15 Best Golf Courses in South Africa

South Africa is home to 465 affiliated golf clubs with around 140,000 registered golfers. Its natural beauty and warm climate combined with the rich golfing culture make it one of the best spots for golf enthusiasts in the world.

See our top 15 courses in South Africa list based on our extensive research, third party and player reviews as well as the opinion of our very own scholars of the game.

Best South African Courses

1. Fancourt Links

  • Location: George, Western Cape
  • Date Established: 2000
  • Course Architect: Gary Player, Phil Jacobs, Dr Hasso Plattner ([email protected])
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Recognized as a Certified Audubon Cooperation Sanctuary for its contribution to environmental sustainability.

The Links at Fancourt is an exclusive club that has no more than 60 members. It is available to members, accompanied guests as well as a limited number of hotel guests that abide to the minimum stay requirements.

It is hard to believe that this amazing piece of architecture was sculpted out of a piece of land that was once a flat and unimpressive airfield. The course was inspired by many of the top Links in the world, including St Andrews, and is described by Gary Player as his “greatest feat as a course designer”.

Fancourt Links has hosted some popular tournaments amongst professionals including the President’s Cup (2003), the SA Open (2005) and the Volvo Golf Champions European Tour.

The course proves to be a challenge to even the most experienced golfer. There are however, different tee boxes to compensate for difficulty making it slightly more playable for the higher handicappers.

2. Leopard Creek

Leopard-Creek-Golf-Course-South-Africa

Photo by Leopard Creek

  • Location: Malalane, Mpumalanga
  • Date Established: 1995
  • Course Architect: Gary Player ([email protected])
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Annual host of the Alfred Dunhill Challenge on the European Tour

Leopard Creek is no different to many of the other courses designed by Gary Player in that the natural environment is preserved as much as possible. This comes as a relief as it is situated directly adjacent to one of Africa’s largest nature reserves.

Guests are often treated to some special animal sightings that make golf at Leopard Creek a unique experience.

The course is private and reserved for members and their guests only. There are however, limited tee times available to guests staying at certain nearby lodges, albeit at a hefty price of R4,000 ($286).

The facilities available to all golfers match are on par of what one would expect of a luxury golf club. The clubhouse boasts an impressive collection of golf memorabilia and the practice areas are pristine.

Although the course is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, it may come across more intimidating on television than it is in reality. Leisure golfers are able to hold their own when playing off the regular tees as the course is relatively straightforward.

3. Gary Player

  • Location: Sun City
  • Date Established: 1978
  • Course Architect: Gary Player
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Built in an extinct volcanic crater

The Gary Player Golf Course at Sun City is the annual host of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, an important feature on the calendar of PGA European Tour Professionals.

Gary Player Course is without a doubt the best, of two, courses within the ‘Las Vegas-Styled’ resort of Suncity.

The course is one of the longest in the country, extending over 7000 meters and boasts a healthy amount of strategically placed hazards around the greens. Long hitters who are able to control their approach shots will fair well during a round of 18 holes at Gary Player.

4. Durban (Country Club)

  • Location: Durban, KwaZulu Natal
  • Date Established: 1922
  • Course Architect: George Waterman and Laurie Waters
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact:Third hole is rated the best third in the world.

Durban Country Club has hosted the SA Open 17 times which is testament to the respect that the course has amongst the golfing community.

The Country Club boasts a wealth of tradition, beautiful views of the Indian ocean and undulating fairways. Combinations that easily make for a unique and testing round of golf.

The layout is universally considered to be one the finest in the country which is a reason the course ranks highly year of year. Many believe that the first five holes offer one of “the best starts in golf”.

Situated very close to the ocean, wind is a factor that golfers must be able to contend with in order to score well.

This semi-links styled course is open to the public but due to its popularity, it is strongly advised to book accommodation and tee off times in advance.

5. Humewood

  • Location: Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
  • Date Established: 1931
  • Course Architect: Colonel Stafford Vere Hotchkin
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: It was originally a par 76 with eight par 5’s. Four of these holes have since been transformed into par 4’s.

Golfing legend Bobby Locke knows a good course when he sees one. He referred to Humewood as “the top course in South Africa” and also considered it to compete with top links courses in the British Isle.

The wide fairways are typical of a links layout, a characteristic adopted to compensated for the ever-present wind as a result of bordering the ocean.

The greens are extremely firm and fast which requires top class putting if you want to find the hole in less than 3 putts.

The coastal bush that makes for thick rough on either side of the fairways punishes stray drives. Straight tee shots are imperative if you plan on finding your ball.

Humewood is easily one of the toughest courses in the country but if you are looking for a challenge, it is the perfect place to stop.

6. Royal Johannesburg and Kensington (East Championship)

  • Location: Johannesburg, Gauteng
  • Date Established: 1939
  • Course Architect: Robert Grimsdell
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: One of the longest courses played on the European Tour.

Royal J & K has recently undergone renovations that has catapulted the course up the rankings.

The East Course is definitely a class above the West and the facilities on and off the course are in immaculate condition.

The bunkers, that were once its biggest downfall, have now been upgraded and contend with the very best in the world.

The course exceeds 7000 meters in length and it is fair to say that the big hitters have an advantage over the rest.

Facilities include a driving range, chipping area and putting green to dial in your stroke before you set foot on the course.

7. St Francis Links

  • Location: Saint Francis Bay, Eastern Cape
  • Date Established: 2006
  • Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The clubhouse is perhaps the best in the country.

A ‘true links’ has also been a bone of contention amongst the golfing community and the characteristics that one should possess is an ongoing debate.

St Francis Links is situated on the coast with tumbling terrain but that is where the ‘links-like’ characteristics stop.

The course does not have bent grass and it also has large water bodies included in the layout. Both characteristics that are not typical of a links.

Putting the real classification aside, it is still a world class golf course that provides golfers with everything you want out of one. Facilities include a stunning spa, beautiful walks around the complex and a restaurant that will have you coming back for more.

8. Pearl Valley

  • Location: Between Paarl and Franshoek, Western Cape
  • Date Established: 2000
  • Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Regarded as the “best conditioned course” by Golf Digest for the past 9 years (2010-2019)

Pearl Valley is the epitome of a classy golf course with its white bunkers contrasting the rich green of the fairways.

The course is situated within the Drakenstein Mountains and is as picturesque as one gets.

With wide fairways and big greens, the course may seem straightforward but water hazards and a fair number of bunkers makes it interesting for any golfer.

Pearl Valley has hosted the South African Open three consecutive years, the first one being in 2007.

The club is open to visitors however has limited tee-times and booking in advance is crucial.

9. Glendower

  • Location: Johannesburg, Gauteng
  • Date Established: 1935
  • Course Architect: Charles Hugh Alison
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Hosted the South African Open 5 consecutive years from 2013-2017.

Glendower is a perfect example of a ‘parklands’ golf course. Situated in the middle of the city of Jo’burg, it is a must-do for someone in need of an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city but can’t travel too far.

The only real challenge around the entire course are the bunkers. Succeed in avoiding the strategically placed sand and you will be rewarded with a good score.

The climate of the Highveld is considered to be the best in the country and is conducive to good golf all year round.

The club welcomes visitors, except on Saturdays when they play their members competition.

10. Fancourt Montagu

  • Location: George, Western Cape
  • Date Established: 1994
  • Course Architect: Gary Player, David McLay Kidd
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Original course at Fancourt.

Montagu often lives in the shadow of its younger counterpart, The Links at Fancourt, but is still a top golf course in its own right.

Set at the foot of the Outeniqua Mountains and lined with beautiful trees, golfers are immersed in the thrills that nature has to offer.

As a result of upgrades done to the course in 2018, less bunkers and wider fairways makes for a more enjoyable experience for the average golfer.

Unlike The Links at Fancourt, that is only available to members’ guests and hotel guests, Montague is open to day visitors. It Is however vital to book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Golfers are welcome to use the same warm up area and putting green that is available to the players at The Links.

11. Arabella

arabella golf 18th

Par 5, 18th hole at Arabella

  • Location: Western Cape
  • Date Established: 1998
  • Course Architect: Peter Matkovich
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: The par 5, 8th hole has been rated the most beautiful hole in South Africa.

The philosophy of Matkovich is that “God and nature shape the design” and it is obvious that this outlook was adopted when designing Arabella. The course lies in-between the Bot River and Mount Hebron Nature Reserve and the ecosystems of both have been preserved.

Strategically placed bunkers protect the lagoon that runs adjacent to the course and as a result, golf and nature are able to live in perfect harmony.

The course is not too difficult and even average golfers are able to score well.

Arabella is situated just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town, the tourist hub of the Western Cape, and offers a welcomed escape from the buzzing sound of the city.

12. The River Club

river club johannesburg

  • Location: Johannesburg, Gauteng
  • Date Established: 1967
  • Course Architect: Robert Grimsdell
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: First exclusive course in South Africa.

The River Club is a closed golf course and the exclusivity rivals none other in the country. Getting the opportunity to play it is hard to come by.

Those fortunate enough to be invited are very seldom disappointed as the course is always kept in immaculate condition.

The fact that the course limits the size of the field each day, golfers are able to play at their own pace. Considering the pace of play in South Africa is generally quite slow, this comes as a breathe of fresh air. You are able to line up your shot and take your time if you wish but also don’t have to wait for people at each tee box.

The grass used for the fairways is indigenous Kikuyu grass which is soft. The greens are planted with bent grass which offers a true putting experience.

The River Club is considered to have one of the most challenging finishing holes in the country and getting a par on the last three holes proves to be a challenge to even the most experienced golfers.

13. Blair Atholl

  • Location: North Johannesburg, Gauteng
  • Date Established: 2007
  • Course Architect: Gary Player
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: One of the longest courses in the world, spanning over 8000 meters.

Gary Players’ home for 20 years was once on the land that is now the beautiful golf course of Blair Atholl. He therefore had a lot of time to plan a world class golf course before making it a reality.

Blair Atholl offers a unique golfing experience and is as far from a traditional golf course as you can get.

Discounting the opening and closing holes that run parallel to one another, the rest of the holes are entirely isolated. No other golfers can be seen on any hole and you feel as if you’re the only golfer out there.

The fact that every hole stands on its own, one is able to appreciate the layout and beauty of each one respectively.

The facilities around the club are just as impressive as the actual course and provides the golfer a luxury golfing experience.

Blair Atholl is a private course and playing here as a visitor is only possible after receiving an invitation from a member.

14. East London Golf Club

  • Location: East London, Eastern Cape
  • Date Established: 1893
  • Course Architect: Colonel Stafford Vere Hotchkin
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: One of the oldest Golf Clubs in South Africa.

The position of the ELG course has changed three times, the latest of the changes occurring in the 1920s. The current course is named ‘Bunkers Hill’ and is the home to one of the oldest golf clubs in South Africa.

As the course is located close to the ocean, wind is an inevitable natural phenomenon that golfers must contend with.

Many greens are elevated and protected by bunkers which makes attacking golf seem intimidating for golfers of any caliber.

ELGC has hosted many professional tournaments and perhaps the most notable is the first African Open, a stop on the European Tour.

15. George Golf Course

  • Location: George, Western Cape
  • Date Established: 1906
  • Course Architect: Dr Charles Molteno Murray
  • Highlight / Interesting Fact: Spectacular landscape surrounding the course.

George is the most affordable of the top courses in the country and it is therefore no surprise that it is super busy.

A lot of ‘traffic’ on the course should be expected when booking a tee time. But the slow pace of play is perhaps its only downfall. The time spent waiting for fairways to be cleared can be used to appreciate the beautiful scenery around.

The condition of the course is excellent with slick greens and well-manicured fairways. It is perhaps the best “value-for-money’ golf round you will find.

George is situated along the famous Garden Route and it is a perfect stop over on a road trip.

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.

1 Comment
  1. 3 Links courses in top 10 , St Francis the most difficult, ive played all except River Club.

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