A trip ‘down the Peninsula’ is always special, for whatever reason you make it, but please dispel any preconceived ideas that Clovelly Golf Club, located just outside Fish Hoek, is a long way to go for a round of golf. At just 33 kms, or 40 minutes’ drive away from the centre of Cape Town, it’s not a long way to go to play golf in such serene surroundings.
Perched authoritatively above the course, the clubhouse commands a panoramic view from False Bay and up into the Silvermine Valley. The clubhouse terrace is the bustling focal point for the course, with the pro shop and halfway house conveniently placed. There is a cosmopolitan feel to the terrace, with locals and international visitors milling around either before or after their game. From this lofty vantage point, you’re able to watch the golfers heading out, and coming home to the grandstand finish of the 18th green, right in front of the terrace, where you’re guaranteed an appreciative audience if you birdie the last.
The first and tenth holes start with elevated tee shots from in front of the terrace to sharp right- and left-hand doglegs respectively. After that, you are isolated, and the course opens up, one shot at a time. It’s an easy walking course – there are no long treks between green and tee, and no severe uphill climbs except to the final green. The front nine holes weave gently up the valley to the right, while the back nine retains many elements of the course’s original linksland feel, which is something that Damian Wrigley, Director of Golf, told me they intend to enhance, with the addition of a few more strategically-placed mounds.
The holes are routed so that you don’t always play two holes in the same direction, thus the southeasterly wind, that often makes its presence felt in this part of the world, will be a factor in your club selection.
Clovelly is in excellent condition all year round, due to its sandy subsoil; the greens are soft enough to hold approach shots, and run as smooth and true as any course I’ve played. It’s a fun course: not punitive, tricked up, too long or riddled with too many water hazards. You can swing the timber on the tee if you wish, but your next shot will always require much more attention to accuracy. Bring a good short- to mid- iron game and a smooth putting stroke, and you’ll have a grand day out.
Arrive early and take advantage of the excellent practice facilities. Also, the practice putting green has a speed very close to the greens on the course – use this to your advantage! Off-course, the food at halfway is tasty and reasonably priced.
Holes to Watch:
Par 3 – 11th hole: Men 132m; Ladies 120m
A tee shot over water (and trees, depending on the tee box location) to a receptive green that is gently angled toward you. This is a picture-perfect inviting target, but if you’re not on the right part of the green, your putting will be tested!
Par 5 – 15th hole: Men 477m; Ladies 445m
Fortune favours the brave on this hole, usually played downwind. A long tee-shot down the left will avoid the water hazard hugging the right of the fairway, but the green is surrounded by a horse-shoe of water, demanding a very accurate second shot, or a safe lay-up to (almost) guarantee a par.
Par 4 – 18th hole: Men 282m; Ladies 258m
A grandstand finish, and short enough to keep you thinking. A huge drive doesn’t give you an advantage, as you’ll only end up at the bottom of the steep bank in front of the green, or in one of the several well-placed bunkers. Take two clubs more to get home.
Where: 117 Clovelly Road, Clovelly (Follow the sign for Clovelly Country Club at the traffic lights on the M4 as you enter Fish Hoek)
Contact: +27 21 784 21 (booking essential)
Photography courtesy Nick Plummer and Clovelly CC