Golf Course Review: Fish River Sun Country Club

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Fact File
Par – 72

Rating – 72
Length – 6010m

History

The Fish River Sun Country Club course was designed by Gary Player and opened in 1989. It has regularly featured on lists of the top 50 golf courses in South Africa, with a highest Golf Digest ranking of 19 back in 2003. For the past few years, it has served as a pre-qualifier venue for the European Tour’s Africa Open, which takes place in East London.

The Course

Carved out of the indigenous bush with kikuyu fairways and bent grass greens, full use has been made of the natural surroundings and terrain to produce a course that is both challenging and interesting. But much depends on the elements, and in this part of the world, that means the wind. If it blows, ‘The Fish’ as it’s called, is as tough a test as you’ll get. There’s a gentle start with the short par-4 first, followed by the reachable par-5 second, but a change in direction from the third often means a handful of low-stroke holes into a stiff breeze, with the par-4 stroke one sixth hole the toughest of these, with a slight dogleg and a long green. Thereafter, holes seven, eight and nine are more manageable, providing a gentler finish to the front nine. The same cannot be said for the start of the back nine, with the 10th often playing directly into the prevailing wind, and with dense bush to your left and right, caution and something less than a driver is advised. The par-3 11th is fairly straightforward, after which you have the course’s signature hole, the par-5 12th, followed by a pair of tough par-4 challenges, with the 13th requiring you to carry the river with your drive – something that isn’t as simple as it sounds, when into a howling gale. Respite comes in the form of the par-3 15th, after which the 16th offers up an interesting challenge – playing downwind gives you a chance to hit the green in two, but you’re also playing back over the river, and into the breeze is a tough ask. Again, there’s a more gentle finish with 17 and 18, but the latter will punish an errant drive to the right, with a dogleg that needs to be managed correctly. For a coastal course, The Fish is usually in excellent condition, with the bent grass greens a feature of the layout. There are also some stunning sea views from several holes.

Signature Hole

The par-5 12th is the Fish River Sun’s signature hole and it’s a curious hole, running along the river with a sharp uphill dogleg to the green. Driver is recommended off the tea, but anything left is wet, and anything too far right leaves you with a challenging second. The right side of the fairway is where you want to be, after which a second up the hill will leave you with a short iron into a green that is protected on one side by thick bush.

Rates

Visitor – $35 (unaffiliated)
Visitor – $20 (affiliated)
Caddie – $10
Cart Hire – $19
Club Hire – $15

Location

The Fish River Sun Country Club is situated on the Eastern Cape coast of South Africa, between East London and Port Alfred. It is approximately 100 kilometres from East London Airport and 200 kilometres from Port Elizabeth Airport.

Contact
Address: On the R72, between East London & Port Alfred
Tel: +27 40 676 1002
Email: mb_za_fishriver@suninternational.com
Web: www.suninternational.com