Length of Course: Men 6082 m Ladies 5107 m
Type of Course: Parkland
Visitors: Always welcome
Director of Golf: Jonathan Menteath 028 284 0105
Club Shop: Yes
Practice Facilities: Warm up area, chipping and putting greens
Hire Facilities: Clubs, trolleys, caddies, and drive carts with GPS
Catering: Bar, restaurant, halfway house
Location: On the R44 between Kleinmond and Hermanus
Contact: Jonathan Menteath
Postal address: P.O.Box 593, Kleinmond 7195
Phone: 028 284 0105
Fax: 028 284 9385
THE CAPE’S NUMBER ONE COURSE
In 2010, the Arabella Golf Club was ranked as the fourth best golf course in South Africa, by the Golf Digest Magazine’s esteemed panel of judges. This award highlights that Arabella is deservedly regarded as the Cape’s number one challenge. This tribute also reflects the consistent standards maintained by the passionate green keeping personnel who cherish ‘their’ golf course. The first time visitor will understand these accolades, which acknowledge the splendour of a well balanced, classical, flowing and scenically splendid layout created by famed local golf course architect Peter Matkovich. In 2013 a substantial investment in upgrading the sprinkler system emphasizes the quest for the continued ambition towards perfection.
The fame of the course has in recent years spread internationally, as for several years the course was the venue for the Nelson Mandela Invitational Tournament. This charitable event hosted by Nelson Mandela and Gary Player drew tournament players, seniors, entertainers and businessmen to raise funds while participating in a social yet competitive event, which became legendary for its garden party atmosphere.
The course itself is situated at the heart of an award-winning real estate and hotel development on the shores of South Africa’s largest lagoon. This area, famous for its world biosphere status, is renowned for the world-class whale watching and the famous holiday town of Hermanus, only 20 kilometres from the estate. Indeed, the off-course choices are part of the charm of staying and playing at Arabella. Fine wine estates abound in the nearby Hemel en Aarde Valley, horseback riding, quad biking, magnificent hiking and mountain biking trails are for the more adventurous. While more leisurely pursuits are lazy long walks along golden beaches, visits to historical museums or dining in the choisest of mountain or ocean view restaurants.
Gould’s Special Note
All of these choices will only be experienced if you are able to resist the wonderful treatments and facilities of the award-winning Arabella Spa in the Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa.
The golf experience begins on both nines with an uphill challenge (the only two holes that are markedly uphill) and the undulating character of the terrain allows for constant and breathtakingly beautiful views to be part of the whole encounter. The focus on the holes is made memorable by the clever use of the local water features, the most invigorating of these being the closing two holes on the front nine and the finishing four on the second nine. This in no way detracts from the quite splendid variety of the other holes. Here, doglegs left, doglegs right, interspersed with quite magnificent par 3’s made challenging by either downhill, length or water features. Local indigenous vegetation is very much part of the journey, while pine trees add a substantial framing to some of the holes.
Arabella is a championship layout and played from the back tees it can be a monster, especially if the sea breezes are blowing to their full potential. The member tees allow for little or any loss of concentration, and targeting the right areas of the fairways and approaches to greens is occasionally made more important as the boundaries of some of the holes are a protected nature reserve and balls straying into these areas are deemed lost and irretrievable.
The joy for this inconvenience is matched by the sheer pleasure of the visual beauty, which is always part of the course and with immaculate fairways, excellent greens and those aforementioned views, this is a golf course that will forever be imprinted in the mind of the first time visitor.
I am a member of this club and there is much discussion among the members as to which are the best holes on this magnificent golf course. For some it is the short flat par 4, 9th that curves around the Bot River Lagoon shore and allows high-risk high-reward off the tee. For others it is the challenge at the par 3, 17th where a choice of tees gives a differing perspective to a green set between a high grassy bank and a slope that leads towards the ever-present lagoon, with an array of very visible bunkers to add to the challenge.
Others will tell you that the par 5, 18th is a magnificent finishing hole, with its demand for accuracy off the tee, avoiding bush and fynbos, left and waste bunkers and lagoon, right. A gentle curve to the right two-thirds along the fairway demands continuing accuracy for the shorter hitters, while the longer player will risk all to reach a difficult target protected by waste and normal bunkers, grassy banks and the nature reserve that borders the lagoon.
For me however, the most memorable holes are the par 5, 8th and the par 4, 15th. Both are spectacularly downhill (I love downhill holes!) and should be experienced for the first time as a surprise to truly observe their magnificence. Hence no further description here!
I can however give you a glimpse of what is on offer.
2nd Hole – Par 5 – Men 452 m Ladies 381 m
This is a seemingly straightforward par 5, which enjoys a wide fairway narrowed slightly by trees on the right and natural fynbos on the left. Bunkers right are visible and come into play for the second shot, while not so noticeable is a large water hazard left of the very large and subtly sloped green.
3rd Hole – Par 4 – Men 431 m Ladies 353 m
This stroke 1 hole is a major challenge and a visually classic one. From the tee, water left will lead you to aim right, where two strategically placed bunkers have to be considered. The fairway gently doglegs to the left where a green, sloping steeply uphill from front to back, is bordered by water to its immediate left.
Gould’s Special Note:
The awards abound for this estate. The Hotel was voted Africa’s Leading Luxury Hotel at the 2009 World Travel Awards Ceremony. Other awards include Best Coastal Hotel 2008, IAGTO Golf Resort of the Year 2008 (outside Europe and North America) –Top 60 courses outside the United States by Golf Digest 2007. My guide isn’t big enough to list them all!
Take the N2 from Cape Town over Sir Lowry’s Pass. Continue over this pass and then turn left onto the R43 (to Hermanus). At approximately 20 km until R44 (Kleinmond sign) turn right – at 3 km the estate is on the left. Or take the spectacularly scenic coastal route from Gordon’s Bay (off the N2 from Cape Town), passing through Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond. Follow the road for about 8 km until you see the Arabella Country Estate sign on your right.