The Fish River Sun Country Club – formerly part of the Sun International Leisure Group of Hotels, Resorts and Casinos – is located just outside Port Alfred on the Eastern Cape coast. It’s a Gary Player designed parkland course which plays to nearly 7,000 yards and the winds that blow in from the Indian Ocean offer links-like playing conditions.
The Kikuya grass fairways at Fish River Sun are generally tight with bunkers, bush and Euphorbia trees on either side to punish stray shots. Water hazards are limited on the front nine to a couple of ponds at the 5th and 8th holes but there’s a fair chance of getting a few golf balls wet later in the round as the Old Women’s River cuts through the course on the inward half, cutting off the 13th to 16th holes.
The signature hole on the card is the par five 12th which is also stroke index one. It doglegs left alongside the river, playing to an elevated green protected by rough on either side. A raft then connects the next three holes on the other side of the river before the approach to the 16th is played back across this expanse of water to a green on the opposite bank – a tricky little loop of holes at a crucial point in the round.
In December 2017, after a number of years of heavy financial losses, Sun International closed the resort. A protracted land claim, which has not yet been resolved, prevented the leisure group from selling the property. A few months later, the Fish River course reopened after the Mantis Group stepped in to run the facility.