Erinvale was one of the earliest residential estate courses in South Africa to open back in 1995 and it made an immediate world wide impact the following year when it hosted the World Cup of Golf (which Ernie Els and Wayne Westner won for the home nation, ending an incredible four-year Fred Couples and Davis Love III winning streak for USA).
Located on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain overlooking Somerset West, Erinvale sits amongst the many wine estates and fruit farms that dominate the landscape close to Cape Town. It held two very successful South African Opens in 2003 and 2004 (which Trevor Immelman won on both occasions) and it may well be chosen as the venue for the prestigious national tournament again in the near future.
Gary Player’s original design has not been tampered with very much, apart from the planting of some new young trees, though a number of golfers feel the growth in housing around a few of the fairways to be excessive in places. The huge green complexes – with subtle contouring and clever positioning of greenside bunkers – are Erinvale’s prize assets, with even the pros struggling at times to post decent scores on them, depending on pin placements.
It’s also a game of two halves here as the course is routed over a relatively level front nine and a more hilly back nine. Water, in the form of small dams and streams, has to be contended with at several holes on the outward half before some really interesting holes are tackled on the more elevated ground of the back nine.
The par five 13th is the most scenic hole for many, overlooking False Bay, but it’s the downhill, par four, 17th that’s even more memorable. Played along the fence line that divides the estate from a nature reserve, the fairway is framed by tall pine trees on the left and out of bounds on the right. The approach has to be hit to a long, narrow green with pot bunkers on either side, leaving little room for error at this hole so late in the round.