If you’ve been getting bored of playing the same old courses in your local area, it’s natural that your mind will start to wander further afield. The chances are that you’ve already been exploring some of the amazing courses showcased on YouTube, and that’s given you some food for thought about a golfing holiday somewhere warm and sunny.
Many golfers head to Spain, Florida or Dubai to get their overseas golfing fix – but have you considered South Africa? It’s one of the most stunning destinations to play golf anywhere in the world, and it’s a place steeped in golfing heritage, thanks to Open champions like Gary Player, Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen.
If you’re tempted by a golf holiday in South Africa, then you’re in the right place to start. This guide highlights why it’s such a great destination, our top picks of the best South African courses, and what you need to bear in mind before you go.
Why play golf in South Africa?
It may seem like the length of the flight from the UK (normally around 10 or 11 hours) means that a golf holiday in South Africa is more trouble than it’s worth. However, it won’t take you long to change your mind once you’re there.
There’s the chance to play on some of the most varied landscapes anywhere in the world: you can be surrounded by desert, savanna, forests, mountains, coastline, cities and more. The weather is warm all year round (certainly much warmer than the UK overall), and if you’re making a holiday of it, there are plenty of off-course activities to keep you busy, too. Safaris, scenic drives and wine tastings are just some of the pursuits you can enjoy after you’ve completed your 18 holes.
The best places to play golf in South Africa
South Africa is littered with championship-standard golf courses throughout the country, so wherever you decide to go in the Rainbow Nation, you’ll have plenty to choose from. Here are four of our favourites:
Gary Player Country Club
Part of the huge Sun City resort that is considered one of go-to South African golf destinations, the GPCC features two courses, both designed by the nation’s most famous players. The main course has hosted championship events for more than 40 years and measures more than 7,700 yards from the longest tees, while the Lost City Course features plenty of challenging water hazards to avoid. In particular, be careful around the 13th hole if your ball ends up in the water – you might have to fight the crocodiles to get it back!
Fancourt South Africa
Fancourt is a relatively new resort, developed in the 1990s, but it’s now well established as one of the elite golfing destinations in the Western Cape. The Links, opened in 2000, is the jewel in the crown among its three courses – it’s a former host of European Tour events and is ranked the number one course in all of South Africa. It’s the perfect combination that any serious golfer would want: the challenge of a links course reminiscent of those in the British Isles, with the friendlier climate of the South African sun.
Durban Country Club
With sand dunes on one side and the Indian Ocean on the other, there are few courses that can give you a more varied backdrop than the Durban Country Club. It’s hosted the South African Open many times over the years, and is far enough away from the city to be peaceful, but close enough to still be easily accessible. As of 2022, the course has existed for 100 years, and there’s no doubt that this course has truly stood the test of time.
Pearl Valley Golf Club
If the wine tastings mentioned above have piqued your interest, then you’ll need a course handily located in the Cape Winelands. Look no further than the Pearl Valley Golf Club. Opened in 2003, it’s a rare gem in world golf in that it was designed by Jack Nicklaus, and there’s a bit of everything to challenge you. Sizeable water hazards and tall grass off the fairway are a constant presence to catch out the unwary – as is the breath-taking mountain backdrop that can easily distract!
What are the key considerations to bear in mind?
When going to South Africa for any reason, it’s always important to bear safety in mind, as crime can be an issue in some places. Make sure you plan ahead, seek out local expertise for where to go and not to go, and exercise some caution if you’re in the bigger cities or out at night.
While the weather in South Africa is generally good, it can vary considerably according to the time of year. Their summer (during the UK’s winter months) can be hot and dry. Whilst the southern hemisphere winter is fairly warm there, it can be wet and windy at times. Make sure you take this into account when deciding which time of year to travel.
Additionally, don’t overlook the importance of insurance. A trip to South Africa, along with your golf clubs, flights and accommodation, represents a significant financial outlay. If an incident occurs that you aren’t insured for, you could be left substantially out of pocket as a result.
Get golf insurance with SportsCover Direct
SportsCover Direct has been covering golfers like you across the globe for the last 30 years. Our golf insurance policies make sure that you won’t be out of pocket if you get injured, if you inadvertently hurt someone else, if your travel is disrupted, or if your precious clubs are lost, damaged or stolen. Our cover is available at competitive rates, and can even be paid for through flexible payment plans.