The chance to experience the ‘African Golf Collage’ was too good to resist.
Once a year, Rovos Rail attracts golfers and holiday-makers from across the globe for its annual ‘African Golf Collage’. The past voyage was made up of a handful of Aussies and Kiwis before a 34-strong charter group from Hilton Head Island’s exclusive ‘Long Cove Club’ in South Carolina hopped on at our first stop near the Kruger Park.
After 10 entertaining days, that old adage about ‘Southern charm’ rang true; what a charismatic bunch they were. Brought together by Alwyn Vorster (Rovos Rail’s golf director) and accompanied by their head pro of over 30 years, Bob Patton and his own ‘Southern Belle’ Beth, we were treated to an experience of a lifetime.
My wife Engelize and I were invited as guests to play golf with the group and participate in the stop-over excursions, all while taking in life onboard the world’s most luxurious train, as it journeyed through South Africa’s most desirable hot spots.
As you can imagine, we did not need much convincing to jump aboard and before we knew it, we found ourselves hanging up evening wear in cabin 42, the ‘Benguela Suite’. The train is a true masterpiece of craftsmanship, with its inspiration seemingly drawn from the most popular bygone era of Gatsby’s ‘Roaring Twenties’.
Once we had gathered ourselves, looked for a place to wash our tea cups and waved goodbye to the station crew, the African Golf Collage 2017 was now full steam ahead. There were welcome drinks in the observation carriage (referred to as ‘the pub’ from night one onwards) where the conductor, Adam, ran through our itinerary, the housekeeping, history and culture created by the owner and visionary, Rohan Vos.
Each day presented passengers with a choice of playing a round of golf or venturing off on a planned excursion, be it a game drive in the Kruger, a spa day at Champagne Sports Resort or a lagoon-side lunch in Knysna.
After breakfast each morning, the excursion-goers were collected from our stop-over station, while us golf nuts were treated to the country’s premium courses, which naturally included Leopard Creek, Durban CC, Champagne Sports Resort, Humewood, Fancourt (Montagu and The Links), Oubaai and Pearl Valley.
Our evenings were spent exchanging stories around the dinner table before making our way to ‘the pub’, where Rovos’ legendary barman, Gert, warmly greeted us with a row of springbok shots. Yes, ‘springbokkies’.
On Rovos Rail of all places, courtesy of my Afrikaans wife’s answer to one of our new American friends’ question, ‘Lize, what is the single greatest South African drink?’ Her reply was immediate and convincing – and with that, the official beverage of Rovos Rail’s Africa Golf Collage 2017 was born.
Never a dull moment, where memories and friends were made for life and we cannot wait to be back onboard next year!
*If you would like to join us for the African Golf Collage on Rovos Rail in 2019, feel free to email [email protected] (Springbokkies on us)
– Ryan Cairns is a Sunshine Tour professional, driven by Group 1 Nissan, and writes a monthly column for Compleat Golfer