22 Gleneagles Road,
- +27 (0) 43 735 1356
Off the R72 North East Expressway
Contact in advance
George Peck, S. V. Hotchkin
The ground at Bunkers Hill was the third and final site chosen by East London Golf Club members and the course opened in 1923, thirty years after the club was formed. The course has hosted the South African Open seven times (between 1930 and 2001) and it’s widely regarded as one of the top tracks in the Eastern Cape. A sixteen-year-old Ernie Els won his only SA Amateur here in 1986.
Located a short distance north of East London and set out on elevated ground close to the coast, the layout has a great mix of parkland and links features with undulating fairways and elevated greens, many of which are heavily protected by bunkers. East London has been described as “a delightful world of roller-coaster golf” where golfers have to contend with steep climbs up and down dunes, more often than not with a strong wind blowing in off the sea.
In this edited extract from the book South African Golf Courses: A Portrait of the Best author Stuart McLean comments: “The many steep climbs encountered while playing this undulating golf course, which is perched in isolation on prime land next to the sea, leave one breathless – as do the striking views of the Indian Ocean and the city’s beachfront.
‘East Bank’, as the 18 holes at the East London Golf Club are known locally, is one of the several unusual and rugged courses found in the Eastern Cape. It is an exciting experience to play East London for the first time, as it produces so many unexpected delights over its generously diverse area.
From the elevated clubhouse, which offers a magnificent outlook over the sea and sandy beaches, it is hard to form any kind of picture of the course itself. Much of it is concealed in the hills and dense bush from which the course was carved, an undertaking of demanding proportions when laid out by professional George Peck, The course was remodelled later in the 1920s by Colonel S.V. Hotchkin.”
The signature hole 9th is a dogleg left par four where the tee shot is struck from an elevated tee to the crest of a high,
sloping fairway. A good drive will take the slope into a beautiful narrow
valley, and allow a long second shot into the green. The second part of the hole
is daunting, both sides of the hole being framed by thick coastal
East London first hosted the Sunshine Tour’s
Africa Open in 2009, when it was won by Retief Goosen. In 2010 it became part of
the European Tour, and the winners have been Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen
(twice), Darren Fichardt, Thomas Aiken and Trevor Fisher. The last Africa Open
was played in 2015, when the sponsorship was discontinued.
East London is a very exciting and interesting course to play. For many holes, when you have finished putting and start walking toward the next hole you have not a clue as to what is awaiting you on that hole. That is; the view to the next tee and fairway are hidden by hills and trees. And then – suddenly – you stand there, and wow!!.
It a hilly course and challenging. On all holes you need the best of your course management and shot making skills. And it is one of the most beautiful walks we have made so far here in SA. It is a par 73 hole course and even so, not that long. But still a great challenge for player of all levels.
We played East London three times in four days last year. The welcome at the club was terrific, with the manager of golf pointing out that early morning play was much cheaper for visitors. The facilities at the club are splendid. If you are eating late in the day, double check the restaurant closing time.
The course has a splendid variety of holes, with not a trace of Mickey Mouse anywhere. Tees are in great condition, fairways are excellent, and greens are in great condition, with a true and smooth roll. I have to confess. I found them difficult , but that’s down to me. I felt this is a course you could play every day, and never get bored.
I have played this course many times and I think it is a great course. Just very disappointing that my son (16 years old) had to pay R250 today to play 18 holes.