Over this course of the year our playing editor has been counting down his 12 favourite golf courses in South Africa. This month he has selected Durban Country Club.
There’s only one way to describe Durban Country Club: iconic. There are very few golf clubs in the world that can claim to have the history that this club has. It’s the St Andrews of South Africa. Truly timeless.
One only has to mention the tournaments that have been played there, none more than the SA Open, which has been hosted 17 times at the course.
If I were to mention how many of golf’s elite have walked those fairways I’d run out of space in this column. But it would be wrong for me to not mention South Africa’s golfing icons, a certain Gary Player and Ernie Els, who lifted that illustrious SA Open trophy above their heads on the 18th green.
Once you look past the history, you can take in the magnificence that is the golf course. A course that has barely been altered since it was carved out of the KZN dunes in the 1920s. A course that, at times, makes even the world’s best feel somewhat claustrophobic. But at the same time, admiring its sheer beauty.
For me to pick my favourite hole is almost impossible, but after many internal arguments and second guessing I’ve managed to pick one. It’s a hole synonymous with the club: The ‘Prince of Wales’.
The par-three 12th measures no more that 170m at its longest. This makes most golfers hit between an 8- and 6-iron on a flat calm day. But as we all know, a windless day along the Durban coastline is a rarity. Making the a green in regulation can be trickier than one might expect. If you do miss the green, like many have before you, you’ll be met by massive slopes on either side of the green.
These run-offs leave you about 15m below green level, making an up-and-down par almost impossible, hence the hole’s name.
It’s rumored that Edward, the Prince of Wales at the time (later King Edward VIII), missed the green and proceeded to hit it from one side to the other. He eventually walked to the 13th having signed for a 16 on the par three. Hence its iconic status.
With the December holidays ahead of us I can’t recommend a trip there strongly enough. A stroll around the old lady will be a memory that you carry with you for the remainder of your life. As I do.
STONE’S FAVOURITE GOLF COURSES
12 Centurion Country Club
11 Parkview Country Club
10 Royal Cape Golf Club
9 Royal Jhb and Kensington West Course
8 The Lakes at Mount Edgecombe Country Club
7 Irene Country Club
6 The Els Club at Copperleaf
5 Wild Coast Sun
4 Pretoria Country Club
3 Rustenburg Golf Club
2 Durban Country Club
1 To be revealed in January’s issue