Course Review and Comments
When I played this course, it's nr 4 ranking was constantly on the back of my mind. Did it truly deserve that high spot amongst SAs great courses? I certainly cannot dispute its spot in the top 10 or even the top 5 for that matter. The service levels that we were welcomed with was awesome, from the usher that carried our bags in to the lady that served our breakfast. Needless to say the clubhouse with its adjoining facilities are top class. There is a great warm up facility next to the course where the practice balls are supplied for free.
There are no caddies at the course so you either have to take a cart or trolley. A caddie might have come in handy with some of the really tricky holes, but the course guide is pretty helpful to overcome that problem. Note that the doglegs are somewhat exaggerated in the course guide so don't overcompensate at these holes. We took carts on the course, which speeds up play but I would have loved to walk and take some time to absorb the beautiful surrounds. The view down the sloped par 5 8th is absolutely stunning. This green forms a peninsula into the estuary, which when viewed from an elevated position is a sight worthy of a top 10 ranking position on its own. All around you are surrounded by the magnificent beauty of the Western Cape, including the indigenous fynbos, the rocky Kaberg mountains and the estuary. The fynbos and estuary form an integral part of the play and are pretty daunting at times. The former served as chief thief of a large quantity of my new Srixon golf balls.
The course was not in its greatest condition at the time I played. A new drainage system had just been installed so remnants of this work was still quite evident. Also Hermanus had just received an above normal volume of rain so the course was pretty wet, so some of the bunkers were filled with water and the fairway, in parts, was water logged too. However as a golfer, you have to take these sort of things into account. I believe that within a few weeks the course will be back into the prestine condition for which it is renowned. As for the rest of the course every aspect of the conditioning as magnificent. It is quite obvious that a lot of care has been taken in both the design and maintenance of the course and the turf team at Arabella must be complimented on their high standards.
The risk and reward aspect that Peter Matkovich designed into this course is very apparent on many of the holes, no more so than on the short par 4 17th. On most of the holes you have the option of going big with your driver, but the margin for error is small. On the other hand the approach shot may be made far simpler by a great long drive. Alternatively you can tee off with a long iron and ensure that you make the fairway albeit leaving you with a slightly more challenging approach shot. My take is that higher handicaps user the latter strategy. Needless to say you need to stay on the fairway, the rough is trouble and in fact in most part it is marked by red stakes. This makes life slightly easier allowing you to drop out of a hazard rather than reloading for a lost ball. Still scoring is tough on this course especially if your radar is slightly off. The key is to hit straight. Easier said than done though!
The fairways are wide, with a narrow semi rough followed largely by fynbos rough. The grass is relatively soft underfoot and easy to hit out off. The bunkers are soft and fluffy but very consistent and therefore playable. The greens are superb, not only in terms of condition and readability but also in their shape and undulations. I found the pace of the greens to be consistent throughout the round in terms of their speed. There are also no hidden demons on the greens with no balls turning in strange directions. The greens are of a medium pace and for me was really a very enjoyable aspect of the round. Water hazards are placed very strategically on many of the holes and in most cases compliment the risk and reward design as apposed to merely punishing a wayward shot. Trees are certainly not the main flavour of the course but there are some tree lined fairways.
There were two very memorable holes for me. The first is the scenic par 5 I mentioned earlier and the second is the 284m par 4 17th. The 17th fairway is flanked by the estuary on the left and fynbos rough on the right. The tee box is at the back left of the fairway requiring a drive over the estuary to get to the fairway. You have the option of going big on your drive and possibly even reaching the bunker-surrounded green in one. Alternatively you can take an iron and play your tee shot to within 100m of the green. The latter is a far safer option but the temptation to go for the green is big. The options that you are faced with at the tee box are endless both in terms of your line and club selection. I reckon you can tee off with anything from a 7 iron to a driver depending on your appetite for risk. It's a magnificently clever hole with a breathtaking view to boot.
Arabella is a must play. The fees are steep but the experience is worth it. I had a voucher which made the cost punch more bearable. At almost R800 for a round you would expect a feast and that's exactly what you get. The course is unique in its design and surrounds so you will get in an unequalled experience.
More user reviews for Arabella Golf Club
May 07th, 2013 19:03
ARABELLA GOLF COURSE
1 .5hours from Cape Town.
The Arabella golf course has a demanding and exceptional design that offers a challenging experience to all levels of golfers. It puts professional gol
March 09th, 2013 18:00
I have played at some great courses, but would have to say this is the most beautiful course I have ever played, and I am glad I took my camera along. Beautifully maintained, wonderful scenery, flowe
March 20th, 2011 13:57
Most enjoyable experience, especially my par on the 17th. Some challenging holes, well, all holes were challenging because I'm a 27 handicapper but even so, the holes were challenging but not impossib
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