Top 100 Golf Courses of South Africa 2021
We’ve been ranking courses in South Africa for more than a decade now and this is the 6th edition of our listings for the Rainbow Nation. We expanded our coverage to a Top 100 in 2012 and have since added provincial subdivisions across nine geographical regions within the country which now allows us to feature an additional forty layouts that miss out on a position in the national chart.
Our valued correspondent Stuart McLean, who for many years operated the SA Golf Digest Top 100 when he was editor of the magazine, assists with our efforts to showcase the best golfing tracks in his homeland and we’re grateful for his continued support. Stuart, and others around the country, keeps us up to date with developments that might not get reported in the mainstream media.
And so, without any more of a preamble, it’s time to take a look at our latest chart for South Africa, where 46 courses move up, 41 fall down, 5 remain as they were and 8 new entries replace the same number of drop outs. A few of the upward moves are spectacular and we’ll take a closer look at them later but first let’s salute our new #1 which takes over the top spot from the Links at Fancourt.
Rising one position to No.1, the Country Club course at Durban Country Club has previously been ranked in our World Top 100 so we’ve no doubts about the merits of it being named South Africa's leading golf venue for the first time. At the end of next year, it’ll be exactly 100 years since the course was first set out by leading professionals George Waterman and Laurie Waters so it has truly stood the test of time.
Durban Country Club - Country Club course
Recent favourable review comments for the Country Club course include “this is a great club to visit… the facilities are pretty near perfect… the course is tough but fair, with a great variety of holes… there are undulations that create interest and give a bit of an added dimension… hit it straight and hope the wind isn’t howling… can’t wait to go back!”
Six other courses move upwards in the Top 10, and the most impressive of these advances is made by St Francis Links, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course that first opened for play in 2007, which rises three places to #4. The holes are laid out within a stretch of dunes that runs for kilometres along the coast, with fairways playing to wonderfully contoured greens complexes and beautiful bent grass playing surfaces. Links purists might frown at the water hazards on the property but these are entirely natural, due to the Sand River flowing through the property.
St Francis Links
The other big mover in the upper echelons of the chart is the course at Sishen Golf Club in the mining town of Kathu in Northern Cape, which climbs seven spots to #17 to reverse a fall of seven when we last revised the chart. Laid out within a massive Camelthorn forest on the southern edge of the Kalahari Desert, the course was one of the last designs of Bob Grimsdell in the late 1970s when he was in his 80s. It’s quite a remote place to visit but well worth the effort to get there to play such a unique track.
Sishen Golf Club
Three 18-hole layouts make prodigious strides forward to enter the top half of the standings.
The first member of this trio is the Rocklands course at the Country Club of Johannesburg (up thirty-one spots to #30), host venue for the South African Amateur championship in 2013. Fred Hawtree designed 27 holes for the club in the late 1960s, with eighteen of them designated as the Woodmead course. Fred’s son Martin then added nine holes to his father’s “spare” 9-hole layout in the early 1990s to fashion the Rocklands course and Sean Quinn from Golf Data subsequently upgraded the bunkers and the greens in the new millennium.
Country Club of Johannesburg - Rocklands course
At #31, only one position lower in the chart, the course at Pretoria Country Club soars twenty-six places to its new slot in the standings. The Tshwane Open was played here as a co-sanctioned tournament on the Sunshine Tour and European Tour from 2015 to 2018 and the bent grass greens on all the holes have since been restored. It was described by a reviewer a while back as “a beautiful Old Lady – ‘old’ because it is from 1910, and ‘lady’ because there are no straight lines or sharp corners.”
Pretoria Country Club
Occupying the next rung on the ladder at #32, the course at Clovelly Country Club in Cape Town also leaps ahead with a twenty-place surge. The club dates back to the early 1930s, when Charles Molteno Murray laid out the course for the two owners who’d purchased what was formerly the “Klein Tuin” farm. A reviewer concluded his post after playing here a few months ago by writing: “given the views, the wind, the peacocks, the colour and contrast of the surrounds, this is one course you’ll never get bored of playing.”
Clovelly Country Club
There are also several significant climbers in the bottom half of the table.
The 18-hole layout at Killarney Country Club (up seventeen to #57) is the only Robert Trent Jones-designed course in South Africa. The club was about to lose a large portion of its property in the late 1960s due to the routing of the M1 motorway through Johannesburg so the architect was flown in from America to redesign the eighteen holes. Apparently, he charged the club less than his usual fee on the understanding that other design work would materialize for him but this never happened.
Killarney Country Club
Mbombela Golf Club (up eighteen to #58) was formerly known as Nelspruit up until 2017, when the club changed its title to reflect the renaming of the city eight years earlier. The course dates back to 1939, when Bob Grimsdell planned eighteen holes for the local municipal authority and charged a mere £37 for his efforts. Nine holes were built by 1943 but it took another twenty-five years before the full course was brought into play. Peter Matkovich then upgraded the layout in the late 1990s when the property was redeveloped for residential purposes.
Mbombela Golf Club
The course at St Francis Bay Golf Club (up twenty-four to #75) was doubled in size to its current eighteen holes in the late 1990s, with all the upgrade work financed by members who injected capital into the project by purchasing life memberships. The course continues to thrive, two decades on, with a reviewer at the end of last year calling it “a fun course to play… in decent condition and good bent grass greens… quite a short course with some interest and intriguing holes… perfect for fun holiday golf.”
St Francis Bay Golf Club
Centurion Country Club (up nineteen to #79) boasts a Peter Matkovich design from the late 1990s as part of a large golf estate between Sandton and Pretoria, with water coming into play on more than half the holes. The club decided to re-sequence the closing holes on both nines a couple of years ago so the old 8th and 9th are now the 17th and 18th, which makes for an exciting finish with an island green on the new penultimate hole and a risk-reward short par four for the home hole.
There are eight new entries in the listings, led by Goldfields West Golf Club at #76. It’s yet another design from the prolific Bob Grimsdell, who set out the course for the local mine in the late 1940s. With holes routed around a nature reserve, not a lot has changed here in more than seventy years. The property was bought by long-time club member Hans Vierra recently and he has provided much-needed investment for both the clubhouse and the course.
|1||Durban (Country Club)||Up 1|
|2||Fancourt (Links)||Down 1|
|4||St Francis Links||Up 3|
|5||Leopard Creek||Down 2|
|6||Royal Johannesburg & Kensington (East)||No change|
|10||The River Club||Up 2|
|11||Gary Player||Down 6|
|12||Fancourt (Montagu)||Down 3|
|13||East London||Up 1|
|14||Pearl Valley||Up 3|
|15||Blair Atholl||Down 2|
|19||Highland Gate||Up 1|
|20||Fancourt (Outeniqua)||Up 3|
|22||Steyn City||Up 5|
|23||Pinnacle Point||Up 2|
|27||Johannesburg (Woodmead)||Down 1|
|29||Royal Johannesburg & Kensington (West).||No change|
|30||Johannesburg (Rocklands)||Up 31|
|34||Wild Coast||Down 18|
|35||Prince's Grant||Up 10|
|37||Randpark (Firethorn)||Down 7|
|39||Durban (Beachwood)||Up 2|
|40||Gowrie Farm||Up 13|
|43||Eye of Africa||Down 10|
|44||De Zalze||Down 8|
|45||Lost City||Down 10|
|47||Serengeti (Masai Mara)||Down 15|
|49||Champagne Sports||Down 15|
|51||Royal Cape||Down 3|
|52||Cotswold Downs||Down 13|
|53||Plettenberg Bay||Down 6|
|55||Hermanus (East)||Down 1|
|56||Wingate Park||Up 11|
|61||Randpark (Bushwillow)||Up 2|
|65||Atlantic Beach||Up 13|
|68||King David Mowbray||Up 7|
|69||Mount Edgecombe (The Woods)||Up 1|
|70||Umdoni Park||Up 12|
|71||San Lameer||Down 12|
|72||Els Club - Copperleaf||Down 29|
|75||St Francis Bay||Up 24|
|76||Goldfields West||New entry|
|77||Silver Lakes||Down 12|
|80||Eagle Canyon||New entry|
|85||Royal Port Alfred||New entry|
|88||Goose Valley||Up 3|
|91||State Mines||Up 9|
|96||Bosch Hoek||Down 7|
|98||Mossel Bay||Down 14|
|100||Huddle Park||New entry|
To view the complete detailed list of our latest Top 100 Golf Courses of South Africa click the link.
Top 100 Golf Courses