Golf the Globe: Fancourt Golf & Spa Review
As part of our new “Golf the Globe” series our PGA Professional Paul McLean reviews one of Greencard’s favourite destinations – Fancourt Golf & Spa Resort located on South Africa’s Garden Route.
Fancourt Golf Blossoms in Gorgeous George.
South Africa is now synonymous with golfing excellence. From some of the best players through the decades, including Locke, Player, Els, Goosen, Immelman, Oosthuizen and Schwartzel to some of the finest venues in the world, hosting major golf events like the Nedbank Challenge and the Alfred Dunhill Championship. If like us you are an avid golf traveller, South Africa has got it all.
At Greencard we have taken our clients to some of the world’s greatest resorts and a there are a few that draw us back time and time again. Fancourt Golf & Spa Resort, near George on the stunning Garden Route is unquestionably one such venue.
Click an image to see our Fancourt Golf & Spa Resort Gallery
Over the past 30 years Fancourt has grown to be South Africa’s premier golf resort and is home to the number 1 ranked golf course in Africa, The Links, which is also ranked number 38 in Golf Digest’s Top 100 courses in the world and scene of the 2003 Presidents Cup. The resorts other two courses, the Montagu and Outeniqua are also ranked in the top 20 in South Africa.
But it is not just the courses that attract people from all over the world to Fancourt. Our non-golfing guests are also in for a treat. The hotel boasts 115 luxurious rooms and suites all with stunning views including the Montagu Course. The five-star rooms and suites offer the ultimate in classic elegance and comfort and all within an easy walk to the golf club and restaurants.
Foodies will not be disappointed either. The estate’s four restaurants are just as renowned for their food as the golf courses are for their quality. Local specialities including Springbok and Crocodile are well worth a try. A Greencard favourite is the South African Mixed Grill in the Club Lounge. Definitely a post round feast to satisfy a hard-earned appetite. And of course, you cannot go to South Africa without sampling some of the best wines in the world. There is no shortage of choice for our wine buffs to get their fix.
Away from the resort, guests can enjoy game drives, golden beaches, shark diving and some breath-taking scenery as well as some wonderful al fresco dining. All are available a short distance from the hotel.
Fancourt Golf Course Review
The Greencard Tour Event will see four tournament rounds over the Fancourt Montagu and Outeniqua courses. Both courses offer stunning views including the Outeniqua Mountains and surrounding area.
Please click an image to see our Fancourt Golf Course Gallery
The Mongtagu Course
The original course at Fancourt is both visually stunning and tactically challenging in equal measure. There is no shortage of memorable holes with water coming into play on no fewer than ten of them. We have picked out four of our favourites for you.
The hardest hole on the course starts with a daunting tee shot. Hitting the fairway is paramount to giving players a chance of hitting the green in two. Any miscue from the tee box will mean a potential lay-up with the second shot to an equally tough approach.
For longer hitters who can carry the left-hand bunker from the tee, there is still a demanding second shot over water to a green protected front and back by bunkers ready to gather any wayward shots.
The Green Is 30 yards deep so even a good approach can leave you in three putt territory. Take 2 points and run if you can get them on this stunning a par 4.
Hole 8 – Par 3 – 186 yards
A lovely hole that can be made all the more difficult by a fiendish pin position. The further right the flag is positioned the more water there is to carry to reach it. The safe bail out is left, however a solitary bunker lurks for anything too conservative.
Whilst not the longest hole on the course, it is protected by one of the many water hazards that serve to test your mettle on every shot. There is no future in being short, so the back of the green is the preferred target regardless of the pin placement.
For the lower handicap golfer this hole offers a birdie chance for those brave enough to go pin-seeking, but beware, any mis-hit can lead to a watery end to any chance of even a par.
Hole 17 – Par 3 – 175 yards from
The signature Par 3 of the Montagu course at Fancourt Golf Resort is not overly long. However as with many of the other holes there is a huge amount of H2O to contend with. The bail out is definitely to go long to avoid getting wet feet but not so long to catch one of the pair of bunkers guarding against the ultra-safe shot.
Once you have navigated the water there is a huge green waiting to examine your putting skills. You will have had sixteen holes to familiarise yourself with the fantastic smooth greens by this point however this one will really test your distance control. Another hole to take two points and move swiftly on.
Possibly one of the best finishing holes in golf. A Par 5 that on paper, the longer hitters will fancy getting home in two shots. But beware the overhanging trees and moat-like hazard guarding the green make any attempt to reach in two a strategy not for the faint-hearted
For those choosing to plot their way down the hole, positioning each shot correctly is a must to avoid being blocked out by trees or being left with a very trick approach. A large green is surrounded on three sides by yet more water with a large bunker on the fourth. It is a good chance for a three-point finish if you can stay dry, but it will certainly make you concentrate right to the end of this magnificent course.
The Outeniqua Course
Although it is ranked below the Montagu and the Links course at Fancourt, the Outeniqua is still ranked number 14 in the whole of South Africa. Gary Player put his hand to designing the course and as with the Montagu, water plays a part on the majority of the holes although it is a course that suits all levels of golfing ability. We have selected four of the best to talk you through.
The signature Par 3 on the course is similar to the 8th hole on the Montagu course only this time the water comes in from the left. Most players will be hitting a long iron or wood into the green, so the safe play is down the right to take the water out of play. However, if the flag is on the left of the green it will leave a difficult chip or put to get close to the hole.
For those brave enough to take on a left side pin, any slight miscue left will result in a drop or a re-load from the tee and make a par almost impossible.
Any tee shot finding the putting surface is a great shot and a one or two put could see you gaining a shot on the majority of the field.
Hole 5 – Par 4 – 311 yards
One of the greatest risk-reward holes to be found anywhere. Long hitters may fancy getting close to the green and leave themselves a pitch with a possible birdie in reach. But beware, anything other than a straight shot will result in either a watery grave down the right flank or a second shot being played from the rough towards the water from the left side.
For the more conservative golfer a fairway wood or iron from the tee is the safe play but a collection of fairway bunkers are brought into play for any shot not hit precisely. A relatively short approach is made slightly more difficult by the ever-present water right and a massive bunker running the length of the green on the left side.
A good chance for 3 points but also could be an expensive mistake if your strategy is not on the ball.
Hole 13 – Par 4 – 404 yards
A rare dog-leg on the Outeniqua Course that requires two good straight shots to find the green. Long hitters may try to cut the corner to make the approach easier but if the line is not correct then any gain in distance could be negated by having to avoid the trees with the second shot.
For most golfers a good tee shot between the two fairway bunkers will leave a mid to long iron second shot to a lightly protected green.
If you do manage to find the putting green, then your putter will need to be hot to convert it into a solid two points. Measuring around 35 yards front to back, this green can be the scene of a Hamlet moment if not read and judged correctly. Manage to score two points and chalk it off as a success.
Hole 17 – Par 5 – 505 yards
The length of the hole belies the difficulty of a great up and over par 5. Whether you are a longer hitter going for the green in 2 or playing the hole as a three-shot hole, there is risk and reward form tee to green.
While distance is not the main concern on this short par 5, there are no fewer than eight fairway bunkers to thread through on your way to the green which is guarded by water short and left and another bunker on the right.
The downhill approach shot makes club selection more difficult and can see an apparent birdie chance turn into a rather damp dropped point or two.
Without question one of the finest courses in the world, The Links at Fancourt Golf Resort is a remarkable piece of design and course construction that tests the ability of the very best golfers. Gary Player regards this as one of his greatest feats of design and those lucky enough to play it will not be disappointed.
A combination of magnificent landscapes with mountain views and traditional links style layout will create some of the best golfing memories anywhere in the world.
The Greencard Golf Tour does not use The Links for our event however we are happy to arrange a tee time for any guests wishing to play, subject to availability and booking criteria.
Bookings are now being taken for our trip to South Africa which as well as nine nights and five rounds at Fancourt Golf Resort will see us take in five nights at the fabulous Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town and rounds of golf at Pearl Valley and Steenberg.