This Week at WorldGolf.com: Jan. 10, 2007
South Africa is the real deal for golf as nation prepares for World Cup in 2010
South Africa is set to host the 2010 World Cup, easily the grandest international stage the country has ever seen, and while the country has become an increasingly popular tourist spot known for its natural wonders and wine routes, it will be the first time the world's eyes gaze upon the "new" South Africa post-Apartheid. The buzz is already in the air, and additions and upgrades to the city's infrastructure and tourism are in full swing.
Having just returned from a two-week excursion yesterday, I would have to say South Africa is sure to impress by 2010 if not already, and my reasons go far deeper than the abundance of foosball tables found on Long Street bars in Cape Town.
For starters, South Africa won't break your bank like Europe and the UK will. While your basic fast, cheap, "Americanized" foods are more miss than hit (national chain Wimpy Burger might sound like a good idea, but it never is. Trust me on this), you can feast on upscale patios and balconies overlooking any beach, game reserve or towering mountain backdrop with a bottle or two of wine for about the cost of a basic meal at Applebee's back home.
Golf-wise, you're in good shape. The Western Cape is littered with courses and growing in number, all with stunning scenery and wildlife at every turn. Goose Valley Golf Club in Plettenberg Bay, a stylish beach town near George on the Western Cape is a Gary Player-designed links course just off the Indian Ocean, where you can get on for as low as 190 rand in the peak season ($28). You can't find that kind of bargain in North America or Europe, not to mention peacocks lounging on tee boxes. Afrikaaners are also a real treat to spend a round of
golf with. If you've got room in your foursome to pair up with some, don't miss out.
And the people are great. I didn't feel like I was in harm's way once (I should also point out I followed the "stay out of Jo'berg" rule followed by most tourists who hear stories of "don't go out at night in groups of less than eight" etc. Anyone who has seen the Oscar-winning film Tsotsi might as well). After staying in about a dozen hostels from the Drakensburgs to Cape Town, the closest thing to jeopardize my group's safety was a wild baboon who chased me for our cookies - which was more funny than frightening, and it wasn't long before a ranger had scared him off us. Poverty is present, sure. But I would say it inconveniences and guilts tourists less here than in many islands in the Caribbean. The large, seemingly unordered ghettos that lie on the outskirts of most towns and the flocks of hitch-hikers on every highway won't do much to hinder your holiday, but will remind you the country still has a long way to go to equality. I didn't encounter any poor white people there.
But after my maiden voyage south of the equator, I'm sold on South Africa as a destination. It offers so much on so many levels. In two weeks, I golfed, rode ostriches and hurled myself off the world's highest bungee jump at the Bloukrans Bridge, and I'm convinced there's plenty more I missed out on.
As always, WorldGolf.com welcomes your comments.
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