The 300 km of coastline that is home to South Africa's famed Garden Route golf courses between Mossel Bay in the west and Plettenberg Bay on the eastern edge is about as picturesque as it gets. The coast is dotted with an excellent selection of courses providing memorable shot values and links-style layouts on the edge of the rugged coastline that truly makes Garden Route golf stand out amongst the rest.
Make sure you mix it up on your visit, combining a selection of understated tracks set snuggly beside tranquil lagoons with the the big name golf courses that have garnered international appraise for over a decade. The result will be an Instagram feed chalked full of snaps from golf Garden Route that drip with beauty. Many take it a step further claiming its South Africa’s version of 17-mile drive at Pebble Beach, but stretching over 300 magical kilometers of golf coastline instead.
The Garden Route can be best classified as an oceanic climate, with warm summers from November to March, and cool winters. It is known to have one of the highest rainfalls of any region in South Africa that can be attributed to northeasterly wind currents off the Indian Ocean that collide with a mountainous coastal region.
When planning a trip to golf in Garden Route make sure you pick one of the many accommodation options in the town of George or Knysna, making it your base for the visit. That will allow you to minimize the driving time to / from the golf courses, giving you an opportunity to explore the numerous shops and restaurants close by.
George is the mature stalwart of the Garden Route golf offering. Founded in 1811, the largest town on the coast has a low key atmosphere and a stated elegance to its golf facilities. Home to the resorts of Fancourt and Oubaai, the town went mainstream in 2003 when it hosted the Presidents Cup that brought international exposure to golf Garden Route.
The hotly contested matches featured an international team captained by Gary Player and a United States side led by Jack Nicklaus that concluded in a historical draw. The matches came down to the wire with an extra holes battle between then number 1 and 2 ranked golfers Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. The match continued well past dusk and produced blockbuster TV ratings introducing the world to golf in the Garden Route. The destination hasn’t looked back since.
Knysna offers a more authentic South African experience with an emphasis on sustainability. You can browse the shops where everything is organically grown and locally sourced. This feel transfers from the main street commercial district to the golf course. Golf Garden Route is not complete without a visit to Pezula and Simola that are the must play tracks for a visiting golfer.
When enjoying a Garden Route golf experience you should also make time to play Pinnacle Point and St Francis Links on the bookends of the drive. Pinnacle Point is a Peter Matkovich designed course in Mossel Bay with cliff hanger golf views. St Francis is a traditional links layout with a friendly staff running this Jack Nicklaus signature design property.
From St Francis Links, the city of Port Elizabeth lies only one hour to the east with an international airport that can provide air connections to almost anywhere you need to fly. If you have time to spare when returning to Port Elizabeth, stop by in Jeffreys Bay on the drive. Not only are there beautiful views, but this is also a world-renowned surf spot with towering waves and shark-prone waters that challenge surfers who paddle out. In July of each year, you can also watch the world’s best surfers congregate here for a World Surf League competition.
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