THE WORLD’S MOST DIVERSE RANKING
We celebrate 20 years of ranking our best 100 courses in this issue, and no other list in the world can be more diverse than South Africa’s. From No 1 to No 100 we have a mix of everything you can nd in golf, courses that suit the serious high-end golfer or cater for the casually dressed novice. Some have bag drops and others just a bar where you can drop your weary body afterwards. You can pay extravagantly for the experience or next to nothing. We have demanding championship layouts and those which are 2 000 metres shorter to play. Fun, it must be stressed, can be had on both. And we even have a 9-holer for the rst time.
At the summit of the rankings we have world-class layouts – three of which, Fancourt Links, Leopard Creek and Durban CC were included in Golf Digest’s most recent World 100 Greatest Courses – while 80-90 places below are a mixed assortment of clubs which are still proud of being part of the Top 100 and have raised their standards accordingly.
Royal Johannesburg & Kensington have relaunched their East Course, and presented an exciting vision of what a quality golf club property should look like. Every club manager/golf director in Gauteng would bene t from paying Royal a visit.
It’s not just the wealthy clubs upgrading. Top 100 newcomer Durbanville have invested in numerous projects to transform their layout. “Our clubhouse is tatty but no one seems to care as long as the course is great,” were the words of a committee member.
Those clubs which strive hard to improve have been rewarded, and the task of a Golf Digest rater today is to evaluate the changing quality. There are seven new entries this year, ranging from the exclusive Club at Steyn City in Gauteng to the quirky Royal Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape.
Sadly, due to the economy and prohibitive maintenance costs, many clubs continue to struggle. North West is a depressed region, and Stilfontein, Bloemhof and Stella have closed. Their memberships were negligible. Neglected Top 100 courses cannot maintain adequate conditioning. Legend in Limpopo, with its added Extreme 19th attraction, has tumbled down the rankings as a result, and Rustenburg in the North West was omitted.
However, there are also uplifting stories, like Gold elds West (Page 74), which has risen upwards after being in liquidation a year ago. The game is seeing casualties, but the bigger picture is far from doom and gloom.
Clubs in parts of the Western Cape are enduring a water crisis (Page 28), yet the region racked up more than a million rounds in 2017 and the popularity of their courses has been seemingly una ected. The Garden Route, with its choice of fabulous venues, is proving a magnet for international tourists from January to March.
Hermanus, admittedly with 27 holes, did 61 442 rounds, including a record 7 869 in December alone. The busiest, most popular 18-hole courses in Cape Town were again Clovelly and Westlake with 57 000 rounds, while Durbanville did 52 000, Milnerton 49 750 and Royal Cape 48 500.
The Fancourt resort had a record 57 000 rounds at their three courses, while the busiest courses in the Garden Route belonged to the old member clubs, George (46 000), Mossel Bay (45 000) and Knysna (42 000).
To see how the rankings have evolved in the past 20 years, take a look at the 1998 Top 50 on Page 66. Enjoy our 20th anniversary Top 100, and may it inspire you to venture forth and visit courses you’ve never played before.