Stellenbosch is one of the oldest clubs in South Africa, which celebrated its centenary in 2004, and it lies close to the Helderberg Mountains, in the heart of the nation’s wine region. We don’t know who designed the club’s original course but we do know it was doubled in size from a 9-hole layout to a full 18 holes by Ken Elkin in 1953.
The expanded course occupies fairly flat terrain with only a few gentle changes in elevation and water coming into play at only four holes: 2, 5, 12 and 18. Expect a tough start to a round here as the opening quartet of par fours all measure in excess of 400 yards from the back tees.
A really strong hole on the front nine is the par five 8th, which locals call “Snakes and Grapes” – a slice sends shots into the bush on the right and a hook results in a lost ball in the vineyards on the left. On the back nine, the demanding par five 14th requires shot-making skills of a high order, starting with a fade from the tee, followed by a draw for the second shot (or vice versa for the lefty).A number of top competitions have been held at Stellenbosch in recent years, including the South African Open in 1999 and – along with co-hosts De Zalze – the World Amateur Team Championships in 2006. The ladies from the home nation claimed the Espirito Santo Trophy for the first time when their team forced the holders, Sweden, into second place.
Stellenbosch is old school. A fairly predictable parkland layout. The strength of the course are the greens. The only really memorable stretch of holes is 5-8. The fifth is a downhill reachable par five. The 6th is a beast and the number one handicap hole. It is a 470 yard par four that is uphill and the last 80 yards there is a sharp dogleg left. There is OB left, and even with a great drive your approach shot will be over the OB area. In addition the green is elevated with two trees in front. One of the toughest holes I have ever played. The 7th is not an easy hole to find, stay left on the cart path. The 7th is the shortest par three and is downhill to boot. A good birdie hole and you will have a lovely view of the town. The 8th is also a reachable par five but the hole slopes hard right to left. Thus, favor right of center off the tee. The green is protected by bunkers left and right. With the slope it is possible tot run your shot onto the green, albeit highly unlikely.
Played Stellenbosch Monday, I know lucky us being stranded in South Africa, where everything is very safe and golf courses & restaurants are open. Everyone is social distancing outside.
Stellenbosch was a fairly straightforward course, well worth playing, an easy walk apart from the heat. The best it were the greens which were so true, you knew you had missed your put early.
As the previous reviewer says the clubhouse was well worth a visit.
Stellenbosch is an old traditional park land course with tall trees framing the fairways, doglegs left and right and water areas to negotiate. Shots to the green can be a challenge for all levels of golfers. In that sense it is a risk and reward course, take too big risks at the wrong places and you will be punished. It’s a great walking course with a good flow, though in a few places it would have been a help for green fee players with a clearer signposting for the next tee. Be sure to get time to enjoy the after golf in the club house.