My round at Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay, South Africa has been an absolute delight. The course played itself into my heart and most definitely into my current Top 5 list.
This breathtaking experience led to a Golficiency course review in which the club earned 9 ouf of 10 points—and rightly so. It’s just an amazing golf venue and I cannot express how jealous I am of those who are members at the club or even live on the property. Of course I wouldn’t play the course every day if I could, but having the chance to play it more often than once a year, already is a treat.
Obviously Pinnacle Point appreciates the positive comments and posted the Golficiency article on Facebook. And I’d love to be back one day!
Peter Matkovich, the course architect of Pinnacle Point, regards this place as “the most dramatic golf course site [he has] ever encountered anywhere in the world.” Darren Clarke describes it as “the best golf course on the planet.” And the press voted it as one of the top 10 new courses in the world the year it opened. So all these people can’t be wrong about the course, can they?
After we played St Francis Links, Pezula and Oubaai on our route along the Garden Route, on our quest to play some of South Africa’s best golf courses, we stopped in the lovely coastal town of Mossel Bay. It is home to Louis Oosthuizen and this is where he shot his famous round of 57 at Mossel Bay Golf Club. Not far from downtown Mossel Bay we arrived at Pinnacle Point, a golf estate sitting on top of rocky cliff formations, offering guests and members the most spectacular views you can imagine on a golf course. Pinnacle Point, the estate where Louis Oosthuizen now resides by the way, offers an 18 hole golf course in impeccable condition with breathtaking holes which you’ve never seen in your life.
The ocean is omni-present from 1 to 18, the tee boxes look like nowhere else in the world and you can’t put your camera down because there is another great picture to be taken at every angle. It’s hard to concentrate on golf – which would be necessary as this course is nothing for wimps. You need a decent swing, quite a carry and a well-trained direction and distance control. It’s target golf what’s useful here or you lose some balls.
Pinnacle Point has a strict rule: every ball that’s get sucked in the fynbos or thicket mustn’t be retrieved and you may proceed following the water rule. Any non-consideration can be fined with R1,000. It’s a harsh rule but it seems they want to speed up play a little (because everybody will definitely lose some balls) and also make sure nobody gets bitten by the local snakes. So they declared the whole rough as nature sanctuary and conservation area—clearly only until another billionaire wants to put up his villa at this very spot.
The scenery in general is delightful. The sea, the cliffs, the undulating and rolling fairways just at the rim, the interesting hole architecture, the tee boxes and even all these fantastic houses on the property make you think: “I wanna live, play and die here!”
Course-wise it starts with one or two pretty “normal” holes. Nothing to fancy. Interesting but just above average. Hole 3 is very nice, and holes 4 and 5 kick off with some serious badass stuff. I would say from hole 5 onwards, this course turns into a beast and lets only those through who are brave (and good) enough. I’m not saying the course is unplayable, it’s definitely not, even beginners can have fun here, it’s just that some shots are so intimidating, you need a steady hand to execute all these shots and you must believe in your game. And sometimes you just need to forget the bad shots and enjoy the beautiful view—there you have plenty. For free.
Most impressive holes:
4: Playing on top of a ridge
5: More or less blind tee shot, long carry over some thicket, larger landing area than it seems. Huge bunkers and downhill second shot.
6: Tee boxes hillside laid out like terraces, driving over a gorge in a huge ditch. Second has to go towards a green formation which looks more like a green moon rather than golf hole. Unreal!
7: Par-3 with elevated tees, over a cliff onto a rather small green. Unbelievable hole!
8: Playing alongside the cliffs, normal tee shot with a second shot to another clifftop green
9: Par-3 over a cliff. Incredible hole!
13: Another par-3 over a cliff. Scenic!
17: Longest par-3, difficult but worth it.
18: Par-5 and a true test in the end with huge bunkers on the left, dogleg left, towards the cliff rim with a rather big-sized green.
All those holes I didn’t mention are equally stunning. It’s really difficult to do justice to the whole course as everything is standing out for various reasons.
Pinnacle Point is probably the most scenic course I’ve ever played. It’s not easy, features an incredible design and players are in constant dialogue between club, ball, green and the sea. A club member later told us, for him Pinnacle Point is like Pebble Beach on steroids. We couldn’t have phrased it better. It really is a great test of golf in one of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Some holes I definitely won’t forget my whole life.
I have to say that the complete staff is extraordinarily helpful and friendly. In South Africa service at similar locations is generally very good. People taking care of your clubs, shoes, the carts and so forth. At Pinnacle Point it is just a bit better than everywhere else: service personnel well trained, quick and friendly, the starter knows your name even during halfway or when you’ve finished and they clean your clubs and equip your cart with everything necessary after hole 9, just when you are having a nice snack in the halfway house. It’s even the tiny bits that fit together here. And we absolutely appreciated the hospitality that day.
On a technical note, the carts featured the newest high-end touch screens which helped a lot with the required target golf. Then it’s just on you as the golfer to find the target…
As far as club houses go, this one stands out as well: multi-level sun decks, enough space to sit, relax, enjoy drinks, food and the view. I can’t remember when I so much enjoyed a round of golf before.
And now imagine people like Louis Oosthuizen live here on the property and can play this course every single day… Makes me extremely jealous! That very evening we went out for dinner at the Route 57 restaurant in Mossel Bay. Guess who owns it! Exactly, Louis Oosthuizen. That guy…
I can’t wait for it to happen and to be honest, my knees are already shaking just thinking about all the great hours we will spend on the courses. Everybody seems so positive about South Africa and I’ll definitely check out whether golf has a stake in that opinion as well.
Feel free to recommend another great course that we should play while we are down there. Just comment below, provide name and link and we’ll check it out.
Update: As we will be staying at the Conrad Pezula Resort in Knysna for a couple of days, I’d rather play the attached course at Pezula Golf Club instead of the one by Jack Nicklaus at Simola Golf Club. Both seem to be equally stunning. Also, in George we won’t stay at Fancourt but instead went for the Oubaai Resort, which is home to a cliff-top course by Ernie Els overlooking the Indian Ocean. Pretty similar to Pinnacle Point, so I might play that too. And last but not least, we will integrate the Arabella Western Cape Hotel into our itinerary (or an even better hotel in/near Hermanus), which as you all know feature the Arabella Golf Club, the 3rd best golf course in the whole of South Africa. So all this brings three new courses to the table… guess I have to re-negotiate.
You may or may not know, Golficiency will travel to South Africa later this year. We’ll be heading south again to Africa and this time it’s the Cape region we’re gonna travel to.
The planning and organisation is in full swing but nothing is really fixed yet. Therefore the overall agenda is quite packed, but we’re still trying to figure out how to get all the dots connected.
Obviously on our list is a safari, then traveling along the Garden Route, a bit of hiking, beaching and whale watching at the coast, wining and dining in the Winelands, sightseeing at the Cape Peninsula, chilling in Camps Bay and then finishing and relaxing in the beautiful city of Cape Town.
When you’ve been there already and you know what I’m talking about here, then you are lucky. I’ve never touched ground on South African soil, but I can’t wait to and will definitely read more and more about this great country over the next months.
One of all the great things you can do in South Africa as well is golfing! The British brought their love for the game and it stayed when they left. Plus in this region you have the perfect golf weather all year round. That in combination with numerous first class courses makes this place on earth somewhat special; a golfing heaven.
I talked to quite a number of people already, received a lot of great advice and I’ve read so much about golf in RSA over the last weeks that I’m pretty confident that I came up with a superb list of golf courses which I could play. As I said, the planning is not yet fully done and I have currently no feeling for how many golf days I can manage to squeeze in but if I could, I’d play all of them!
Due to the route we’re taking and to reduce the number of domestic flights, I crossed out two major golf destinations already. One being Sun City and the other one the famous Leopard Creek Country Club, just at the southern tip of the world famous Kruger National Park.
What I came up with is a list of some highly regarded courses and clubs, which I tried to group in sort of the geographical order along the south coast of South Africa (incl. architects):
So that’s the list of courses which is my basis for further planning. I keep you in the loop once I decide on further steps in the organisation process. As always there might be some changes to the current plan but I have to start with something.
I really feel humbled that Gary Player from time to time responds to my tweets. He is one of my heroes, not only for the golf but from a personality standpoint as well and I can’t wait to be in South Africa, walk in his shoes and play golf courses that he had designed. I have a similar strong feeling to Ernie Els and as he’s from RSA as well, I’m sure the trip will be unforgettable.
If you have a personal tip to share, please let me know—via a comment below or the contact site. Thank you.