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Top 100 Golf Courses of South Africa 2016

13 May, 2016
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Top 100 Golf Courses of South Africa 2016

We announce the third biennial revision of our South African Top 100 ranking chart

Two years ago, when we last updated our South African Top 100 chart, we stated, “this latest list will raise a few eyebrows”. Well, the results of the 2016 re-ranking exercise for the Rainbow Nation will do that and a lot more besides because there’s plenty of movement in our new chart – indeed, only two courses hold onto the same position as last time.

We don’t know the statistical probability of that happening, actually. Suffice to say, bringing an ever-increasing number of different data streams into the process appears to be at least partly responsible for the volatility of our current chart and it might take another revision or two for the relative positions to settle down a little.

So, onto our 2016 listings and it’s all change at the top, where three 18-hole layouts all leapfrog over our long standing No.1 course, Gary Player’s Leopard Creek, which is situated on the edge of the Kruger National Park. The course’s relatively prosaic front nine holes are a bit of a let-down for the more well-travelled golfers who’ve played the course and this may well have been a deciding factor in the course taking a tumble from the top perch.

Rising one place to the new number 1 position, the Links course at Fancourt Hotel & Country Club is another Gary Player design that opened for play a couple of years before it hosted the Presidents Cup in 2003. Eight straight 6-ball reviews on the Top 100 website tell its own story and the latest reviewer to play here describes the Links course as “right up there with the very best courses I have played around the world”.

Shooting up five places to the runner-up position, Durban Country Club returns to the number 2 spot that it held when we first established our South African chart in 2008. Our US Consultant Fergal O’Leary played there eight months ago when he completed his challenge of playing all of GOLF Magazine’s World’s Top 100 Golf Courses and he summed up his views of Durban by saying: “for keen golfers around the world, a round at the Durban Country Club is an experience not to be missed”.

At number 3 in our new chart, rising two places, the Gary Player course at the Sun City Resort is another Black Knight design that returns to its inaugural chart position of eight years ago. The home of the Nedbank Golf Challenge since 1981, this fabulous course is instantly recognisable to golfers around the world who follow on television every year the exploits of a limited field of invited professionals competing for a huge prize pot.

Two other courses make significant upward moves at the top end of the new standings. The first one is Humewood, near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, soaring eleven places to number 7 and this 1929 design from SV Hotchkin – the only true links in all of Africa – is one that has flown under the radar of many golfers for a long time now. The second layout is the very private Millvale course in Koster – which was a new entry in our 2014 chart at number 14 – and it climbs a further four places to number 10. Perhaps we’ll receive our first review for this remarkable course before our next biennial update?

A little further down the rankings, the remote Northern Cape course of Sishen (Robert Grimsdell’s last design from the late 1970s) lies close to the Kalahari desert in the mining town of Kathu and it leaps an impressive nine places to number 17. Moving up five to number 20, the old course at East London is actually the club’s third layout, having been established thirty years after the club was formed by SV Hotchkin and George Peck in 1923.

In fact, it’s rather appropriate that East London, Humewood and Durban Country Club should all feature so prominently in our listings as they’ve all played a very important part in the development of golf in South Africa. Remarkably, they’ve hosted a total of sixty national championships between them (twenty-nine SA Opens and thirty-one SA Amateurs) so they’ve collectively formed the foundation of the nation’s golfing traditions since the 1920s.

In the bottom half of the Top 100, a handful of courses make double digit leaps up the table: Pretoria (up fifteen to 54) was upgraded by Gary Player in 2004, Victoria (up nineeen to 65) had its greens rebuilt by Golf Data a decade ago, Mount Edgecombe (No.1) (up eighteen to 69) is an early 1990s redesign from Hugh Baiocchi, Dainfern (up twenty-seven to 71) was co-designed by Gary Player and Phil Jacobs in 1991 and San Lameer (up twenty to 77) is an early 1990s offering from the country’s most prolific modern architect, Peter Matkovich.

There are six new entries in our latest chart, the highest two of which appear in the top third of our national table. At number 29, we have the golf course at Steyn City, and this Jack Nicklaus-designed layout, which only opened last year, is the centrepiece of a massive residential development to the north of Johannesburg. At number 33, the new course at Highland Gate Golf & Trout Estate also makes a noteworthy debut in the South African Top 100. Nestled in the Steenkampsberg mountain range near Dullstroom, it’s the latest layout to come from the bourgeoning design portfolio of Ernie Els.

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We always welcome your thoughts when we carry out our national re-rankings so feel free to let us know what you think if you have a strong opinion about our updated South African chart. Which courses have we missed out on or perhaps we’ve included one that really doesn’t deserve to be featured? Maybe there’s one sitting too high in the listings or one lying too low? Whatever you’re thinking, please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page if you’d like to get in touch with us.

Click the link to see full details of our 2016 Top 100 Golf Courses in South Africa

Jim McCann
Editor
Top 100 Golf Courses

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