How to define a great golf course?

How to define a great golf course?

So here’s a question we often get: ‘We’re planning a golfing holiday to South Africa, and would like to play some great courses. What do you recommend?’ I never know what to say…

For me personally a great golf course is challenging, yet not too difficult. Not too many bunkers, not too much water, not too many slopes, and preferably a course I can walk. With a caddy to show me the way, who will share his course knowledge with me, and who will give me subtle hints about my game. Great scenery, fast greens and a modern clubhouse on the other hand are a nice bonus, but are generally not too high on my priority list.

Now on a few occasions I’ve had the privilege of touring with an overseas golf-pro and his local members. His criteria where somewhat different: good warming up area, including a driving area where you can also hit your woods, is a pre-requisite to get onto his ‘favorites’ list. And then the whole entourage in the pro-shop, on the 1st tee, at the halfway house (a whole new concept for most visitors altogether!) and at the clubhouse after the game of golf are as important as the lay-out and level of difficulty of the course.

But my experience with individual golfers is yet another one: what others say about a particular course is actually what makes a course a ‘great course.’ That is, if ‘they’ say good things about the course. Spectacular scenery, great service but also their score influences how a course is perceived. And how high the course ranks in the Golf Digest’ or Compleat Golfers’ ranking is equally important.

I must admit those yearly rankings are a great starting point to discuss which courses should be included in our guests’ next golfing adventure. Independent ratings, diverse criteria and consistent measurements throughout the whole of South Africa.

Anyway, to cut a long story short: I guess the only right answer would be: ‘what is YOUR definition of a great course…?’ And then we’ll advise you accordingly…


Author: Ypie Kingma (aka Eagle Eyes), March 2014
About Eagle Eyes

Ypie Kingma (aka Eagle Eyes) was born and bred in The Netherlands. After graduating in International Business she lived, worked and played in Moscow, Russia for six years. When the financial crisis hit the country in 1998 she and her husband Erik relocated to Amsterdam for a short while before going on a new adventure to South Africa. They ran a very successful guesthouse in Knysna, at 'the bottom of Africa' where they since then started an inbound tour company specializing in tailor made individual or group (golf) tours, which can be self-drive or chauffeur-driven to the whole of South(ern) Africa, incl. accommodation, tee-off times, sightseeing, car rental, etc. Eagle Eyes (#EagleEyes): observations of a golfer, on anything golf and travel in South Africa. Personal stories, possibly biased but always honest. Because there is so much more than just golf!

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