The great Bob Ryan once said golf is "a passion, an obsession, a romance, a nice acquaintanceship with trees, sand and water."
And, oh my, what a stretch of trees, sand and water you get at Clovelly Golf Club!
Sandwiched between two great oceans on the southern hook of Africa, the view gets the butterflies in the tummy going as soon as you enter the parking lot. This will more than likely evolve into violent nerves, as soon as you step out of the car, given the high probability that the prevailing ‘South Easter’ wind is pelting off the Indian Ocean.
And you’re right to feel this way. When the trees bow down to the wind (as they literally do all over this course) then your game may well do the same, especially if you’re originally from Johannesburg, where wind is comparatively an anathema.
Nerves should turn to excitement as you roll into the clubhouse which is wedged into the mountainside, and perfectly subservient to all the views. Given the friendly staff, there are not many places with better starts before you’ve even swung a club…
Stand on either the first or the tenth tees, and ski-slope-like drops beckon you into a golfing amphitheatre. The screech-squaw of peacocks calling to each other echoes up to where you stand.
And then begins what is guaranteed to be a great golfing day out.
I find hole-by-hole commentaries dreadfully boring so just a couple of highlights:
- Both the 1st and the 10th deliver right and left doglegs respectively, dangling risk/reward for the long-hitter in perfect balance.
- Stand on the 2nd tee, and I imagine this is what it feels like if you’re ever lucky enough to tee off at Augusta – undulating fairway hemmed in by interesting tree profiles & flowers, with bunkers on-guard in key spots.
- If you have a tendency to hook the ball, the 3rd and 4th will have you wincing, with fynbos (local flora) out of bounds all the way up the left. The approach into the 4th will have to sucking in your belly, as the course funnels up to a single point- imagine the head of a spear. Stand on that 4th green looking back down the course, and you feel as a captain would standing on the aft deck of a pirate ship, more-so if you’ve just pillaged a par.
- You’ll quench your thirst at the watering-hole next to the tee on the 5th – it runs continually, which is fine given it runs straight off the mountain!
- Take a pause as you walk up to the 8th green, and take in the mountain right there. Yes, there are lots of mountain views on courses in the Western Cape, but few have one that is so proximate. Crane your neck upwards, and with the clouds rushing overhead it feels like a ‘land wave’ is about to come crashing down on your head. It also serves you up with a wall of colour: flower spectators in a different sort of gallery on the final hole of a major.
- The 15th is a wonderful golf hole, particularly the green complex, surrounded as it is by lily infested waters.
Shake hands on the last hole, and you’ll feel a deep satisfaction of a day well spent, and perhaps, the following quote from the Australian cult classic ‘The Castle’ will pop into your head:
‘Location, Location, Location’
Given the views, the
wind, the peacocks (+ other fauna), the colour and contrast of the surrounds,
this is one course you’ll never get bored of playing.
Date: December 28, 2020