Arabella Golf Course Review

arabella golf course review

Arabella Golf Club was opened in 1998 and is situated just over an hours drive from Cape Town in South Africa.

Designed by legendary South African course designer Peter Matkovich, Arabella is flanked by the Bot River on one side and Mount Hebron nature reserve on the other.

Arabella Golf Course

Overall Review

8.8 Total Score

Arabella offers a fantastic mix of both short and long holes, doglegs and minor elevation changes. There is plenty of bunkering as well as water hazards that keep you on your toes. Magnificent course conditioning and manicuring always make a round here a treat.

Layout
8
Conditioning
9.5
Playability
9
Facilities
8.5
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Highlights

  • Beautiful views and scenery.
  • 5 star service from staff, especially if one stays in the hotel.
  • Arabella is always in superb condition.

Cost

  • Arabella is open to all golfers. It is not restricted to hotel guests only. Green fees are approximately $100-$125 (depending on currency fluctuations) and includes a cart with GPS.
  • Hotel guests qualify for discounted green fee rates.
  • The course is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
  • There are Winter 4 Ball special deals available on certain days of the week.

Pace Of Play

  • Slow (allow 4:45-5 hours for 18 holes). Pace of play in South Africa is generally quite slow.
  • Carts are not mandatory, but there are relatively big walks between green and tee, so we recommend taking a cart.

Course Par and Overall Yardage

Par Ladies Silver (Seniors) Gold (Club) Black (Championship)
72 5,107m 5,403m 6,082m 6,381m

Quick Facts

Course Details Arabella Golf Club
Address P.O. Box 788 Kleinmond 7195, South Africa. Take the R44 to Kleinmond.
Tel No. +27 28 284 0105
Website www.arabellacountryestate.co.za
Course Architect Peter Matkovich
Golf Director Michael Munro

Arabella Detailed Review

Arabella burst onto the scene in the late 90’s and has had a phenomenal reputation since day one.

Besides the world class golf course (it is frequently ranked in the top 10 in South Africa), Arabella has a 5 star hotel and spa that boasts a number of restaurants and facilities making your stay just that little bit more memorable.

The original layout was carved out of stony farmland by Matkovich and plenty of clearing needed to be done to create this gem of a design. There was an enormous amount of earth moving that took place as well as felling of invasive trees that crowded the area.

Arabella has hosted the Nelson Mandela Invitational hosted by Gary Player between 2000 – 2006. The event then became the Gary Player Invitational which spent another two years at Arabella.

It has also hosted a number of Sunshine Tour events although it is highly unlikely it would host any big event due to the slight lack of practice facilities in particular.

arabella golf 8th back

8th hole green, a tough Par 5 wedged between long fairway bunkers and water both sides.

Layout

At 6381 meters (6980 yards) off the tips being a Par 72, the layout is fairly short by modern standards. A traditional mixture of four par 3’s and four par 5’s along with ten par 4’s are fairly easy, provided the dreaded south easterly winds don’t blow.

Despite the course being relatively short, the par 3’s actually provide a stern test even for a professional golfer. The shortest of them is 160 meters and the balance measure between 175 to 200 meters.

The par 4’s are an eclectic mix of both long and short (a couple of them being drivable for the longer hitter) as well as doglegs either way, so it doesn’t necessarily favour a drawer or fader of the golf ball. As with most well designed golf courses there is a premium on accuracy off the tee with a number of hazards and out of bounds flanking the fairways. Whilst most of the holes are flat there are a handful that have elevation changes creating a good test in depth perception and judging the elements.

Conditioning

Arabella has always been known for its magnificent manicuring and course conditioning. This particular element is critical in a golfers experience and Arabella doesn’t disappointed.

Fairways that are well knitted and have superb grass coverage, bunker edging that has been trimmed on a regular basis, bent grass fringes that surround each green and are as smooth as the greens themselves.

Bunker sand is perfectly white and compact providing good lies more often than not and lastly the greens run like a billiard table. Just superb.

arabella golf 15th

15th Hole at Arabella

Playability

Measuring only 6381 meters off the tips and more like 6150 off club tees, Arabella does provide fair playability for all skill levels.

Practically all of the holes allow for a run up to the green on approach and don’t demand a long carry to safety whether that be to fairway or green.

Fairly generous fairways and greens don’t add that additional pressure of having to strike the ball perfectly each and every time.

Facilities

When combining the hotel, spa and golf course, the overall facilities are fantastic – truly 5 star!

However, in terms of the golf course facilities, these are slightly disappointing, particularly for the more serious golfer. Whilst there is a driving range, it only measures a maximum of 220 metres and doesn’t allow you to hit long irons, fairway woods or drivers. There is a large putting green and chipping green, but no greenside bunker to hit out of before teeing it up.

That being said, the pro shop is exquisite and provides a wide array of apparel, accessories and memorabilia.

Favourite Hole

One standout hole is the par five 18th. A visually enticing and intimidating hole that runs parallel to the Bot River back towards the hotel.

A fairway bunker runs all the way up the righthand side and fynbos protects the left off the tee. Two good shots and it allows even the higher handicapper a shot at birdie, but stray offline and that will turn into a bogey. Spectacular yet challenging.

arabella golf 18th

Par 5, 18th hole at Arabella

Least Favourite Hole

While there are no really bad holes, the 1st Hole is slightly on the weak side. A very short par 4 up the hill with a wide fairway and slight dogleg left. There are no fairway bunkers or green side bunkers, just a false front and that falls off to the left. A generous start to the round.

Toughest Hole

The par four third is the toughest hole on the course. Measuring at 420 metres off the tips and into the prevailing wind, the dogleg left has water running all the way up the left from tee to green and catches many a golf ball. Narrow entrance to the green provides a tough up and down to save par or bogey.

Paul hit his first golf shot at the age of 5, and from that point on was immediately hooked. He went on to become one of the leading amateurs in South Africa, securing a full golf scholarship with the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. Turning professional in 2004, Paul played extensively on the Sunshine Tour and co-sanctioned European Tour events. Paul is our lead editor at Golf Assessor.

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