Wild Coast Sun Country Club – another of the popular vacation destinations owned by the Sun International Leisure Group of Hotels, Resorts and Casinos – is laid out within a 1,800-acre estate on the edge of the Eastern Cape, overlooking the Indian Ocean, near Port Edward.
Constructed by Robert Trent Jones II in 1983, it remains the only course designed in South Africa by the American golf architect and it’s routed over terrain in keeping with the coastline around this part of the Cape; wild, rugged and spectacular.
Set in natural bush between the Umtamvuna and Mzamba rivers, Wild Coast Sun’s fairways rise and fall then twist and turn throughout its 6,400-yard length, presenting especially challenging holes at the six par three holes on the scorecard.
The par five 12th "Green Mamba" is rated one of the best 18 holes in South Africa, with the tee shot played from an elevated tee toward a cascading waterfall from where the fairway then cuts through a valley towards the kidney-shaped green and, when you’ve putted out, there’s a small funicular railway to transport you up the steep slope behind the green to the next tee! Many consider the 12th hole alone is worth the two-hour drive south from Durban to play Wild Coast. And if that's not enough, the book 500 world’s greatest golf holes by author George Peper and the editors of GOLF magazine features the 146-yard par three 13h at Wild Coast:
“The 1997 Wild Coast Challenge, a South African PGA event, saw how fickle winds can render this hole’s seemingly innocuous yardage meaningless. Players hit anything from punch five irons to three quarter wedges on this hole to adapt to the changing conditions, knowing that shots missing this green can land in all sorts of trouble. The ‘jungle’ is the most obvious hazard, but a rear bunker, giving way to another cluster of knotted vegetation, can be nearly as distressing.”
I was looking forward with excitement to play Wild Cost Sun, mainly because of its’ architect Robert Trent Jnr. But on this course I didn’t see any of his fingerprints. Or maybe I am wrong. He likes long stretches of fairways following the nature, garnished with elongated bunkers left or right and boomerang shaped bunkers to mark doglegs. By here the nature will only allow you to construct fairways like that in a very few places. It’s a very hilly course, you can’t walk but need a golf cart. From many greens to the next tee you wouldn’t have a clue of where to go next, if there wasn’t a signpost. There is absolutely no flow playing the course. And for many holes, if you don’t hit the green or fairway your chances of finding your ball are small and if you find it, playing it will most likely be impossible.
But if you want to have a great day on a golf course full of surprises, placed in a fantastic landscape, here and there with a beautiful view over the ocean and if you are playing just for fun and accept to lose a few balls either in a ravine or to a baboon, then you should go. It is a very unusual golf experience.
Even though this course is slowly sliding down the South African rankings, I still think its a great venue, Layout is spectacular, very interesting holes all the way around.
I live in the UK now, but look forward to coming back here and playing it again.
If you can make your way to this slightly out of the way destination, you will not be disappointed.