Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents 12/ 14 - Ara­bella is part of the lux­ury African Pride Ho­tels col­lec­tion.

Ara­bella will be look­ing bet­ter than usual this sum­mer.

The Ara­bella golf re­sort in the Western Cape will be bet­ter pre­pared than ever this sum­mer for the hot and dry weather con­di­tions ex­pected over the com­ing months. In­vest­ment in a R10-mil­lion state-of-theart ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem, which was switched on for the first time at the end of last year, should re­sult in a course which is more su­perbly man­i­cured than ever.

A fea­ture of the new sys­tem is that it can be con­trolled re­motely, even from an iPad if nec­es­sary. The ir­ri­ga­tion now cov­ers the ar­eas which pre­vi­ously dried out in the sum­mer, lend­ing even more beauty and play- able ar­eas to this course, ranked No 5 in Golf Di­gest’s cur­rent Top 100, which over­looks the Bot River La­goon.

Ara­bella has un­der­gone sev­eral de­sign changes at the same time, no­tably a new look to the short par-4

16th hole which is part of a mag­nif­i­cent fin­ish­ing stretch of holes. Course de­signer Peter Matkovich was called in to look at the bunker­ing on the lay­out, and also im­prove the gen­eral playa­bil­ity of the 16th which would largely elim­i­nate the risk of golf balls be­ing hooked into ad­join­ing prop­er­ties.

Ara­bella is a re­sort/es­tate course, where the hous­ing is set well back from the fair­ways, but the risk-an­dreward 16th has been a prob­lem area in re­cent years. It chal­lenged golfers on both sides of a nar­row fair­way, and the re­sult was a num­ber of loose shots head­ing for the houses on the left.

A new el­e­vated tee box on the left side of the hole, and a wider fair­way land­ing area on the right, now en­cour­ages you to play your tee shot down the right side of the hole, almost in the shape of a dog­leg. The fair­way has also been lev­elled, so balls no longer bounce ea­gerly to­wards the bound­ary fence on the right.

Ara­bella is renowned for its strong set of fin­ish­ing holes. In terms of both aes­thet­ics and re­sis­tance to scor­ing, few cour­ses in South Africa can match the four clos­ing holes from 15 to 18. This is a stretch where it’s best to get out of the golf cart and walk as much as pos­si­ble to en­joy it. Let your part­ner do the driv­ing!

It be­gins with the long down­hill 389-me­tre 15th, one of the tough­est par 4s on the course, with out-of-bounds all the way down the right. After that, the short 308-me­tre 16th, with its large green, of­fers a good birdie chance if you can find the fair­way. The 17th is one of South Africa’s best par 3s, de­mand­ing a pow­er­ful tee shot (175m) to a well-bunkered green which stands el­e­vated above the edge of the la­goon. Around the cor­ner of a hill­side sits the tee of the par-5 18th (515 me­tres), and the fi­nal chal­lenge of the round. There’s a gen­er­ously wide fair­way, and the holes curves right fol­low­ing the shore of the la­goon. The fyn­bos bor­der­ing the la­goon is off lim­its to golfers, be­ing a lat­eral haz­ard, but Matkovich has kindly built a long, nar­row bunker which fol­lows the right edge of the fair­way all the way to the green, of­fer­ing a bar­rier against dis­as­ter.

The new look par- 4 16th hole.

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