South Africa is blessed with an abundance of estates offering an opportunity to find some real value for those seeking to live alongside the fairways
The golf estate lifestyle has long moved beyond the exclusive domain of the super wealthy to now becoming a very affordable and realistic proposition for many families.
Pearl Valley near Franschhoek has long been one of the most sought-after in this category. The estate is a little over an hour’s drive from Cape Town. It is surrounded by some quality schools and its location in the heart of the Cape Winelands also does it no harm.
These are all the positives even before you set foot inside its gates. The Jack Nicklaus Signature Course is obviously a major drawcard, and it is indeed a treat to play this course.
The country feel of the estate makes for a haven of tranquillity that is appealing to more and more families. A spacious clubhouse with a restaurant and pool is at the heart of an impressive list of amenities on the estate.
It also boasts a gym, spa, equestrian centre, cycling and running routes, floodlit tennis courts, cricket nets, a soccer field, ample child-friendly areas, and even a hair salon.
Properties start at around the R4-million range, but it’s at the high end of this market for a reason. The recent acquisition of Pearl Valley by the Mantis Collection and Val de Vie Estate is another major plus point for the future growth of this estate, with many more plans in the pipeline, including a luxury hotel as part of what the investors are referring to as a ‘mega estate’.
It’s the latest phase for an estate that has passed through many hands, from its original ownership under a Malaysian investor to Dubai World, when the South African Open Championship found a home at Pearl Valley, and then Standard Bank.
Last year Pearl Valley was voted the leading residential estate in South Africa by the international rating agency New World Wealth – one of the primary considerations of which was the value for money offered by the estate.
Another estate that offers an attractive lifestyle option is St Francis Links in the Eastern Cape. The story goes that Jack Nicklaus’ son was meant to handle the design of St Francis Links in the hamlet of St Francis Bay.
But when the senior Nicklaus took his first look at the natural land for the proposed golf course, he turned to his son and said, ‘This is way too good for you’.
The quality of the St Francis Links course is only one of the reasons this estate has become such a popular living option for so many.
The village of St Francis is picture-postcard material, with its white houses with thatched roofs criss-crossed by canals. And it is only a pitching wedge across the road from the entrance to
St Francis Links.
St Francis is also only an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth, with the equally appealing Jeffreys Bay on this route. Possibly the greatest asset of this estate lies in its CEO, Jeff Clause. Clause is a PGA of South Africa Master Professional and a true legend of the industry. Describing himself as a Texan by birth and South African by choice, he runs an incredibly tight ship and is intensely focused on adding value for members and homeowners.
It’s reflected in the creative way he goes about breaking the mould of what a traditional golf estate should cater for.
Clause has instituted everything from a park run to a skateboard competition and even a four-day hike that ends in the estate, as part of his vision to create the kind of inclusive lifestyle he believes is the future of such estates.
‘I’m here to run a business to attract people to St Francis Links, not just for a short stay but hopefully a long stay and to live here,’ he says. ‘We do the park run, and that’s been very popular. We’ve had as many as 200 people for that on a Saturday. We’ve had the Sector 9 skateboard race here for a few years now. Our fifth hole is a pretty elevated tee on the top of the dune, and the path that comes down alongside that enables you to get up to a good speed on a skateboard.
‘We also take part in a thing called the Chokka Trail, which is a great walk over four days that finishes on the estate. All golf clubs want to capture the golfer, but must also realise that the golfer has other attentions and interests. People have limited time these days. One day a member called me and said, “There are kids playing soccer next to the seventh green”, and my reply was, “Isn’t that great”. I like the birders to come here too – I mean, why not expose the most beautiful natural settings in our country, namely our golf courses?’
Perhaps the most significant shift in the market has been in the growth of what was once considered sleepy seaside towns with exclusive estates catering for the international or wealthy lifestyle market. These estates are now becoming more realistic residential options.
Zimbali on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast finds itself perfectly positioned in the rapidly expanding Ballito area. Hospitals and top private schools have significantly added to the value of what was once seen as an estate on the outskirts of Durban, but which is now very much a viable residential option for many South Africans. With Umhlanga fast reaching residential capacity, Zimbali’s value keeps rising.
Further inland, the relatively new Cotswold Downs is becoming a very popular investment in the mid-priced economic bracket.
Similarly, George was once also seen as only a haven for the retired or international investor. But the town’s rapid growth once again makes an estate such as Fancourt a realistic option as a permanent family base.
The international pedigree that Fancourt brings means there is longstanding value in property here, and there are also several residential options ranging from R4-million to multi-million rand homes.
The significant growth of Hermanus from a village to a major town with top medical and schooling options has also resulted in more attention being placed on Arabella Golf Estate as a residential option. Similar value can be found at Pezula in Knysna.
Closer to the major centres, Blue Valley Golf Estate in Midrand has seen property values surge over the past few years, while Woodhill in Pretoria East is also still a top performing estate with a school on its premises.
Steyn City, which is still in development, will also become a major player. The most talked-about new development in the market includes roughly 2000 hectares of prime property in the Fourways area. The focus here has been to literally design a city around the needs and wants of its people, with developer Giuseppe Plumari and top South African businessman Douw Steyn pooling their efforts to create what is being seen by many as a benchmark of what the cities of the future should look like. The golf course alone is already tipped to become one of the leading courses in the country.
These may be challenging economic times, but now more than ever there are a multitude of options when it comes to finding real value in the golf estate residential market.
Photography: Grant Leversha