Length of Course: Men 6318 m Ladies 4856 m
Type of Course: Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course
Visitors: Always welcome
Club Professional: Jamie Kietzmann
Club Shop: Yes
Practice Facilities: Driving range, chipping and putting greens
Hire Facilities: Clubs, drive carts
Catering: Bar, halfway house, restaurant
Location: 1 Old Cape Road, Knysna
Contact: Alistair Beaumont, Director of Golf
Postal Address: P.O.Box 623, Knysna 6570
Phone: 044 302 9677
Fax: 044 302 9680
NICKLAUS SIGNATURE ON PANORAMIC SPLENDOUR
The Garden Route is established as the golfing Mecca of South Africa. Indeed in 2006, the prestigious International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) voted the Garden Route in South Africa, as the ‘Best Golf Destination in Africa and the Middle East’. In this context, the Simola Golf and Country Estate provides a punctuation mark to the area’s deserved reputation.
The development is situated on the outskirts of Knysna, (voted South Africa’s favourite town), in the most scenic of its varied locations, high above the town and its famous lagoon.
At the core of the estate is a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, which was officially opened by the ‘Golden Bear’ himself in September 2005. This is only one of 5 Nicklaus signature courses in South Africa, and definitely the most scenic.
At the official opening, Nicklaus pointed out that he had taken 10 years in completing his design. During the original layout of the course and on completion of the seeding of the fairways, the worst rains experienced in 40 years had resulted in the flooding of the area and the complete loss of all the topsoil. This damage had, as a consequence, halted the development and the financial fall-out resulted in the liquidation of the original developer.
Fortunately, new owners have not only completed the original dream, but have exceeded all expectations. With the completion of excellent recreational, accommodation and wellness facilities to complement the ‘Golden Bear’ signature design, the resort has deservedly achieved its rightful place among the best of South Africa’s golfing and leisure destinations.
The amenities inside the secure estate now include a 5-star 40-suite hotel, a specialist Golf Lodge, wellness centre and spa, gymnasium, tennis courts and a swimming pool that is truly memorable, as its location overlooks one of the most magnificent panoramic views. The quality of the golf clubhouse encompasses conferencing facilities, a gourmet restaurant and spa adding to this resort’s already legendary reputation.
A life-sized statue of Nicklaus is a focal point of the welcome to Simola.
Normally one would spend time describing the wonders of a Nicklaus design and all of its nuances, especially in such a majestic location, high on forested hillsides overlooking the Knysna Lagoon, the Knysna River and backed by the Outeniqua Mountains.
Simola, however, will always have the enjoyable battle with the reputation that this is the most scenic residential destination in South Africa, with the golf course merely a bonus to the panorama of beauty that abounds. This deserved assessment explains the continued demand for the varied residential options on offer on the estate, which is fulfilling its stated marketing by-line ‘The most desirable golf address in Africa.’
The golf course, nevertheless, can compete as a destination in its own right. It is truly unique with the unusual feature of five memorable par 3s and five par 5s. The magic of the Nicklaus design is that the individual holes all manage to focus the golfer on each challenge that lies ahead. The Nicklaus signature is easily recognised with the abundance of directional and protective bunkers and the intelligent positioning of greens, demanding that players consider strategy prior to hitting shots and try to avoid looking up at the sensational views of the area while playing those shots!
In truth mere words cannot capture the sensational environment this course is at heart of. However, it is worth giving a sense of what is on offer. Forest, mountain and river are seen from an undulating valley and the panorama expands to allow uninterrupted overviews of the Knysna Lagoon and the famous Knysna Heads leading to the Ocean. The golfer will be distracted by this awesome beauty, but there is much to concentrate on as Nicklaus has maximised the use of the hilly terrain to create an undulating, meandering golf challenge regarded as one of the most favoured among the abundant golf visitors to this area.
A par 72, the golf course has a parkland feel throughout, though the mood is split between two amphitheatre locations straddled by a natural ridge. The first seven valley holes have those magnificent views of the Knysna River, while the 11 holes on the opposing side of the ridge have a sense of space due to the uninterrupted panorama of the surrounding area, which includes the Knysna Heads, lagoon and mountains. Immaculate Kikuyu fairways are punctuated with excellent Bent Grass, many of which are smaller than expected of a modern course (a Nicklaus trait), but which are strategically designed to challenge the golfer to choose the right approach to them to maximise scoring chances.
From Cape Town on the N2 into Knysna. Over the 2nd bridge around the lagoon, take the first left into Old Cape Road. After the Fire Fly Restaurant follow the winding road uphill to a traffic circle and head straight across into the Simola Golf Club.