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|Goose Valley Golf Club on South Africa's Garden Route offers great value and greater scenery. (Brandon Tucker/WorldGolf.com)|
Plettenberg Bay' offers two golf courses including Goose Valley Golf Club, a Gary Player design at the Turtle Creek Estate. With affordable green fees, spectacular scenery and wineries nearby, the "Garden Route" in South Africa's Western Cape is a popular golf vacation spot.
PLETTENBERG BAY, South Africa - As is the case everywhere along the "Garden Route" in South Africa's Western Cape, there is beauty here on every mountaintop and rocky shore. Ostrich and elephant farms dot the coastline, as do a host of up-and-coming wineries.
Plett is the kind of place that ensures you don't waste a minute indoors - not even at night, which you'll want to spend among the bronzed young bodies in the main drag's patio bars. An afternoon would be well-spent at Goose Valley Golf Club, one of the town's two courses.
South African icon Gary Player built Goose Valley at the Turtle Creek Estate in 2002. He has a house on property and stays here with his family about two weeks a year.
Sitting just off the coastline, Goose Valley is filled with native wildlife and offers stunning views of the ocean and mountains. It now compliments nearby Plettenberg Bay Country Club, the town's first course, established more than 70 years ago.
This is one of the least expensive of Player's 200-plus designs worldwide, peaking at 270 rand ($38) in the summer. It fills a valuable niche on the upscale Garden Route, which has 16 courses, including seven Player designs.
"A lot of the courses are too expensive on the Garden Route, we feel," said Vaughan Tucker, director of golf at Goose Valley. "They're not priced competitively enough. It's in our favor, because a lot of people come see us because it's a good price."
They get a lot for their money. This 6,048-meter course doesn't skimp on either scenery or shot-making.
A tricky dogleg opening hole kicks off a front nine highlighted by back-to-back par 5s at Nos. 7 and 8. The seventh doglegs left from an elevated tee, running down through a valley to an elevated green. The eighth plays fairly straight, but with fairway bunkers blocking visibility to the green.
Bunkers often come in clusters around Goose Valley greens, some resembling the traditional sod bunkers of the British Isles. Give 'em a good whack with an iron and you'll see they're artificially built with sand bags. That doesn't make them any less penal, though - some of the lips are very steep.
The signature 11th hole is Goose Valley's prettiest, playing downhill to a green guarded by dense native fynbos and stunningly framed by the Tsitsikamma Mountains and bay in the distance.
The finish is gentle. A 272-meter 17th plays slightly downhill to a green that's drivable with a good poke. The modest, narrow par-4 18th deposits you in front of a bustling clubhouse patio.
Goose Valley offers plenty of bang for your rand, with beautiful coastal scenery and above-average conditioning year-round. Another plus: The area is more shielded from the wind than the courses around Cape Town.
While you won't find wild elephants or giraffe roaming the fairways like at some South African courses, Goose Valley has its share of exotic wildlife, including more than 100 bird species.
April 23, 2007
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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