Royal Port Al­fred

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Promotion -

There are two al­ter­nate routes for mo­torists driv­ing the 300 kilo­me­tres from Port Elizabeth to East Lon­don. The in­land N2 takes you via Gra­ham­stown, and the coastal R72 goes via Port Al­fred, home to one of South Africa’s four Royal clubs. It’s the mid­way point of the jour­ney. In a town that is home to many re­tirees, the Royal Port Al­fred lay­out hasn’t changed much in the 100 years plus since it was built. Records are not ex­act, but the course was opened in 1907 and may be our old­est in ex­is­tence. Older golf clubs gen­er­ally moved sites, but not RPA.

The holes are stag­gered over un­du­lat­ing ter­rain, al­low­ing mag­nif­i­cent ocean views, and hav­ing been built in an age of horse-drawn im­ple­ments, they are de­cid­edly quirky in places. No 10, the Whale’s Back, is an ex­tra­or­di­nary par 4, climb­ing the side of a hill. It’s these un­usual holes, and their de­scrip­tive names, which gives Royal Port Al­fred so much charm River, with a mod­ern ma­rina, and there are sev­eral rivers to cross be­tween here and East Lon­don.The Fish River is first, and soon af­ter­wards is the Fish River Sun re­sort, home to a Gary Player course from the late 1980s. Once pop­u­lar as a gam­ing venue, it has lost its sparkle since the casino went to PE.The course is fre­quently used for pro­vin­cial and na­tional tour­na­ments, mainly be­cause it is empty most of the time. Fish River is not one of Gary’s bet­ter de­signs. Right on the coast, it has not a sin­gle sea view. Un­nec­es­sar­ily long, bor­ing holes make it the an­tithe­sis of what a re­sort course should be about.

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