Rating – 71
Length – 5878m (club tees)
Pearl Valley was designed by legendary American golfer Jack Nicklaus – one of the ‘Big Three’, along with Gary Player and Arnold Palmer – and opened in November 2003. It was named ‘Best New Golf Course of the Year’ in 2005 and ranked in the top three golf courses in South Africa in 2011 – both by Golf Digest magazine. Pearl Valley has also hosted three SA Open tournaments – in 2007, 2008 and 2009 – won by James Kingston, Richard Sterne and Richie Ramsay, respectively.
This Western Cape parklands course is regarded as one of South Africa’s top golf courses and the Nicklaus touch is evident throughout, in the form of the lush green all-season fairways, the exceptional bunkering and the clever use of dazzling water features. Situated within an amphitheatre formed by the Drakenstein and Simonsberg mountains, the course has a truly picturesque setting. If you can take your eyes off the spectacular scenery for a moment, a true golf test awaits you. The course was designed to offer daily enjoyment for both members and guests, but it can be quite easily set up for a major championship. As mentioned, there is extensive bunkering, with 81 white river sand-filled bunkers, whilst the cool season grass, the unique combination of fescue and rye, ensures lush green fairways all year round. Traversed by roads in only three places, with a state-of-the-art drainage system that allows play to take place just minutes after a heavy downpour, the Pearl Valley course is well-equipped for all seasons. The total length is 6749 metres off the championship tees, whilst the members’ tees measure approximately 5878m and the seniors/ladies, 5586m. Bunkers on a typical Nicklaus golf course are renowned for being shallow, long and yet not too daunting. The prevailing winds were also taken into account when designing the course, and all the par-3s and par-5s play in different directions. It’s very seldom, though, that the course will play the same as your previous experience. Most importantly, though, the Pearl Valley course is usually in fantastic condition.
The signature hole is the par-3 13th hole, which is arguably the most scenic hole on the course. The water cuts in from the right and a greenside bunker awaits the tentative tee-shot. This hole tests both your ball striking and your nerve. According to Carl Krog, Pearl Valley Golf Estates Golf Manager, a simple approach is the most recommended strategy. “Playing from the club tees, I’ll use my 6-iron and take aim at the right edge of the greenside bunker. With a slight left to right (fade) ball flight, I’ll end up in the heart of the green. A two-putt par is always a very satisfying result for this challenging par-3.”
Visitor – $110 (cart included)
Caddie – No caddies
Cart Hire – $36
Club Hire – $48
From Cape Town, take the N1 highway in the direction of Paarl. Continue on the N1 for approximately 55 kilometres. Take the R301 Van Riebeeck Road (ex 59) turn-off. Turn right onto the R301 and go under the bridge. Within a kilometre you’ll pass Boschenmeer Golf Estates/Paarl Golf Club on your right. Continue for another seven kilometres and you’ll find Pearl Valley Golf Estates on your right.
Address: 1 Pearl Valley Estate, Paarl
Tel: +27 21 867 8000, pearlvalley.co.za