Pearl Valley was the second Jack Nicklaus Signature course to open in South Africa when it was officially inaugurated in a match between the Golden Bear and another golfing great, Gary Player, in 2003.
Laid out within a 500-acre residential estate in the Cape Winelands, Pearl Valley is one of the most visually pleasing courses imaginable, with brilliant white river sand bunkers that contrast sharply against the varying emerald hues of the fairways and greens.
Situated in a valley within the Drakenstein Mountains, the course is largely laid out on the level and, interestingly, the eight par three and par five holes on the card play in different directions; ensuring that the winter northwesterly and the summer southeasterly winds are not experienced from the same direction in relation to the layout of these holes.
The 230-yard par three 3rd is one of a number of memorable holes on the front nine with water cutting in on the right side of the putting surface and a greenside bunker lurking to catch wayward tee shots. The par five 4th has a creek that is crossed three times from tee to green and two tough par fours at 7 and 8 circumnavigate the largest of Pear Valley's five lakes.
The South African Open was held at Pearl Valley for three consecutive years from 2007. James Kingston was the first to win here at Paarl and Richard Sterne won the following year with Richie Ramsay lifting the title in 2010.
If you like natural golf courses then Pearl Valley is not for you. What you get is a typical Jack course carved from a flat piece of land which meanders through high end housing in a very beautiful part of South Africa.
The golf course itself is fun. There is enough water and features to keep it interesting but otherwise it is a pretty standard resort style course... big wide fairways, lots of bunkers and massive greens with big slopes.
Overall I highly enjoyed my round. The course is in excellent condition and the prevailing wind keeps you honest and makes sure you concentrate at all times.
The facilities are first class and all the staff we met were absolutely wonderful. The more prestigious Fancourt could learn much from Pearl Valley on genuine customer service.
Finally, the views. With mountains on both sides and views up the beautiful Franschhoek valley, this is an incredible place to walk with your head held high and soak in this incredible country.