I first played Durbanville Golf Club in June 2005, following winter rains. My opening tee shot sailed down the middle of the fairway, plugged, and was never seen again. Poor drainage, on a course laid out on the clay soils of this area, was a big turn-off for winter visitors, and a significant challenge for the club.
Ten years later, you wouldn’t believe that this challenge had ever existed. Following extensive investment in a comprehensive drainage solution, and with a commitment to continuously improve both course and facilities, Durbanville is now regarded as one of the best conditioned courses in Cape Town, and is fully playable all year round. A remarkable achievement in such a short time, and it doesn’t stop there, as there are now plans to replace the existing irrigation system with a state of the art system.
An advantage of heading ‘North’ to play here, is that on days when other courses (and golfers) in Cape Town and the peninsula are being battered by the Southeaster wind, Durbanville is relatively sheltered. At only 20 minutes from the city centre, on a breezy day, you won’t need to nail your hat on.
As for the course itself? It’s gently undulating, with not too much punitive rough, allowing you to be a little wayward off the tee. A variety of tee box options and cheeky pin placements can create a challenge on competition days, but day visitors will generally find a course that is both playable, and enjoyable.
In addition to the dams on holes 12 and 14, there are a number of shallow lateral water hazards that you need to be aware of, which all contribute to the excellent winter drainage, but are usually empty and dry during the summer months. Bunkering is strategic, and not too challenging, and a recent large-scale tree-planting programme is already showing maturity, defining the routing of the holes on the course.
A special mention must be reserved for the greens. There are championship courses in the Cape that would kill to have greens as good as these. Receptive to the best-played approach shots, running true and fast (10.5 on the stimpmeter when I played, officially classed as ‘fast’); they are a delight to putt.
There are plenty of warm-up facilities, including a driving range and chipping green. The Pure Motion Golf Academy run by Lana Orgovanyi, based here, is showing continued success with its protégés, and close community engagement sees many juniors and families enjoying the course and relaxed, sociable clubhouse facilities. You won’t find a stuffed collar in sight at Durbanville.
It’s not called ‘The Jewel of The North’ for nothing. If you haven’t played Durbanville before, make it your priority to do so. Trust me, you’ll love it.
Subscribe to Durbanville Golf Club’s free SMS alerts, or remind yourself to check their website – every few weeks they offer ‘A Great Day For Golf,’ usually on a Friday, with the best rates you will find in Cape Town, currently at only R250 for 18 holes. I can’t think of a better way to end the week!
Holes to Watch:
The front nine holes are well-routed, and each hole has its own protection. However, my choices are from the back nine, where more elevation changes and water features give each of the holes a unique character.
Par 5 – 11th hole: Men 459m; Ladies 375m
One of the most intimidating holes on the course, the eye is drawn down a dead straight, narrowing aisle of trees to a small green. Any thoughts of heroics in going for the green in two should be dispelled by the associated high risk. Play within your limits, and you will be rewarded for your conservative strategy!
Par 3 – 12th hole: Men 180m; Ladies 121m
Don’t be intimidated by the water you must carry on this most picturesque hole. A variety of tee boxes, wind strength and wind direction will greatly influence your club choice. Be confident, make a smooth swing and enjoy the result!
Par 4 – 14th hole: Men 361m; Ladies 295m
One of the Cape’s most notorious holes. A gently curving dogleg left to right, away from the new lake, brings you to the foot of a vertiginous climb up to the green. Nicknamed “The Pulpit” for obvious reasons, the elevation of the green is the only protection. Take one or two clubs more and trust your swing, or watch your ball roll back 50m to your feet – your choice!
Where Sports Way, Durbanville
Contact +27 21 976 8121
Photography courtesy Nick Plummer and Durbanville Golf Club