The fairways at Pezula – meaning “high up with the gods” – are part and parcel of a sizeable residential estate laid out on a commanding headland at Knysna (pronounced “Niazs-na”), in the heart of the Garden Route, east of George.
The course was formerly owned by the Sparresbosch Country Club but became part of Zimbabwean developer Keith Stewart’s Pezula estate in 2000. Many believe the 18 holes here to be the most visually pleasing on South Africa’s entire coastline, which is a real feather in the golfing cap for American designer Ron Fream and his Golfplan company.
The front nine is routed in an anticlockwise loop a little way back from the cliffs, with water in play only once (at the 2nd) and holes 6 to 9 play on the other side of a service road before returning to the clubhouse. The back nine is also laid out in an anticlockwise direction and includes a lovely sequence of holes from 13 to 15, above the cliffs overlooking The Cove.
The signature hole at Pezula is the short par four 14th, where big hitters might attempt to go for it off the tee – they should be aware that anything short will be captured by a virtual desert of sand and anything sliced will be lost forever in the thick cliff top vegetation.
One word of warning – even with the mandatory use of golf carts (which normally speed play up) the average round here is estimated at a tardy 4 hours and 50 minutes, including a half way break. With such captivating views throughout though, who wants to rush around the course here anyway?
Ron Fream, course architect commented as follows:
“Pezula sits at the end of Africa and does not receive the attention it deserves as a successful luxury resort and prominently European secluded getaway. I find it interesting that our Golfplan team were the designers of the Tabarka Golf Course in Tunisia and Pezula in South Africa. These two courses have been the farthest north and farthest south on the African continent. Not widely known, but a nice in-house point of distinction and pride.
The joy of Pezula is in part due to an awe-inspiring Indian Ocean view and the quaint historic town of Knysna offers very comfortable charm. The Pezula Resort Hotel is indeed luxury in an understated way and a fourth important factor is the nature of the site; wonderful vertical terrain sweeping down to the cliff side is combined with a unique micro-ecological environment.
Sparrebosch is a locally unique mix of tree species. Fynbosch is a mix of shrub type vegetation including heather and protea that is a localized product of soil type and climate. The local native vegetation was used extensively, as were memorable views to the Indian Ocean and Knysna Lagoon. Our Golfplan team, primarily David Dale and I, spent a lot of time working with the project land use planners and hotel architects and getting the right pieces in the right place was a very serious and intense effort.
I am most pleased personally, with the effort to put a
hole (now the 14th) parallel to the cliff edge just above the roaring ocean. It
was no easy task convincing the developers to give up magical Indian Ocean
white water and blue water views for the par four hole but over time, the 14th
has emerged as a photographers dream and a signature of Pezula.”
Designed by Ronald Fream, Pezula GC sits on a ridge overlooking one of the biggest lagoons in South Africa.
To get to Pezula we drove east from George to Knysna, and then climbed significantly uphill to get to the resort.
The site has jaw dropping views over the ocean and the saltwater lagoon.
We had an outstanding experience at Pezula. The Resort is something special- one of those places you will always go back to! The staff were warm and friendly, and the facilities were fabulous
But it was the golf course we came to see, and on a sunny, blue sky day we ventured on to the course.
Playing Pezula was a roller coaster ride right from the start, and very challenging...
The land did not strike me as particularly suitable for golf, but more credit must go to the architect because the end result is stunning.
The front nine goes up, down and around the top of a ridge, and is cleverly routed. It has a run of holes that vary enormously, but all feel like they belong together.
The par 5 first hole has a ravine carry, and a semi blind uphill approach to a difficult green. It is too difficult, and takes too long to play for an opening hole, in my opinion.
Still, it does gets your attention, and the course does not let up from that point on until late in the back nine.
There are spectacular golf holes throughout- with strategic bunkering, challenging carries, significant elevation changes, and camera snaps everywhere.
In the front nine, I particularly liked the difficult par 4 second, and fourth holes, and the Nicklaus like par 3 fifth.
The back nine continues the ride with three very interesting holes high on the site followed by the unforgettable 300 metre descent on the par 5, thirteeenth hole.
It takes you back down to the oceanside cliffs, where the short par 4, fourteenth- the signature hole- had us in raptures, taking happy snaps from all angles.
The fourteenth green is set well below the fairway and has the white caps crashing against nearby cliffs as a backdrop.
The green is surrounded by expansive bunkering, and artistically styled wooden paths and steps. It just looks awesome!
The biggest disappointment with the course are holes 16 & 17.
Hole 16 is clearly a connecting hole to get you back up the hill, and is just awkward with severe cross hill fairways and a creek through the middle.
Hole 17 was compromised with a road reroute, and does not have the same interest as the rest of the course.
Nevertheless Pezula was a delight to play, and all who played rated it highly. You will want to return to Pezula!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Not a bad course with some great views of the Ocean and not to mention playing one or two holes with baboons. However i found this a little too easy and as long as you hit the ball long and straight off the tee you didnt realy have too much of a hassle to break 90. However it is worth playing whilst you are in the area.
I played Pezula in Jan 2020 as a last minute addition to our garden route itinerary. Pezula was in great shape and pace of play was good. There are some spectacular views on the back 9 as the routing goes along the coast. The course is surprisingly playable given the elevation changes and there are a number of holes that play less than their yardage. The only thing that is somewhat annoying is that some holes have fairway run-outs which resulted in having to hit hybrids/irons off tees. Overall Pezula is a fun course to play, its somewhat gimmicky but worth a stop if you are in the area.
Played here in October. All I can say is thank god for golf carts, because I have never played a course with so much elevation change. Overall, this is a fine course with a mixture of spectacular sea views and forest holes. The standout is quite clearly the 14th, both for view and tactical nous required. A hybrid followed by a knock down wedge led to an simple par, however, it is easy to see how this hole could rack up a big score. In a way, that sums up Pezula, it needs to be played a few times so you understand the best lines. Many holes are layups off the tee, and some, like 17, offer you a hero shot for glory or disaster. And once you get to the greens, there is no respite for they have lots of elephants buried in them, and they are fast. I enjoy Pezula, however, it is not a course I think I could play every Saturday.