Arabella Golf Club is set dramatically on the edge of Bot River Lagoon. This wetland is home to thousands of waterfowl, so keep your eyes peeled for the Blue Crane… this beautiful bird is even the Arabella club emblem.
The prolific architect Peter Matkovich laid out Arabella on what was originally stony farmland. There was plenty of clearing to be done, “ you could not even walk next to the lagoon,” said Matko. So, in 1998 after a fair amount of earth moving and felling of invasive trees, Arabella opened for play to a rapturous standing ovation.
Arabella is in balance and naturally in tune. Each hole flows seamlessly and sits comfortably with the landscape The Bot River Lagoon certainly provides an unforgettable backdrop and the 8th hole, a magnificent par five, capitalises on the vista to a dramatic effect with the green seemingly cut into the lagoon itself.
Arabella Golf Club held the Nelson Mandela Invitational for a number of years between 2000 and 2006, after which time the event was re-branded as the Gary Player Invitational, which Arabella continued to host until 2008. At 6,381 metres, Arabella was not the stiffest of tests for the top pros, but the charity event was rather special and the atmosphere was more like a carnival than a normal PGA tour event.
Arabella leaves nothing to chance and this course really is in tune with nature. Even the long bunker, which runs along the edge of the 18th, is there to protect the Bot River Lagoon ecosystem. The sand is there to trap the chemical run-off so that the ponies and flamingos can go about the business in harmony with golf. “Listen to the land” is a wonderful design philosophy… thank you Matko.
Arabella is a resort style course located an hour east of Capetown in Sth Africa. Designed by Peter Matkovich, Arabella first opened for play in 1998.
The course traverses some hilly terrain, as well as wetlands bordering a large lagoon. An upmarket hotel is centrally located with commanding views over the course, lagoon and mountain backdrops. The views from the hotel are stunning..
The course starts out quietly with some pleasant hillside holes, but really comes to life with the gorgeous downhill par 5 8th with its flashy waste bunkers abutting the reeds of the lagoon. The green sits on a promontory with water both sides and behind. It does look good!
The ninth is a cape hole. It's a short par four from a tee out on the promontory. You get to choose how much water to take on, and must hit the correct line and length to hit the short grass. It is a perfect spot for a cape hole, but sadly the tee is set low and the reeds are tall, so the fairway is relatively unsighted from the tee. The waste bunker running inside the reeds is impossible to see. So a potentially great hole becomes less so, for the first time player.
On the back nine the course again heads up into the hills before returning to the coast for the pretty, heavily bunkered par 3 seventeenth hole, and the par five finishing hole. The 18th hole has a waste bunker right running the length of the hole. Go further right and you are in the reeds, and further right again you will find the lagoon. So you definitely don't want to head right! And it does get tight for the crucial second shot..
Arabella is good course, but for me it is defined by those four lagoon side holes at 8, 9, 17 & 18. We thought the hotel was excellent and an ideal place to start our trip down The Garden Route.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Fantastic course with some very tough holes. Gets a little repetitive and i think that they overused the bunker hazards but nevertheless one of the best courses in the Western Cape. The club house is excellent and there are very good practice faciliites.
Probably it is one of the best golf courses in the Garden Route and TOP 10 in South Africa. I had played in the middle of January, condition of fields was perfect, especially greens and fairways. They have really 5 stars hotel with acceptable price and discount for residens to play golf. I was bit dissapointed regarding driving range. It is quite small and narow, also short (you may use max 5 iron). Golf cource is not very challenging excl few holes as more open to wind. The 9th hole and 18th hole is calling to do risky drive for birdie chance. My opinion it is typical resort course with nice views and pretty good condition, service and surroundings, but some holes I find borring to play.
Golf field rating is always a subject with a lot of subjectivity, depending on various criteria. I always rating by the following criteria: course complexity or challenging, fields condition (especially greens & fairways), service (only what you can get: buggie, club rent, condition of clubs, the amount of choice and etc. except staff and other subjective things that depends on your or staff mood), surrounding views or pleasure to the eyes and definitely value for the price. All criteries will be rating from 1 to 5 stars. Concerning Arabella my personal opinion is follow:
1. Challenging - 3*+ (only few holes)
2. Condition - 5*
3. Service - 5*
4. Surroundings - 5* (beautiful views around)
5. Value for the price - 4*+
I think it is one of „must be played“ in Garden Route.
I will be back.
Arabella is a quality parkland course set around a security gated housing estate and luxury hotel with many holes having views of the Bot River Lagoon. The 9th, 17th and 18th holes play alongside the lagoon and its waters are some of the courses many hazards. There are plenty of groundstaff so the course and surrounds are kept in very good nick and much of the rough could be 'garden beds' on other courses! As expected for a course of this quality, a round is relatively expensive for SA courses but really would be considered a bargain in other countries.
There had been a significant amount of rain around before playing so the course was quite heavy, but it did little to detract from the wonderful layout and aesthetics of this golf estate. There was even another shower which blew over whilst playing the 16th and 17th, but then the clouds parted and we played the 18th in late afternoon sunshine. A birdie on the par 5 last capped off a really enjoyable round. This course is one of those where you can think back and feel satisfied that you've been tested, that you had opportunities to use different clubs and shots and that golf is a wonderful pastime. Recommended as an easy day trip from Cape Town.