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Durban Country Club
Situated on the country’s east coast, Durban Country Club is well-known for its heaving topography: When viewed from one of several pinnacle tees, the undulations in the fairway can seem more pronounced than the Indian Ocean breakers in the near distance. The 12th is one of its most famous holes. A brutal short par three with a bunker in front and extremely steep falloffs to either side of the green, it’s known as the “Prince of Wales”; hole—in 1925, the future Edward VIII, who was an avid player, made a shocking 17 here. Greens fees start at $35; Isaiah Ntshangase Rd., Durban; 27-31/313-1777; dcclub.co.za.
The Links at Fancourt
One of South Africa’s premier luxury resorts, Fancourt, a four-hour drive from Cape Town, played host to a memorable Presidents Cup in 2003, when Tiger Woods and Ernie Els both holed long putts in the fading light to produce the event’s first-ever draw. “I am very proud of this course,”; says The Links’ designer, Gary Player. “We took a tough site that was previously an airport and later a trash dump and created a terrific links-style golf course.”; Despite its name, The Links is not a true links (a Scottish style of golf course characterized by coastal sand dunes)—visually, the wild and woolly greens are more reminiscent of Whistling Straits, another engineering marvel built on top of an abandoned airfield in Kohler, Wisconsin. Greens fees start at $180; Montagu St., Blanco; 27-44/804-0000; fancourt.com.
Four hours from Johannesburg, Leopard Creek, located on the southern edge of Kruger National Park, actually brings the safari into the golf experience—giraffes, hippos and elephants are commonly seen frolicking in the course’s water hazards. A venue on the European Tour, it is a true test of skill, in particular the par-five finishing hole: Attacking this island green to set up an eagle putt requires considerable strength and nerve. Though the club is private, a visit can easily be arranged through the area’s best safari lodges, including Jock Safari Lodge (rooms, from $390; Kruger National Park; 27-41/509-3000; jocksafarilodge.com) and Buhala Lodge (rooms, from $1,495; Kruger National Park; 27-82/909-5941; buhala.co.za), both of which are just minutes away. Greens fees start at $200; Malelane; 27-13/791-2000; leopardcreek.co.za.
There are certainly flashier courses in South Africa, but Humewood, in the Eastern Cape’s Port Elizabeth, is the only real links in Africa and thus the choice for the connoisseur. “Visually, it reminds me a bit of the famous Carnoustie Links in Scotland,”; says Gordon Turner, a golf-travel expert who runs a satellite office in South Africa for the U.S.-based luxury tour operator Perry Golf (perrygolf.com). The course features some inspiring views of the Indian Ocean, and coastal breezes are an ever-present companion, promoting the kind of creative shotmaking that true golfers savor. Greens fees start at $45; Marine Dr., Summerstrand; 27-41/583-2137; humewoodgolf.co.za.
And One More…
PINNACLE POINT BEACH AND GOLF RESORT
This design by Peter Matkovich and 2011 British Open champ Darren Clarke opened to much buzz back in 2006 for its blend of thrilling cliffhanger shots and major-league ocean views. Located smack in the middle of the Garden Route, the course is connected to a comfortable full-service resort of the same name. With everything from horseback riding to casino gaming to exploring the Pinnacle Point caves—a Stone Age complex that’s on track to become a UNESCO World Heritage site—the resort and its immediate surroundings offer plenty of off-course activities. Greens fees start at $44; 1 Pinnacle Rd., Heirerand, Mossel Bay; 27-44/693-3438; pinnaclepointestate.co.za.