Just 8 km from Cape Town, Milnerton Golf Club must claim ownership of the most recognisable view in the golfing world after the Old Course at St Andrews. Table Mountain stands sentinel over the city, and with uninterrupted views from the course, it features (quite rightly) in nearly all the course’s marketing material. If you’ve got exclusivity on a view like this, flaunt it! True, there is another links course further up the coast with a similar, if more distant view of Table Mountain, but if you play Milnerton without bringing your camera, you’re either a member, or you’ve played before, and you already have plenty of photos of Cape Town’s favourite darling from the course.
There is another connection with The Old Course – the opening hole has probably the widest fairway in Cape Town, maybe in South Africa, as it is shared with the 18th fairway. Hit your tee-shot out of bounds here, and you can call yourself Ian Baker-Finch. After the first hole, it gets a little tighter. There’s no Swilcan Burn or outrageous pot bunkers to contend with here, but Mother Nature provides all the protection this course requires – a ‘firm’ south-easterly wind being a constant reminder that you’re playing right next to the ocean, and a liberal sprinkling of water hazards, culminating in the Milnerton Lagoon running the length of the left side of the final three holes.
After four relatively straightforward opening par-fours, the course passes briefly through a small real estate development, introduced in 1995, which necessitated a number of holes to be re-routed or completely rebuilt. This was ultimately to the course’s benefit, with the inclusion of additional water features, bunkers and exceptional putting surfaces.
One feature that is synonymous with links courses is the rolling fairways that encourage a different, more traditional style of play to the modern ‘bomb and gouge’ target golf that pervades the sport these days. Milnerton is a return to old-school golf, and in order to craft a good score, you’ll need to know how to play a low running shot, especially on those frequent, windy days.
Another unique feature is that this is a traditional ‘out and back’ course. The first nine holes head up the coast, where the welcoming Halfway House will provide you with sufficient sustenance to play the back nine. From here you play your way back to the club house, where you can reward (or console) yourself with a cold one, while overlooking the ocean from the terrace.
On a windy day, make your score downwind on the front nine, then hang on for dear life coming home! You are at the mercy of the elements – it’s a links course after all, and will test all your shotmaking skills. Practice low-running punch shots, and enjoy the results. If you’re not playing your best, just enjoy the views!
Holes to Watch:
For a links course, there is a great variety of holes. I’ve selected a tricky little par 3 on the back nine, and the last two holes on the outward nine.
Par 3 – 14th hole: Men 164m; Ladies 149m
You play over water for two-thirds of your tee-shot, but try not to be intimidated by it. At 164m, so it’s not overly long, but the green is well-guarded by greenside bunkers. With a tail wind, club selection is crucial to make par.
Par 5 – 8th hole: Men 456m; Ladies 429m
From an elevated tee, with the wind at your heels, a well-struck (and straight) tee shot could leave you a mid-iron to the green. The emphasis is on a straight shot, as wetlands wait on the left, and a water hazard runs the length of the right side of the fairway. Be careful with your approach to the small, well-protected green.
Par 4 – 9th hole: Men 373m; Ladies 348m
Don’t entertain thoughts of your half-way snack just yet, you’ve still got work to do! Truly deserving of its stroke index 1, this hole always plays longer than you think. The approach is over water to the elevated and undulating green. If you’re in any doubt, lay up and hope for a chip and a putt to make your half-way snack a little more enjoyable!
Where 8 km north of Cape Town, on the West Coast Road
Contact +27 21 552 3108
Photography courtesy Barbourians, Milnerton Golf Club and Chris Duncan