Signature asked top South African professional Louis Oosthuizen to name his top 10 courses in the country and why. It makes for a fascinating selection
Louis Oosthuizen is one of South Africa’s most celebrated golfers. He is in the world’s top 20 and has one Major championship under his belt – the 2010 Open at St Andrews.
He was also runner-up at the 2012 Masters at Augusta and the 2015 Open Championship, again at St Andrews.
Oosthuizen is also the playing editor for Compleat Golfer, South Africa’s most established monthly golf magazine.
1 Albertinia Golf Club
This might sound a little crazy but Albertinia Golf Club is at the top of my list. I have quite a number of reasons for it being my favourite but when you see my top 10, hopefully you will have a good understanding of what makes me tick.
Albertinia might only be a nine-hole course but it’s the place where I spent many hours every day practising and honing my golfing skills. It has sand and oil greens. We only have a small membership, with 23 active players, but I was supported a lot during my junior golf days. There are quite a number of nine-hole courses with oil and sand greens in South Africa and I really appreciate and identify with the passion those golfers have for the sport to continue playing and supporting a club in those tough conditions.
FAST FACT: The area surrounding Albertinia is an eco-paradise. Breathtaking views stretch from the coastal area right along the Gourits River over the dune lands to the South of the N2, up into the foothills of the Langeberg mountains to the north.
2 Durban Country Club
I really like the old-style design of this golf course. The course itself was established long before I was born, 1922, and is situated across the road from the rugby and soccer stadiums.
The layout is not long, but requires strategic shot-making and you have to cleverly plot your way around the course. Durban CC is a shot-maker’s course and most golfers don’t use their driver until well into their round due to the narrowness of the opening holes. And yes, I have won there a couple of times!
FAST FACT: A combination of lush vegetation, sand dunes and stunning views of the Indian Ocean make this course one of the most unique, and challenging, in the world. The massive undulations in the fairways, especially the 5th, 8th and 17th, are one of the defining characteristics of Durban Country Club.
3 Gary Player country club
I just love the setting of the golf course. It’s also a course where the more you play it, the more you know how to play it.
The Nedbank Challenge is also a special event as my family is with me; Alastair Roper and Sun International really look after the players and their families, so I have fond memories of the course. It opened in 1979 and was built in a volcanic crater. It’s 6 550m in length and is a great way to walk nearly 7km!
FAST FACT: The course has hosted some of the biggest names in golf. It has been cleverly designed with imaginatively placed bunkers and multiple tees to give novice and skilled golfers a satisfying round. The kikuyu fairways and bent-grass greens offer a near-perfect playing surface.
4 Leopard Creek country club
Although I really love the layout, I have either played very well or missed the cut! But to me Leopard Creek is a great course and the bushveld setting just gives me the African feeling – we belong here. It’s great to visit the Kruger National Park with my family in between the golf – especially after travelling the world during the year.
It’s really a special place. The 505m par-five 13th is amazing. The green is right on the edge of the Crocodile River but 32m above the level of the water, offering views up the river and into the Kruger Park.
FAST FACT: Extensive use has been made of water features and sightings of crocodile, hippo, antelope, buffalo and elephant are commonplace. Gary Player is especially proud of the par-five 18th with its island green and the par-four 9th with its peninsula green jutting out of the same body of water.
5 East London East Course
I find it quite similar to Durban Country Club in that it’s not long; quite short in fact, but it requires precise shot-making and you have to keep your nerve, with all the bush and tight holes. This course can get rather tough, especially the closing holes when there is a strong cross-wind blowing.
FAST FACT: A traditional layout set among hills, dunes and coastal indigenous bush, it has a combination of links and parkland features. The course is also home to a family of impala, the Knysna loerie and other species of bird life.
6 Fancourt MONTAGU
I just love the whole setting at Fancourt. There is a great variety of golf courses which are always in superb condition and you can really test your game off the tees on the Montagu course. Last year this magazine ranked the Fancourt Links as its No 1 course, which highlights how impressive it is.
FAST FACT: Exquisitely conditioned to provide a riveting golfing experience, this tree-lined course covers large tracts of varying terrain on rolling land. A detailed stroke-saver takes golfers through the course, providing distance measurements and images that assist players with navigating the course. A warm-up area, featuring a full-length range and a chipping and bunker practice area,
is available to golfers before play.
7 Country Club Johannesburg
The Woodmead course stands out for me because in 2008 I won the Telkom PGA tournament there. I scored a 28-under-par 260 in a week when I could do nothing wrong. The runner-up, Hennie Otto, also played well and he finished 14 shots behind me. It was crazy!
This course suits me. The parkland setting reminds me of The Montagu at Fancourt and George Golf Club.
FAST FACT: The Woodmead course, opened in 1968, is an exceptional parkland course with tall trees, immaculate greens and a sense of history, and is host to the annual Telkom PGA Championship. Adjacent to Woodmead, the newer Rocklands course offers a challenging, rolling course with sweeping views over northern Johannesburg.
8 Humewood golf course
Being someone who is used to playing at the coast and who won The Open Championship in 2010 on the St Andrews course, I just love links golf.
I think Humewood is just about the only true links course in South Africa.
You really have to know how to manoeuvre the golf ball in windy conditions and believe me, they don’t call Port Elizabeth the Windy City for nothing!
It’s a true test of your creativity.
FAST FACT: Humewood has wide and undulating fairways, fast greens and thick coastal bush. The course boasts a variety of animal life with an abundance of plovers, otherwise known as ‘kiewietjies’, one of which makes up the club’s emblem.
9 Pinnacle Point beach
and golf estate
What a spectacular golf course! On a nice summer’s day you just want to take a few pictures on every hole. But it can also be
a beast off the tees. The layout requires 18 good tee shots to put a decent round together. My junior golf academy is based at Pinnacle Point and we have a lot of really talented junior golfers honing their skills there.
FAST FACT: This clifftop course inspires the golfer to play this challenging layout with respect due to its dramatic views and breathtaking terrain. The par-72 layout is characterised by seven majestic holes that line the Indian Ocean rock cliffs, four of which are played over ocean and cliff. The reintroduction of the endemic fauna and flora to the estate has been hailed as a remarkable achievement by ecologists and the preservation of this pristine fynbos is an ongoing commitment by the estate.
10 Mossel Bay Golf Club
In 2002 I played a nice little round of 57 on this golf course, which helped launch my Louis 57 brand. However, an even better round on it might have been the 59 I made when I had to sink a 20-foot putt for eagle on the last green. Mossel Bay Golf Club is similar to Durban Country Club and East London, so maybe these type of golf courses suit my way of playing. I always seem to go well when teeing up on them.
FAST FACT: The course is an easy walk and very playable from tee to green for all golfers, even if you have just taken up the game. The beautiful views of the Indian Ocean or the springboks roaming on the course might distract you, but they will definitely leave you with lasting memories.
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY/GRANT LAVERSHA/ALFRED LORE