measures, distances, slopes and breaks) ten of the best par 3 in the world (as #10 Pine Valley, Troon #8, St. Andrews #11, Augusta #12 and #16 or Sawgrass #17).
Before returning to Buenos Aires, we experienced the most extreme tee shot existing in the world of golf….
The “Extreme 19th”, par3, 770 yards!!
Located on top of “Hanglip Mountain” at 400 meters high, there is a small tee box of 2m x 2m. A one minute helicopter flight takes you and your driver up there. From the edge of the precipice is easy to see the green of more than 600 square meters (built under USGA rules) that perfectly reproduces the size and relief of the African continent, surrounded by a bunker that reproduces the oceans.
YES, you are not drunk! You read well! 400 meters high, 400 meters away in a straight line and a flight total carry of over 700 meters to reach the green. For you to have an idea of what we are talking about make silence for 34 seconds………
Well, that’s the normal time the ball needs to land on the green!!! and incredible but triuth, if you hit the green you will hear the nosie!!! Please repair the kick….
It is the longest par 3 in the world, and the reward makes it worth a try: ONE MILLION US DOLLARS for those who achieve a hole in one! In fact you need to drive the equivalent to 290 yards (in the plain) to reach the middle of the green on a windless day, which does not happen very often. It is a unique experience! You can watch the videos on youtube of Padraig Harrington or Sergio Garcia playing it!
The resort owners plan to get on that tee Tiger Woods and Nelson Mandella together for an official launch somewhere in time. Sounds hard to get??? Nothing appear to be impossible for these guys!
Why South Africa?
As you have read, South Africa offers a fantastic combination of golf, wine, wildlife, hotels of high standard and helpful lovely people. If you add the value to fly non-stop in less than 10 hours, and that their prices are very similar to to Buenos Aires, this explains why is South Africa one of the BEST golf destinations in the world!!