Feature Image copyright: : Iuliia Sokolovska
Yes it’s that time of year again (for anyone in the northern hemisphere anyway). I’m not talking about you Australian’s who get to enjoy Christmas on the beach! For many, the nights are drawing in and the cold dark mornings are starting to make us all feel a bit down. It gets to the weekend and you hit the course, but it’s just not the same. Thermal layers are on and the most important thing in your bag is not your putter but probably your umbrella!
Some people embrace golf in the winter, testing conditions and more often than not, a quieter course. But for many, the joys of golf are founded in being outside….in the sun! Taking your time and soaking up the rays, not tempted to skip the back nine so you can get back to the clubhouse fireplace.
So I’m going to start a rundown of the top golf destinations for winter sun. That will hopefully have you packing your bags and leaving that snow behind.
Being in the Southern half of the globe; South Africa enjoys it’s warmest months from December through February. The western cape is home to stunning scenery from the wine country to huge national parks. This area of the country is also home to some stunning golf courses.
Everything from challenging links courses to courses designed by Jack Niklaus the choice is superb. With February temperatures averaging around 75oF this is a very pleasant choice for golf this winter.
Where to play?
The Best course: Pearl Valley at Val de Vie Estate
A course designed by Jack Niklaus, this course is located just an hours drive from Cape Town. Bordered by vineyards and with views of mountains beyond, this is a truly stunning setting for golf.
The course is maintained to an impeccable standard with a good balance so it can be tackled by experienced but also beginners too.
Green fees can be quite pricey in their Summer. But can you truly put a cost on playing a course designed by the Great Bear himself!
Most Challenging Course: Steenberg Golf Club, Cape Town
Seeing as you are going to be enjoying beautiful sunny conditions you are going to want a challenging course right? Well the course at Steenburg is certainly that.
Situated just 30 minutes outside of Cape Town, the course is set in stunning scenery. Steenberg boasts 4 distinct areas, wetlands, parkland, the Cape flats and fynbos (shrubland/ heathland special to the Western Cape area).
The site was originally the home of the oldest Vineyard on the Cape peninsula before it was dramatically transformed in 1994.
18 holes will set you back just under $100.
Bargain Round: Royal Cape
Ok so those last two courses are incredible, but they will leave you with potentially not much left for a drink in the clubhouse after. And considering you are surrounded by amazing vineyards you should probably save as much as possible.
The Royal Cape course will not break the bank quite as much, a round here is around $60 but the course is still very good indeed. The course has hosted the South African open no fewer than 10 times and has been graced by many of the greats.
This course also gets the prize for being the closest to Cape Town center (just 15 minutes by car). Giving you even more time to tour those vineyards! (I’m starting to sound like I’m more interested in wine than golf here).
Where to fly to?
Flights to Cape Town are available from all over the USA, Canada and Europe. A quick search in January shows:
- Flights from Washington, are around $730 return
- Direct flights from Manchester, UK for just £460 return
Check out Skyscanner for the best deals from wherever you live. It allows you to search for entire months and will give you the cheapest airport options so if you are flexible there are always bargains to be found.
Where to stay?
Pearl Valley and Steenberg both have hotels on site. So if you want convenience and don’t mind the price they are both beautiful and highly rated.
However, if you would rather stay away from the course here are a couple of great options in Cape Town.
Budget: La Roche Guest House
The La Roche guest house is located close to the coast just north of the city center of Cape Town and just 8 miles from the airport.
Prices start around $80 per night during the summer with breakfast included. In this price, you will have access to the pool facilities, a king-sized bed and stunning views of table mountain!
Mid-Range: Southern Comfort Guest Lodge
This hotel is located right in the heart of the action in the middle of Cape Town within walking distance of many excellent bars and restaurants. The owners are renowned for being incredibly welcoming and an airport shuttle can be provided if you decide not to hire a car.
Prices at the Southern Comfort start around $113 a night in peak season.
High End: Villa Costa Rose
Located just a 6 minute walk from the beach the Villa Costa Rose is a real luxury place to stay in Cape Town.
Prices start at around $170 a night, which gets you a king-sized bed and private balcony of course. Prices are a little lower (around $130) for a double room.
Breakfast is included and even the option of free cancellation if you change your mind.
What to do when you aren’t on the course?
No trip to Africa would be complete without a trip to see some of the incredible wildlife that calls this country home.
There are a few options located just a couple of hours drive outside of Cape Town with many companies offering to drive you there and back if you don’t have your own car.
The Inverdoorn Game Reserve is a good option, located just over 2 hours from Cape Town. The park is home to giraffes, cheetahs, hippos, zebras, wildebeest, springbok and much more in the 10,000 hectares of wilderness. The park is also renowned for its cheetah rehabilitation programme.
Check out the Inverdoorn Reserve on Tripadvisor for reviews and tour options.
Visit a Vineyard (have I mentioned this yet?)
As you will probably know South Africa is renowned for producing world class wines and there are many great vineyards within a short drive of Cape Town.
One of the best ways to see a few of the best (and not have to worry about driving yourself!) is to do a tour.
Cape town wine tours are one of the top rated companies that offer this service. Their friendly wine experts will take you on a tour of some of the best vineyards Cape Town has to offer.
So there you have it, a starting point for you to start exploring South Africa. With such a great choice of courses, fantastic weather and loads of other activities to occupy you, this country really is a great destination for golf this winter.