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Fish River

Port Alfred, Eastern Cape
ArchitectBadgeGary Player
Port Alfred, Eastern Cape
Rankings
  • AddressR72 Coastal Road Waterloo Reserve, Port Alfred, 6170, South Africa

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.

In this edited extract from the book South African Golf Courses: A Portrait of the Best author Stuart McLean comments: ““During the construction of the Fish River course, which entailed bulldozing holes through the bush, Player took great care not to disturb the indigenous vegetation, especially the euphorbia trees which are common to this region. They stand like tall sentinels along several holes and apparently reminded Player of the huge cactus trees found on the desert courses in America.

The course is located along the coast near the Fish River mouth (but) it does not resemble a typical seaside course. The Old Woman’s River splits the front nine holes into two sections, with four lying on the far side of the course from the hotel. A floating bridge has been built across the river, which is some 50 metres wide and has to be carried twice.

The back nine comprises an interesting variety of testing holes, all twisting in various directions, making the wind an ever-changing factor. Gary Player prefers his designs to include some long holes and these can be found in the stretch from the 13th to the 15th. Fish River brings another championship course to the eastern Cape, one that is set to gain considerable respect in the years to come.”

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.

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.

In this edited extract from the book South African Golf Courses: A Portrait of the Best author Stuart McLean comments: ““During the construction of the Fish River course, which entailed bulldozing holes through the bush, Player took great care not to disturb the indigenous vegetation, especially the euphorbia trees which are common to this region. They stand like tall sentinels along several holes and apparently reminded Player of the huge cactus trees found on the desert courses in America.

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Gary Player

The Black Knight’s playing record is exceptional, he’s one of only five men to win golf’s career Grand Slam, and since the early 1980s Gary Player Design has also been rather successful.

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