The Jack Nicklaus designed Simola opened in 2005 – only the third Golden Bear signature course in South Africa – and it sits majestically on a wooded landscape overlooking the Knysna River, with the Outeniqua mountain range in the background.
The course is parkland in nature, unusually configured with five par threes and five par fives, and it’s routed between two valleys that are divided by the Simola Ridge. The opening seven holes overlook Knysna Heads and Lagoon and the remaining holes, on the other side of the ridge, enjoy great river views.One of the best holes is played early in the round at the short par four 2nd. This dramatic hole is played from a tee perched high above the fairway and from this vantage point, all seven fairway and greenside bunkers can be viewed, allowing golfers the opportunity to plan the best two shot route to the target.
Simola vs Pezula is a frequent debate... for me Pezula was too gimmicky for a first visit and I enjoyed Simola much more.
Simola is a Jack special. Big wide fairways, huge bunkers, massive sloping greens and an emphasis on your second shot.
Certainly one of the hilliest courses I have ever played as the course is located on the side of a mountain but the course makes the most of this with some wonderful fun holes with great elevation changes.
The course was in A1 condition the day we played it... pristine fairways and slick but receptive greens. The only downside were the bunkers which were soft and wet on the surface but with a very hard layer of compacted sand 2cms down which made geenside splash shots almost impossible.
The final takeaways were the views. I have been lucky to play Pebble, Whistling Straits, Kingsbarns and many other fantastic courses but the views from Simola beats them all.
A great experience and a wonderful place.