According to Peter Matkovich – the architect behind Pinnacle Point – this is: “The most dramatic golf course site I've ever encountered anywhere in the world!”
The following edited extract is taken from South Africa's Greatest Golf Destinations by Jamie Thom and Stuart McLean:
“No South African course has created quite such a buzz within the international golf community as Pinnacle Point near Mossel Bay. It was named as one of the ten best new courses in the world soon after opening, and acclaim for its rugged beauty and dramatic holes has made it one of the most talked-about golfing destinations.
The reason for the hullabaloo is simple: no golf course designer before Peter Matkovich had previously been given the opportunity to work on such an extremely high site next to the ocean, and to build a continuous stretch of holes that hop and skip for a few kilometres, from the edge of one sheer cliff to another, suspended above pounding surf.
It took Matkovich’s bold and creative thinking even to contemplate the possibility of laying out eighteen holes on steeply sloping rocky terrain that seemed ill suited for the game of golf. Matkovich has succeeded spectacularly by letting his imagination run wild, and allowing the terrain to dictate the flow of the course.
He found room for three adventurous par threes on the cliffs, greens perched perilously close to the edge, created a short par four where the direct route to the green requires a 200-metre carry over a rocky inlet, and finished with a risk-and-reward par five banking along the side of the cliffs to its green on a headland.
The opening holes climb away inland away from the clubhouse before turning and falling back towards the ocean. There are thrilling drops in elevation before you reach the cliffs and play the short par three 7th, a flick wedge to a green on a rocky promontory. The back nine is routed in a figure of eight along the coastline, each hole having its own spectacular view.”
A feature of some new golf courses in the last 30 years, is that the designer has been asked to construct a course in unfriendly and yet awe-inspiring locations, mainly on cliff tops close to the sea. This is in an attempt to create the ultimate ‘jaw-dropping’ experience in which to play the game. And arguably, the golf course at Pinnacle Point near to the town of Mossel Bay in the Western Cape is the most dramatic yet. One of the marketing slogans to announce its arrival in 2007 was ‘Pebble Beach on steroids’ and certainly this is a breath-taking place in which to play. If the wind blows, as it did when Pinnacle Point held its one professional tournament to date, the golfing challenge is severe indeed, but on a calm sunny day the test is an extremely tough but manageable feast.
I had played Pinnacle Point a few times up to 2015, but yesterday was my first visit for seven years. The course has matured well, maintenance is top class, and the holes are now firmly established as is the surrounding vegetation and fynbos. The clubhouse is comfortable and a magnificent venue from which to view, and the caves at the bottom of the cliffs have sprung into world-fame. This is because some of the oldest surviving human remains have been found here, ironically during excavation works since the year 2000 just before the golf course was built. The only adverse activity since my last visit, has been the growth of housing development on the Pinnacle Point Estate with a vast number of new properties. If this continues unchecked, it threatens to ruin the landscape and suffocate the golf course.
The course starts slowly with three uphill holes, and it is only at the 4th that the tempo is upped. A straight long par four on the highest part of the site is the precursor to five spectacular holes. 5 is a dogleg downhill par five, and six a mid-length par four with the drive across a ravine to an uphill fairway with mounding protecting the hidden, narrow green. The 7th is one of the most dramatic short holes you will ever play, only 120 yards long and downhill to a rocky outcrop with the Indian Ocean on three sides. Selecting the correct golf club and allowing for the gusts of cross-wind are only two of the three challenges before the hardest bit, which is hitting the ball exactly as you intend. 8 is a classic risk/reward par four, in which you trust yourself to hit 230 yards across a bay to a well protected green, or take the safer route which still leaves a testing downhill short iron. And the fun continues at 9 with a 170 yard par three over gorse bushes with the sea on the right and bunkers on the left ‘bale out’ area.
And there is not much respite on the slightly easier back nine. This starts with two uphill holes away from the sea, and then 12 is a scenic downhiller before the signature hole at 13, an uphill par three of 140 yards to a green on a cliff across a small inlet. 14 to 17 are good quality holes heading slowly inland, with the par five at 16 a classic three-shotter. 18 provides a rousing climax with a long downhill dogleg to a green seemingly out in the Ocean, but in front of the club house.
Pinnacle Point is an unforgettable roller-coaster of a golf course, even if some, having lost a lot of golf balls, feel it is too tricked-up. In my view the course is great fun to play, and should be on every itinerant golfer’s bucket-list.
I had heard and read a lot about Pinnacle Point. Thus, I was excited to play it. Sadly, it is not very often that my expectations are exceeded, but they were here. An awesome fun course. Make no mistake about it, Pinnacle Point is an eye candy course. Not to the extent of Old Head, as Pinnacle Point has golf chops as well. Not sure how much I can add that hasn’t already been said, but I will give it a go. My only issue is the mandatory cart. The course starts slowly, one and two are welcoming par fours. The third has a blind approach. The long 4th is the number one handicap hole with a wonderful infinity green. The 6th is a short reachable downhill dogleg left. Definite birdie hole. The 6th is an uphill par four, favor the right off the tee. The Figure 8 green appears to be flanked by banks, on both sides. It is not the right bank ends about halfway. Thus, if the pin is back and you are planning on a bank or you push it, the ball is probably gone. I barely hung on. The short downhill par three 7th will illicit a “wow”. That is what the hole is called, it does not get much more visually stimulating than an island green sitting on a cliff with the ocean as a backdrop. As wonderful as 7 is I liked the 8th even better. A driveable dogleg right that is all carry over a ravine. The wind was with me, so going for it was an easy decision that I was able to take advantage of. Fun hole. The front ends with another par three on a cliff. Anything right and you are in the Indian Ocean.
The back starts with an uphill dogleg right. Favor the left off the tee to take the right fairway bunkers out of play and hit an extra club on your approach. The 11th is another dogleg right, one of the weaker holes. The 12th is an awesome hole, downhill with a ravine and ocean right. Off the tee aim at the two pot bunkers left, the fairway and the green roll left to right. The 13th is another par three with the green perched on a cliff. An impressive hole that is considered the signature hole. The 14th is a straight away par four paralleling the ocean. The 15th is a short par four that runs inland. The 16th is the longest par five, play it as a three shotter and stay right, there is ravine left. The 17th is a long par three. The 18th is a reachable, albeit risky, downhill dogleg left par five. The hold slopes hard right to left, thus, favor right of center. There is a rope bunker running the left side of the hole. Lay up on the right side to your favorite wedge yardage and hit it tight.
Other point so interest, as you are driving in you may notice a house with a what appears to be a plane in the living room. It is a plane, my understanding is the owner used to be a pilot and is now in a wheelchair. Secondly, the St Blaize trail passes through Pinnacle point. It is a wonderful cliffside walking trail and it is fantastic that the course and the trail can coexist.
I would pay to play Pinnacle Point again and again and again (especially if they let me walk)
Pinnacle Point is by far the best course I have ever played. I really do not know how it is so low on this list I definitely think it deserves a top 10 course probably even top 5. This course has the best views possible and is quite short but if you don't hit it straight you will be punished.
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Why this course is so low on this list amazes me. Such an incredible course. Its very tough and i think that alot of golfers have bad rounds and mark it down. No hole is alike, you have to hit long and straight, or sometimes just straight and play very tactically. Hole 7 is an incredible hole and one of the best that i have played in South Africa. Staff are friendly as well. Not for novices, but worth 2 rounds off the back tees to really enjoy this. Bring your camera and lots of balls.
It is easy to overlook Pinnacle Point with all the other great courses in the Western Cape, but it is a must visit. I played here in November 2020 with my father and what a round we had.
It is picturesque with sea views from almost every hole, and we saw dolphins on numerous occasions. The service is of course fantastic and if the wind blows, you are in for a tough day. The greens are wonderfully slopey.
This is a really fun course to play, with many canyons and cliffs to play over. My favourite was the par 4 8th, bail out left and assure yourelf of a par, or go for it over the cliffs - it is easily reachable in 1 with a well struck driver or 3 wood.
We stayed on site and only paid £55 to play which for such a well maintained course is incredible value.
I feel it could rank higher in official rankings for the area.
Pinnacle Point is probably one of the most difficult golf courses in the world. Course rating from the back tee is 76,3. But also, without doubt, among one of the world’s most scenic. Whether it is the first or second quality that is the reason for it being voted by World Golf Awards as being the best golf course in South Africa from 2016 to 2020, I don’t know.
The nature is fantastic and the course is simply impossible for the ordinary golfer to play just close to your handicap, and even the very best playing pros are having difficulties playing it to par. Some call it a risk-reward course. I don’t agree. It is a dead or alive course. Especially for 3 of the par 3 holes. Either you hit the green, are in the ravine or the ocean. There are no other options.
To the green fee you have to add a golf cart, because you are not allowed to walk. But it is a beautiful drive and an exciting experience. If you go to play it, be sure to bring many extra balls, because you are not allowed to go into the rough to pick it up. It is lost . . . I was lucky to play it twice in no wind. Wonder how many balls I would have lost in strong wind!
The Award, apparently is given to the course by ordinary golfers participating in a voting process facilitated by and on World Golf Awards home page. As I can see it there are no specific criteria to relate to, just click on one of the nominated golf courses.
In Denmark, for example, this year there are 6 courses to choose between. My question is: how and who are selecting the nominees and how many golfers are voting, and especially how many members from one of the nominated clubs? I could mention one or two more clubs in Denmark that I think deserve to be among the nominees.
It is really difficult for me to understand, the selection and voting process as well as the result, unless you, in the case of Pinnacle Point, votes Yes to: “this is the most scenic golf course in the whole of South Africa”.
I am confused. If it sis so wonderful why did you give it 3 1/2 stars?
I played the course twice within 3 days. What an fun and enjoyable course. You need a buggy and I'm not a fan, but it didn't impact on the experience. If staying around George, don’t miss out on this this course. Stunning views, especially when playing towards the clubhouse. The first day there were gusts up to 55 mph, on the second the wind was nearly in the complete opposite direction and gusts up to 15 mph. What this help show was how well designed the course was for different conditions. On most holes there is plenty of room off the tee to find a fairway and if the wind gets your ball you are likely to be in a lateral hazard and can take a drop. After a brutal first day, all 12 of us enjoyed the challenge so much we wanted to play again even if the conditions were the same. Fortunately, on the second day the wind down and you can start choosing better lines off the tee.
A good set of par 3’s. The shortest I the 7th, downhill and only 111 metres off the white tees with wind across towards the cliffs one day and downwind the next. The 16th, par 5 stroke index 1 was a 9 iron third shot one day and all of us were struggling to reach it in 3 second day. These two holes are an indication how it was a totally different experience to play from one day to the next, as it was for all 18 holes.
The stimp reading was 9 for the greens both days, understandable first day, and they were smooth. Condition of the course was excellent.
Sit back and have a well earned drink in the clubhouse with stunning views after the round.
Probably it is one of the most picturesque fields and one of the best golf courses in the Garden Route and TOP 10 in South Africa. I had played here 3 times in the middle of January, condition of fields was pretty good, greens could be faster (too slow for me). They have really 5 stars villas and apartments resort with acceptable price and discount for residens to play golf. I was bit dissapointed regarding driving range. It was somewhere outside fields and our company of players didn‘t reach it all week lived here. Golf cource is extremaly challenging, especially when windy. For example, one day when was relatively quiet, I over hit the green with PW in 7 hole (was 139 y to pin, bit downhill)...but next day with front wind I didn‘t reach green with 9 iron! Definitely I’m not pro player, but wind here make miracles. Some of this holes really eating your balls Especially 8th and 9th hole, also 13th with 18th. The 5th hole and 18th hole is calling to do risky long drive for an eagle chance...to be with second on the green, but everything depends on wind. Hole No. 8 is a true “Risk and Reward” hole – possibility to reach green from the tee turning your sensible mind off ... Actually every golf course rating is always a subject with a lot of subjectivity, depending on various criteria. I always rating by the following criteria: course complexity or challenging, fields condition (especially greens & fairways), service (only what you can get: buggie, club rent, condition of clubs, the amount of choice and etc. except staff and other subjective things that depends on your or staff mood), surrounding views or pleasure to the eyes and definitely value for the price. All criteries will be rating from 1 to 5 stars. Concerning Pinnacle Point my personal opinion is follow:
1. Challenging - 5*+ (especially when windy)
2. Condition - 4*
3. Service - 4* (everything OK, excl driving range)
4. Surroundings - 5*+ (surrounding images even prevents concentration of game)
5. Value for the price - 5*
I think it is one of „must be played“ in South Africa. If you want to test your accuracy – let‘s try!
I will be back and not one time.
Played it for about the third time today. Course - good, condition - okay. Wow factor - 10/10. I cannot imagine there being better wow golf holes in the world than 9, 12, 13 and 18 at Pinnacle Point. Incredible views!!