Peter Matkovich, South Africa’s foremost contemporary golf architect laid out the course here in the mid-1990s. His design philosophy is founded on the principle of “listening to the land.” However, as he says of Steenberg, “the course required considerable shaping and a small stream was created to manage excess water that drains off the mountain. This flows through the course and comes into play on many of the holes.”
The course is part of a long-established estate that includes a 17th century wine farm, hotel and residential properties and the holes – many of which are doglegged – are routed through the Steenberg vineyards; moving from pine-treed parkland (there’s a tremendous par four at the 3rd with Silvermine Mountain as a backdrop) to wetlands (where the 7th is a real feature hole) then to a more heathland section (waste bunkers flank a few fairways, as at holes 9 and 12) before ending in parkland again (with the creek coming into play at the last two holes).
The feature holes on each nine are both par threes. The elevated green at the 181-yard 7th is surrounded on three sides by a lake, with white sand in a horseshoe-shaped bunker separating the grass on the putting surface from the water. The wickedly contoured green at the 203-yard 14th is one of the biggest in the country (at nearly 85 yards long) and it’s circled by six enormous bunkers which act as a buffer between the putting surface and some thick local shrubbery – there’s little room for error at either of these two hair-raising holes!
The following short extract is from the book Green Splendour by Juan Espi:
“Steenberg’s glorious bent grass greens, regarded by many as the best in the Western Cape, are worth the experience all on their own, though Steenberg has a lot more to offer than immaculate greens. Walking amongst the vines on the lush manicured kikuyu fairways reminds one of just why one plays this wonderful game. Like the splendid Cape wines of the region, Steenberg continues to improve with age and provides one of South Africa’s most picturesque and enjoyable golf courses.”