1 Fancourt Links, Garden Route
Consistently ranked as the finest course in the country (and continent), this links-style layout is a must for any visitor to South Africa’s golf-rich Garden Route. Designed by the legendary Gary Player, the 18-hole layout is infamous for its thick rough, demanding greens and cavernous pot bunkers. It’s a challenging track, but certainly one for the bucket list. If you can secure a booking, that is: it’s a private club and tee-times are largely reserved for members and guests, although a handful are made available to guests at the five-star Fancourt Hotel.
fancourt.co.za, green fees from £132 (plus £15 caddie fee)
2 Royal Johannesburg & Kensington, Gauteng
The ‘Royal J&K’, as locals call it, traces its history back more than a century and received its Royal Charter in 1931. Home to two of the city’s finest 18-hole layouts, it’s the ‘East’ course that’s causing a stir among the city’s golfers right now. While the heart of Bob Grimsdell’s design has been retained, an extensive renovation has improved the bunkering, greens and sightlines across the course. These long-overdue upgrades have cemented its position as one of South Africa’s classic tracks, and one of the must-plays in Johannesburg. For high-handicappers, the Royal J&K’s ‘West’ course is less challenging, yet no less charming.
royaljk.za.com, green fees from £55
3 Leopard Creek, Mpumalanga
Situated just across the Crocodile River from the iconic Kruger National Park, Leopard Creek offers a taste of wild African golf at its most luxurious. Home to the prestigious Alfred Dunhill Championship, the superb original layout by Gary Player was improved upon by a major revamp in 2018. The course is now more dramatic — and eco-friendly — than before, with the layout tweaked and water-hungry grasses replanted with indigenous varieties. The 18th is unforgettable, a long par-5 to an island green. Although a private members’ course, limited tee times are made available to selected safari lodges in the area.
leopardcreek.co.za, green fees from £220
4 The Club at Steyn City, Gauteng
Stretching to more than 7,600-yards off the back tees, this exclusive residential estate layout by Nicklaus Design favours big-hitters and the brave. Opened to the public in 2015, the course has firmly settled in and offers a challenging 18-hole layout. Stretched across both banks of the Jukskei River, water comes into play on much of the course, with protected greens setting up plenty of risk-and-reward opportunities. The par-4 eighth is one of the more scenic holes on the course, with pot-bunkers and water to hold players’ attention, while the split-fairway 18th offers a fitting end to a memorable round.
steyncity.co.za/golf.html, green fees from £65
5 Wild Coast Sun, KwaZulu-Natal
A perfect choice for golf travellers with family in tow, this laid-back resort is a regular stop on South Africa’s professional Sunshine Tour. The course is unforgettable, laid out across rolling coastal hills; ensuring fine sea views come as standard. The layout may be short (5,800 yards), but the topography and track make for a challenging round. Beware the par-3 13th, where a driver may be needed to make the green against prevailing winds. Kids and non-golfers are also kept happy here, with spa facilities, restaurants and a water-park providing plenty of entertainment.
suninternational.com/wild-coast-sun, green fees from £20
6 Glendower, Gauteng
Set in the suburbs east of the city, Johannesburg’s leading course has been home to the South African Open for five consecutive years. It’s not hard to see why, with its manicured layout and superb clubhouse facilities. This parkland track is no walk in the park, though, with plentiful bunkers, thick woodland and a layout that runs to more than 7,500 yards from the championship tees. The par-3s offer some respite, although most are played over water, so caution is called for. The par-5 second is a worthy signature, with a narrow fairway threading a corridor of trees to the well-guarded green.
glendower.co.za, green fees from £45
7 Pearl Valley, Cape Winelands
Few golf destinations in South Africa’s picturesque winelands can compete with Pearl Valley, where Jack Nicklaus has carved out a challenging yet accessible course in the shadow of the Cape Mountains. Indigenous fynbos and careful design ensure the upmarket residential properties don’t impinge on the golfing experience. And besides, all attention will be focused on the 12 lakes and 81 bunkers waiting to trap unwary drives. The par-3 13th hole is the signature, with a greenside bunker and water to negotiate. An on-site hotel and extensive clubhouse facilities — including a spa — make this a good base for exploring the region.
pearlvalley.co.za, green fees from £100
8 San Lameer, KwaZulu-Natal
With the fairways framed by lush indigenous forest, this conservation-minded estate offers one of the most enjoyable golf experiences on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal province. Situated a two-hour drive from the international airport (served direct by British Airways and Emirates), the layout by acclaimed architect Peter Matkovich takes full advantage of its lush coastal setting and spectacular sea views. It’s an entertaining track that will challenge low-handicappers without intimidating casual golfers. A nine-hole ‘mashie’ course is also available for beginners and warm-ups. For longer stays there’s a four-star 40-room hotel on-site, and self-catering villas for rent.
sanlameer.co.za, green fees from £29
9 St. Francis Links, Eastern Cape
This attractive links-style course makes an ideal extension to a golfing sojourn along the ever-popular Garden Route, or an add-on to a five-star safari in the (malaria-free) game reserves of the nearby Eastern Cape. Another memorable design by Jack Nicklaus, the plentiful bunkers, coastal winds and thick rough provide plenty of challenge for mid-handicappers. But it’s also an approachable track, with fairways offering generous landing zones provided the sea views don’t distract. The course conditioning is superb, and the clubhouse facilities faultless. For overnight stays, self-catering luxury homes are available for rent on the secure gated estate.
stfrancislinks.com, green fees from £40
10 Gary Player Country Club, Sun City
Laid out amid indigenous bush in the crater of an extinct volcano, the premier course at family-friendly Sun City shows that resort courses can also dish up a true test of golfing mettle. Home to the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge, the course plays at upwards of 7,600-yards off the back markers, with water, bunkers and devilishly thick rough to contend with. Note that this is strictly a walking course, so no carts allowed. The adjoining Lost City Golf Course is also worth a round, and is more forgiving for high-handicappers. The resort is packed with entertainment for non-golfers, from water parks and live shows to casinos and kid-friendly activities.
suninternational.com/sun-city, green fees from £50
11 Omeya Golf Club
Situated on an upmarket residential estate 20 miles from the capital city, Windhoek, Omeya’s 6,800-yard (off the club tees) course offers plenty of challenge for mid-handicappers. Easily the finest track Namibia has to offer, acclaimed golf architect Peter Matkovich took full advantage of the arid Namibian landscape in designing this 18-hole layout. Lush greens and emerald fairways contrast beautifully with the surrounding semi-desert, while ancient camelthorn trees provide both obstacle and distraction. An on-site golf academy is available for lessons.
omeyagolfclub.com, green fees from £25
12 Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort
Set on the shores of Lake Naivasha, and within easy reach of both Nairobi and the Maasai Mara, Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort is an ideal add-on for any Kenyan safari. While the course dishes up stunning views of Lake Naivasha and the Aberdare Mountains, players will need to keep their focus: the course is one of the toughest in Kenya, and is infamous for the par-5 17th stretching to a mammoth 654 yards off the back tees. Though the course is well conditioned there’s a welcome sense of wilderness here, from the indigenous birds to resident zebras wandering across the fairway. Single and double rooms are offered in the intimate lodge, while self-catering villas can be hired by larger groups.
heritage-eastafrica.com, green fees from £32
13 Leisure Lodge Beach & Golf Resort
Kenya is an ideal destination for ‘beach and bush’ golfing holidays, and few coastal courses are as enjoyable to play as Leisure Lodge Beach & Golf Resort on Kenya’s southern coastline. Situated at ever-popular Diani Beach, this charming resort-style track is easily accessible to all handicaps. With its lush kikuyu fairways and palm-fringed greens, the design by architect Tommy Fjastad (who also laid out Great Rift Valley) ticks all the right boxes for relaxed tropical golf. For non-golfers the adjoining resort offers a range of activities, while the historic port city of Mombasa is a 90-minute drive to the north.
leisurelodgeresort.com, green fees from £27
14 Karen Country Club
Committed golfers simply can’t leave Kenya without playing this iconic course on the outskirts of Nairobi, in the lush Ngong Hills. That name may be familiar from the book Out of Africa, and indeed the course still stretches over part of what was once the coffee estate belonging to author Karen Blixen. Founded in 1937, the Karen Country Club remains the largest golf club in Kenya and a round on this traditional parkland course makes for a charming escape from the city. Although only par 71, the course stretches to nearly 7,000-yards from the tips, with plenty of woodland to ensnare wayward drives. For longer stays, The Residences offers luxury rooms overlooking the 2nd fairway.
karencountryclub.org, green fees from £60
15 Mont Choisy Le Golf
The first championship golf course in the north of the island, Mont Choisy is just minutes from popular Trou aux Biches and Grand-Baie. Architect Peter Matkovich has created a course where each nine has its own distinct personality. The front nine is inspired by classic links-style courses: grassy swales, heavy rough and lengthy waste bunkers. In contrast, the back nine celebrates the heritage of this former sugar plantation, in a parkland-inspired tropical layout. The par-3 15th is a standout, with a 200-year-old chimney from the estate’s original sugar mill forming a dramatic backdrop to the island green. Superb clubhouse and practice facilities.
montchoisygolf.com, green fees from £150
16 Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club
Built on an island in sparkling Trou d’Eau Douce Bay, this remarkable layout by Bernhard Langer is one of the finest courses Mauritius has to offer. Revamped in 2013, the course is in superb condition, with a modern clubhouse and practice facilities. It’s a challenging track: narrow fairways, mangrove forests, long carries and plenty of water lurking in wait. But it’s immensely enjoyable, and a choice of four tee positions on each hole makes the course (slightly) more accessible for high-handicappers. The par-4 5th is impossibly scenic, with a pristine tidal pool protecting the green.
ileauxcerfsgolfclub.com, green fees from £157 (complimentary for guests at selected hotels)
17 Constance Lemuria
Hidden away on the island of Praslin, the only 18-hole golf course in the Seychelles offers a short (6,100 yards, par 69), narrow and utterly memorable round. The first 12 holes are tropical-parkland in style, with palm trees and mangrove forests lining the fairways. But it’s the final six holes up into the hills that are unforgettable, with steeply terraced fairways, tee-box eyries and narrow valleys to keep golfers on their toes. Unsurprisingly, golf carts are compulsory. The signature par-3 15th is remarkable: the green lying 160ft below a tee box overlooking turquoise seas.
constancehotels.com, green fees from £130 (resort guests only pay £50 club-car fee)
18 Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort
With wonderful views out over the Atlantic, this course an hour outside Casablanca is one of the finest golf escapes Morocco has to offer. It’s also the longest course in the country, with designer Gary Player crafting 18 challenging holes that stretch to nearly 7,000-yards. However, a choice of tee-boxes allows for shorter options, and the wide landing zones and forgiving greens make it a good choice for mid-handicappers. From kids’ clubs to spa facilities, the adjoining five-star resort has plenty to entertain non-golfers.
mazaganbeachresort.com, green fees from £50
19 Palmeraie Resorts
With 27 holes encircling three luxury resorts, Palmeraie ticks all the right boxes for a golf-focused resort holiday in Morocco. It’s a scenic spot; the three ‘nines’ meandering their way between ancient groves of palms, with views of the distant Atlas Mountains. Though there’s plenty of water, it’s an accessible resort-style course that challenges without being too intimidating. Of the three hotels the boutique Riad Club House, overlooking the course, is best for golfers.
palmeraiemarrakech.com, green fees from £53
Greg Norman’s first layout in North Africa is nothing short of exceptional, and since opening in 2010 has continued to receive rave reviews. Though set amid an upmarket residential development, the homes rarely distract from Norman’s undulating emerald fairways and wide greens. The short 14th is one of the finest on the track, and there’s a risk-reward par-4 with water and bunkers to contend with for a low score. A modern clubhouse, two pro-shops and a state-of-the-art on-site golf academy make this the leading golf destination in the capital.
theallegriacairo.com, green fees from £43