On our way along the Garden Route in South Africa we also stayed in Knysna for a couple of days and enjoyed the comforting and luxurious Conrad Pezula resort. As a hotel guest it was no question that we wanted to play the attached golf course, especially as it constantly ranks high in South Africa’s list of best golf courses.
Pezula is a word in the Shona language and loosely translated means something like ‘high up with the gods’. After playing this magnificent course located on the Eastern Knysna Head we can support the idea that some golf gods might have been involved in creating this beautiful course. It’s a breathtaking experience and you feel some supernatural powers all the way, it’s just not easy to transform that into perfect strokes and scores.
But anyway, Pezula sits on top of the Sparrebosch cliff and offers views over the Indian Ocean to the one side and the Knysna lagoon to the other. With that there is a lot of distraction which again does not support your score either; it’s both the landscape and the course layout which will blow you away.
It’s difficult to put Pezula in a specific golf architecture genre, but like Pinnacle Point, which has a similar look and feel, Pezula wouldn’t fit into a strict segmentation. It features some inland holes with a classic parkland feel, offers some rolling holes without any (or at least very little) vegetation just like links courses – and all this on top of some cliffs with great views over the ocean.
The course in general is quite difficult to play, you would want to place your balls wisely, need some length off the tee and some course experience will help as well. The wind plays a role and also the huge elevation changes from tee to green or vice versa are not to be underestimated.
Pezula is a cart-only course, which is a good thing because the overall setting of the course can be described as extremely hilly and also the distances from green to tee are longer than usual I would suppose.
The service of the personnel was extremely good, everybody is friendly and helpful, just as you would expect in South Africa.
As a collector I was a bit disappointed that Pezula doesn’t offer any yardage book. Their excuse was that their GPS system would do all the work, which is correct in a way, but I would have loved to take something home with me together with the customary logo ball.
Some small areas here and there were unfortunately under repair and even some bunkers were completely closed due to ongoing maintenance work. That’s not pretty but understandable as we played the course just days before the big holiday season kicked off. Usual prep I guess.
Most impressive holes:
- 1: Difficult start, par-5, stroke 1 with a split fairway. Long-hitters can reach the second part of the fairway behind a small but ball-sucking gorge with the second shot. Others have to lay-up and hope for a bogey.
- 2: Along water to the right.
- 5: Parkland par-3.
- 10: Down-hill tee shot followed by up-hill approach shot.
- 14: Probably the most scenic green in the whole of South Africa?! Definitely the most photographed in Pezula. Relatively short par-4 with a medium-sized green, guarded by a totally crazy bunker system. Offering fantastic ocean views!
- 16, 17: Two par-4s with intimidating tee shots for men, playing over huge rough and gorge areas, asking for long hits and enough carry.
As a conclusion, when you are traveling the Garden Route, Knysna is a typical stop. Treat yourself with at least one fantastic round of golf at Pezula if you have time, probably another one at Simola on the other side of town and make sure you enjoy the ocean and the South African hospitality as much as you can. It’s a beautiful country and this spot is particularly pretty.
Golficiency Rating: 8/10