• Golf course review: Prince’s Grant

    Golf course review: Prince’s Grant

    History of the Prince’s Grant golf course and estate

    The history of this beautiful tract of real estate goes back to when it formed part of the farm Hyde Park, owned by George Wilson Prince. Prince had acquired the property on what would become the Dolphin Coast of northern KwaZulu-Natal by deed of grant on 20 October 1856 from Her Majesty Queen Victoria.

    “The seed was planted as far back as 1976,” says Guy Smith, developer of Prince’s Grant, who transformed the dream of building a golf course into reality.

    While travelling and working in the United States, Smith had attended the US Masters and the breathtaking sight of Augusta National fully groomed for the season’s first Major championship in all her spring glory had inspired Smith, as it has countless golf fanatics before and since.

    It would take almost 20 years before the Pietermaritzburg attorney and passionate golfer could realise his long-term goal to unveil his own golf course, and the process to create Prince’s Grant was anything but plain sailing.

    During the construction of the golf course layout, fierce winds bedevilled attempts at sprigging the land with paspalum, the grass of choice that has been proven to thrive in subtropical, coastal regions.

    The wind would blow the tufts of grass clean out of their bedding – windbreaks had to be constructed to aid the planting, but even these failed to prevent a lot of the grass from being blown away.

    The golf course was finally officially opened in June of 1994, a decision that Smith, with hindsight, says was too soon. “I probably should have ‘semi-mothballed’ the course, because we were basically insolvent having spent so much money on maintaining the course in the first two years.”

    The golf course was eventually sold to the homeowners in 1999, and Guy Smith has gone on to complete another successful golf development at Gowrie Farm in the KZN Midlands.

    Developing the golf course layout at Prince’s Grant

    Much of this golf course’s appeal lies in the wise use of the magnificent natural topography. Some beautifully positioned tees afford impressive views and the backdrop of the Indian Ocean makes playing this golf course layout a very special experience. Some truly classical shaping and strategic bunkering makes for a collection of superb holes that will appeal to the purist, and the use of gimmicks was fortunately avoided.

    At no time during the round at Prince’s Grant does one feel that a hole does not fit the terrain – and although a look at the distances on the scorecard might suggest that the more proficient player might overpower the golf course layout, this is not so. Of course the wind is a major factor in tempering the golf course layout’s resistance to scoring, but even on a calm day club selection is never easy.

    Manager of golf operations and PGA professional Frans Strauss, who has been based at Prince’s Grant for 12 years, names the par-three 3rd, the 12th and the golf course’s signature hole, the 15th, as his favourites, but there are other exceptional holes in the golf course layout.

    “The 3rd can be set up to play from 130 metres to 180, and the wind is funnelled in a way that the flag may suggest the shot is being played into the wind, yet on the tee it might seem that the opposite is true. The hole has a stroke index of 13, yet during tournaments the hole always proves to be among the five most difficult holes,” he says, explaining that even the better players often get their club selection wrong.

    So many of the holes at Prince’s Grant are perfectly defined, and as at many good golf courses, the first-timer instinctively knows which line to take off the tee. There are no hidden surprises, and unless a player become greedy and attempts to take on shots that are beyond their normal capability, the opportunity to score well, even in the wind, is available.

    Prince’s Grant – more than just a golf course

    Prince’s Grant is more than a golf estate, it is also a golf resort, and the clubhouse is also home to a lodge that has an impressive staircase leading to well-appointed rooms. There is a wonderful feel of this being a true ‘golfer’s lodge’, with portraits of golfing heroes adorning the walls.

    As clubhouses and 19th holes go, this is undoubtedly one of the best. For residents and visitors, there is also the option of fishing, canoeing, protected walking trails or simply relaxing on the private, uncluttered beach. As a ‘stay-and-play’ venue, Prince’s Grant ranks with the best.

    Unlike some high-budget creations, this golf course layout will never date – and passes the acid test with flying colours; once golfers have experienced playing here, they will long to return.



    ■ The course is without trickery, a classic coastal golf course layout that rewards shot-making.

    ■ The clubhouse – a great feel where there is no doubt that golf is the main focus.


    ■ In one or two places large homes dominate the views of the hole, but a minor irritation given the overall quality of the golf course.

    ■ A little far from Durban (80 kilometres), but worth the trip.


    Golf course: Links/parkland type, par 72, rated 72, 6 196 metres. Paspalum tees, fairways and greens.

    Designed : Peter Matkovich, completed 1994.

    CEO: Dr Chris van der Merwe

    Head professional and manager of golf operations: Frans Strauss

    Greens superintendent: Danie Kok

    Greenfees: Out of season affiliated R285, non-affiliated R330. In season affiliated: R320, non-affiliated R380.

    Wednesday special meat competition: R225 includes cart fee.

    Getting there: Travel north from Durban on the N2, take the Stanger off-ramp, turn right at traffic lights and follow signposts to Prince’s Grant.


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