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Featured Courses - Regions

East London Golf Club
Course Opened
– 1923
Designers – George Peck, Colonel S.V. Hotchkin

One of South Africa’s oldest golf clubs, East London’s current course is a charming layout built amongst thick native bush on fabulous coastal duneland along the Eastern Cape. Reminiscent of other heavily wooded seaside courses such as Newcastle in Australia, it was designed by George Peck and Colonel S.V. Hotchkin and opened shortly after the First World War.

The strength of their course is the front nine which tumbles wildly across beautifully rolling ridges, the unconventional routing heading into and around the dunes, plunging down valleys and over hills to hidden targets. There are probably a few too many short par fours for the modern golfer’s liking, but those early on are genuinely fun to play and only offer up birdies to players taking an aggressive line from the tee. Holes like 1, 3, 4 and 5 are all terrific while the 9th is a cracking hole that heads over a large crest then down and left through a pronounced bush-lined valley. On the back nine the 12th is a standout and follows a similar shape but rises toward the coast and offers players great views of the nearby Indian Ocean. Elsewhere the short 17th is a fabulous par three and although most of the other closing holes are fairly ordinary they fail to tarnish a tremendous day’s golf.

In terms of topography and quality, East London is a real roller coaster and is the sort of high class, unpretentious golf course that South Africa desperately needs more of.

Atlantic Beach Golf Club
Course Opened
– 2000
Designer – Mark Muller
Picture by David Scaletti

Atlantic Beach is a unique and heavily developed golf and residential estate north of Cape Town that is built on rolling sandy terrain and enjoys superb views across Table Bay to the city’s famed Table Mountain. While most new developments are compromised by the prevalence of golf on unsuitable ground, here the golf land is pure, the holes routed over a series of small dunes and cut through corridors of thick indigenous coastal shrub, known as fynbos. Unfortunately this fynbos is protected and off fairway areas are actually treated as lateral hazards and out of bounds for stray golfers. As many fairways are narrow, driving under the typically windy conditions is therefore very demanding. The 4th hole, for instance, is a particularly nasty experience as it is played over a scrubby dune to a hidden fairway with out of bounds down both sides.

Though the fairway grass is not as keen as a fine fescue, the course does play firm and bouncy like a links and holes alter character with every wind change. Charmingly the par five 15th is almost driveable downwind while the unusual half punchbowl 17th could be played successfully with a putter. Equally memorable are the short 5th and 12th holes for their Table Mountain backdrops and the 10th, a brilliant driving hole across a valley to a crested fairway that flirts with a disused sand quarry. There are also a number of sporty greens including the half hidden 9th and 17th and the severely tilted 6th and 15th.

While the unfortunate dune restrictions and invasive housing prevent Atlantic Beach from reaching loftier heights, of the modern estate courses in Africa this is definitely one of the best.