Plettenberg Bay – originally called Bahia Formosa (“beautiful bay”) by 15th century Portuguese explorers – is a popular tourist spot on the Garden Route that stretches along the southern coast of South Africa.
The golf club moved to its current location within a nature reserve in 1977 when its old 9-hole layout became swallowed up by a residential development. Mercifully, the modern day 18-hole course has no intensive housing to spoil the surroundings, which is more than can be said for a number of other Western Cape estate courses.
Hawtree and Sons, the famous English golf company, laid out the course in the Piesang River valley, and the design at Plett (as it’s known to the locals) makes great use of water at a number of holes, particularly on the front nine. In 2001/02, ten bridges were constructed around the course and Rob O'Friel upgraded all the greens to USGA standard, so nobody can accuse the club of standing still here!
The signature hole comes late in the round at the 395-yard, par four, 16th where the drive is played from an elevated tee with the river running down the left of the fairway then cutting across the front of the green – it’s a tough (stroke index 2) hole to play so near to home.
The four par threes are also real feature holes at Plett, with water in play at three of them – the other short hole, the 192-yard 8th has a totally different type of lateral hazard to the right of the green in the shape of a graveyard!