• Holding court

    Fancourt Outeniqua
    Taking a swing - avoid the water right

    My first round at Outeniqua affirmed everything I already loved about Fancourt.

    Everyone has their favourite. The one course which they would gladly spend the rest of their playing career one if hypothetically told they could pick just one track to play on repeat for their remaining years.

    Montagu at Fancourt is my choice – not an easy one but being pressed, it remains number one.

    It’s a special place … the experience is world-class, it’s far enough from home to turn it into a trip, I’ve only ever played there on golf tours to the region, which adds to the enjoyment factor and there are some standout holes; none better than the 17th and 18th. Sitting on the balcony waiting for groups to come in or better yet, playing in the last group and having your teammates and hecklers chirping from a little distance away is one of my favourite golf occasions to replicate.

    Once, having flared up an old injury just two days before a trip, I walked on crutches around the course because missing out was simply never in the equation.

    Most conversations about a ‘perfect destination for golf’ include Fancout and it seems everyone has their favourite of the three on offer. I’ve not yet experienced The Links, almost always top of the list when it comes to best courses ever played.

    Somehow, this weekend was my first round on Outeniqua.

    The course has a superb layout and the variety of tee options make it possible for players across the handicap spectrum to have fun on a demanding test when played from the tips. That’s an underrated factor because most golf tours or fourballs will include the weekend hacker or 18+ handicapper, it helps keep everyone in the game.

    The bunkers around Outeniqua, both fairway and greenside, are extremely well placed and make you think about every shot. I played my way around the course without finding one but my playing partner and foe for the day almost hit double digits, so it’s quite possible that the next venture won’t be so fruitful.

    Three of the four par 3s are standout holes – they are beautiful to look at which is crucial for golfers who will only tee it up at the course once before ticking it off their ‘must play’ lists, two have the threat of water and two have severe undulations to factor in when deciding what to club.

    The first hole, now with the addition of the water on the left, and the par 4 fifth, where water dominates the right side of the fairway, are great golf holes with the ninth being a great test especially for those who don’t hit it too far. The little hazard running form the left and guarding the front of the green make it a perfect finishing hole on a green that will examine your stroke especially if putting down the slope to a front hole location.

    The back nine is as memorable with a fairly gentle start with 10 and 11 both birdie holes. You could easily be under par by the time you stand on the 14th tee box looking down at the water on the right and up at the green. It’s a long hole and you’ll need two good swipes to get on in regulation to a fairway narrow green with a large bunker on the right requiring a precision approach into the flag.

    The 17th is a great hole and far harder than the 18 stroke index that it plays. The fairways slants down to the water which runs down the left. Most will play as a three-shotter with just too many bunkers protecting the green and of course, the threat of water.

    18 – a par 4 – has a great view of the surrounding holes with water catching your eye down the left. It’s a good finishing hole with 3, 4 and 5 all potential scores as you look to decide your game or close your experience with a par.

    If Montagu, which is set to reopen in September 2018 after some six months of renovations, was my favourite course to repeat play, then Outeniqua has certainly snuck into my top 10 because it matches it’s fellow Fancourt track on all the key elements.

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