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Author: Leonard van Nunen

Amazing golf courses along South Africa's Garden Route

21 September 2023
7 min. read
Leonard van Nunen
While travelling from Port Elizabeth west to Cape Town with my family (me, my wife and two teenage daughters) I played four amazing courses. South Africa has 271 Golf courses. The maintenance level of most courses is very high and with designers like Gary Player, Ernie Els and Jack Nicklaus these courses can compete with top courses anywhere in the world.
South Africa's magnificent Table Mountain. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

St Francis Links

View from one of the 4 bedrooms at Cape St. Francis Resort Seagull’s Song villa. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

After our plane touched down in Port Elisabeth we picked up our rental car at the airport, very conveniently just across the road from the arrival terminal. First, we drove to Cape St. Francis Resort where we got the keys to our villa, the Seagull’s Song. This amazing summer villa was situated literally behind the dunes with our own access to the beach. As part of the package, we were treated to a freshly made breakfast in the morning cooked by 3(!) staff members and it was amazing. The house was huge and had wonderful views from the bedrooms over the beach and all the way to the lighthouse. There was a nice fireplace (that we definitely needed since this was one of the coldest winters in South Africa for a long time).

Besides playing golf, there is plenty to do for visitors and families. Take a nice long walk along the beach, watch the surfers catching waves, take one of the many nature walks in the area, watch whales splashing in the waters around the lighthouse, enjoy a cosy coffee break or delicious dinner at the lighthouse or in one of the harbour and town restaurants.

Clubhouse & 18th green at St. Francis Links. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

Cape St. Francis Resort is only 10 minutes by car to St. Francis Links, this 18-hole course, designed by Jack Nicklaus was opened in 2006 on a very nice terrain next to the sand river overlooking the town and the bay. It is very well-designed and fun to play, check my full review via the button below. Make sure to plan enough time to play it at least twice to really get to know the course.

Pinnacle Point

One of the incredible scenic par 3’s at Pinnacle Point. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

After staying at St. Francis Bay for two nights we moved on to Mossel Bay where we stayed at Pinnacle Point Estate and played Pinnacle Point together with my wife and my daughters driving the buggies and caddying 😉. Pinnacle Point is in my personal top 3 of the most dramatic surroundings for a golf course.

Most courses would kill for only one of the four insane ocean view par 3’s they have. If you want to read my review check it via the button below. There is plenty to do in the area, it’s called the adventure capital of the Garden Route. With activities like the longest zip line over the Ocean (1.100 meters), surfing, scuba diving, sky diving etc.


2nd Hole at Fancourt The Links. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

The next stop was at Fancourt in George where I played The Links, designed by Gary Player and currently the no. 1 course in South Africa according to the Leading Courses community. To play there you have to stay at The Fancourt Luxury Hotel & Resort. And that is an amazing place! 

We had such a good time at the Fancourt Hotel that we decided to stay an extra night, the kids could have fun in the Teen Lounge in the Leisure Centre watching movies, playing pool or jumping in the swimming pool. The suite we stayed in had all the necessary amenities and even more like heated floors in the bathroom and a nice fireplace that was even lit by the concierge if you rang them.

Suites at Fancourt Resort. (Photo: Sandra Walthes van Nunen)

In the Fancourt Resort, there are several dining options, including the restaurant, the Club Lounge, in the clubhouse of Outeniqua, which is also open for dinner. Also, there is La Cantina, an Italian restaurant where breakfast was served and the fine dining restaurant Henry Whites. Since we were staying an extra day in Fancourt I took the opportunity to play one of the other two courses in the resort, Outeniqua, also designed by Gary Player but in a totally different style from the links. If you want to read my review click the button below.

First hole, just after dawn, at Gary Player's Outeniqua Course. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

After Fancourt we continued our trip to Cape Town, making a stop for two days in Hermanus and enjoying some day trips to the Winelands and Cape Point while staying in a great apartment on the Waterfront.

Africa Golf Safari

Africa Golf Safari organises amazing trips all around South(ern) Africa. (Photo: Africa Golf Safari)

Arranging this trip we received a lot of help from Africa Golf Safari which organises amazing trips all around South(ern) Africa. They have excellent local knowledge and contacts. The founders and team’s collective experience in the African travel industry brought together the best hotels, spas, restaurants, safari experiences, championship greens and adventures to create first-class five-star travel itineraries. If you want to see what Africa Golf Safari can offer in South Africa have a look at their website.

Leopard Creek

Veranda at Buhala Lodge. (Photo: Leonard van Nunen)

Before the Garden Route trip, we flew into Johannesburg and drove to Kruger Park to do some safaris and if possible play Leopard Creek. This course is the host for the DP Worldtour Dunhill Championship and is situated on the border of Kruger Park only separated by the Crocodile River. To play at Leopard Creek you need to stay in one of 15 designated lodges and then you are allowed to book a tee time.  We stayed in Buhala Lodge a beautiful lodge also on the bank of the Crocodile River just 10 minutes by car from the course. 

Looking left from the 10th tee at Leopard Creek you can see Elephants. (Photo by Leonard van Nunen)

Leopard Creek is a bucket list course in my opinion. I don’t think there is any other course in the world where you start the back nine with a herd of elephants watching you tee off. 

The design of the course, originally done by Gary Player and touched by Jack Nicklaus and Ernie Els is excellent. Pick your tee wisely and bring your "A" short game. To read my full review click the button below.

Golf in South Africa = Bucket List material

South Africa is an amazing country to visit and to play golf in. The nature and landscapes are breathtaking, the people very friendly and cost of living (compared to the Northern Hemisphere) very affordable. Also green fees for an average public 18 holes course are ± R 750 (app. € 37,50) some private courses are more expensive but the quality of maintenance and service level is a lot better than most courses in Europe. Since South Africa is located in the Southern Hemisphere it is a perfect winter destination and should definitely be on your bucket list.


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