TEES AND SEAS APPLY ON THE KZN GOLF COAST
Golfing tourism is big business the world over and, despite the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has halted global travel and left the hospitality putting in the rough, chances are that all will be back in full swing in the not too distant future.
Research indicates that golfing tourism – tipped as one of the most significant global sporting industries along with soccer and tennis – is set to grow. According to the “Global Golf Tourism Market 2020-2024” the golf tourism market is poised to grow by 4 percent per annum, adding up to a massive $ 5.36 billion during 2020-2024.
Leading global technology research and advisory company, Technavio, is even more upbeat and, just prior to lockdown, reported that the global golf tourism market was expected to grow by close to 11% between 2019 and 2023.
While the timeframe may be different, the reasons remain – increasing interest of golf among youth and growing availability of international standard golf courses. there is also rising government support for the promotion of golf tourism to boost the market growth.
In 2007, two exclusive surveys conducted by KPMG Golf Advisory Services suggested that South Africa, Turkey and Dubai could overtake Spain and Portugal as the most popular destinations for golf holidays.
At present, according to a 2005 report from Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, the lion’s share of the golfing tourism pie goes to the Western Cape at 75%. More than 14 years ago, it was recognised that KwaZulu-Natal had the potential to become the premier golfing destination in South Africa.
At that point, the global value of golf tourism was estimated to be more than US$10 billion per year and growing by 10% annually.
According to TKZN, golf has been transformed from one that has been enjoyed by a few to one that is enjoyed by a broad cross section of society. This has been in part because of players like Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. Golf in South Africa has grown in the last few years. There has also been an increase in the number of developments of golf courses/golf estates.
The research paper notes that: “Golf is a primary motivator to travel. Golf is a major determining factor in choosing the destination. Golf will be the primary leisure activity undertaken on the trip.”
It also claims that 5900 jobs could be created through growing golf tourism in the province. Even in 2005, it was estimated that golf visitors spent about R375 million in the Western Cape.
The KZN South Coast has long been recognised as another major golfing destination and Ugu South Coast Tourism is putting its weight behind promoting the so-called Golf Coast – which has at least 11 top notch courses stretching from Umkomaas in the north through to the Wild Coast in the south.
These offer more than just a wonderful game to both amateurs and professionals – they’re also famous for their 19th holes! At the same time, the region offers plenty for the non-golfers who have some along for the ride. Good weather, beaches and scenery complete the package.
“It’s been very interesting to note that, as lockdown measures have eased, visitors are looking to partake in more outdoor, nature-based activities, with many trying new sports like golf,” said CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT), Phelisa Mangcu.
Fortunately, the KZN South Coast has a fantastic variety of courses in some of the most idyllic locations, as well as so many adjacent outdoor activities to keep the whole family entertained. Whether you’re an avid golfer looking for a golf tour location or just a novice starting out, there’s a course to suit your handicap on the Golf Coast.”
- Umkomaas Golf Club (Umkomaas)
Start the golf tour by teeing off at the beautiful Umkomaas course – the Golf Coast’s oldest golf course. This user-friendly course is well-suited to mid-level golfers, boasts some captivating ocean views and there’s a friendly clubhouse with braai facilities. It also happens to be the home course of South African pro and winner of the 2010 Players Championship, Tim Clark.
- Scottburgh Golf Club (Scottburgh)
This is another user-friendly and incredibly popular semi-links golf course famous for its ocean views. Offering two distinctly different nines, this course will challenge all golfers. When played in winter, the course allows for sightings of migrating whales and other marine activity associated with the annual Sardine Run.
- Selborne Park Golf Estate (Pennington)
Considered one of the country’s premium residential golf estates, this high-quality course was designed by Denis Barker and has played host to many Pro-Ams and the South African Women’s Open. With its well-manicured greens winding through indigenous forests, this is a beautiful but challenging course to play. Selbourne boasts great facilities including a restaurant, world-class spa, accommodation and Barker’s Bar.
- Umdoni Park Golf Club (Umdoni Pennington)
Home to the historic Botha House, this course is steeped in golf tradition. The outward nine offers wonderful views of the coast ideal for whale watching in winter, with the back nine heading into beautiful indigenous forest through groves of magnificent and Umdoni trees. Experienced golfers will certainly appreciate the layout of what’s considered one of the area’s top courses.
- Port Shepstone Country Club (Port Shepstone)
This is a stunning golf course that’s tucked between the Indian Ocean and the Umzimkulu River. The front nine of the course is very open, which means sea breezes but also allows for big drives, while the back nine winds its way through thick indigenous bush along the banks of the mighty Umzimkulu. As the region’s premier country club, Port Shepstone is equally popular with locals and visitors, boasting a range of great facilities including bowling greens, a cricket field, tennis and squash courts, with many championship events held here.
- Harding Country Club (Harding)
Just a 45-minute drive inland from Port Shepstone within the friendly farming town of Harding is a lovely nine-hole course, which offers two tee boxes for an 18-hole experience. Surrounded by farmlands and forests, this is a really scenic little course suited to those looking for a more relaxed round of golf. It’s also famous for its 19th hole hospitality where visitors can enjoy a bite to eat and enjoy a drink with some of the friendliest locals after the round.
- Margate Country Club (Margate)
This course has a number of interesting water features, including a stunning ravine that makes the 11th hole the most challenging of the round. It caters to golfers of all abilities, and the clubhouse offers great facilities and landscape views. Situated in the ‘Fun Capital’ of the region, visitors to this course have their pick of great accommodation, eateries and nightlife – just a chip and a putt away!
- Southbroom Golf Club (Sothbroom)
This is one of the most popular courses in the region and is situated in the picturesque town of Southbroom. Each of the 18 holes on this short course has its own unique feature. The 4th hole, a par three, has been described by legendary South African golfer, Gary Player, as one of the most beautiful holes in country. Host to the South African Women’s Open and many corporate events, this course offers a true golf challenge and is complemented by a well-stocked Pro Shop, a clubhouse with incredible ocean views, and 19th hole which is equally popular with locals and visitors.
- San Lameer Golf Course (San Lameer Estate – Marina Beach)
This world-class golf course is located within South Africa’s first golf estate established in 1973. A beautiful but testing golf course, with incredibly well-manicured greens and water coming into play on 12 of the 18 holes! Its tight layout, narrow fairways, large bunkers and thick rough make this a challenging but exciting round of golf. San Lameer also played host to the South Africa Women’s Open and Masters over the years and most recently hosted the South African Men’s interprovincial.
- Port Edward Country Club (Port Edward)
For a pleasurable round of golf, Port Edward is a great bet. It’s a nine-hole course with double tees for 18 holes, but the undulating terrain and big coastal winds will test any golfer’s fitness levels and skill. Relaxing at the 19th hole after a round and meeting some of the friendliest locals makes this a legendary experience!
- Wild Coast Sun Country Club (Wild Coast Sun)
Consistently rated in the top 10 golf courses in South Africa, the one-of-a-kind course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr and incorporates the natural topography and geography of the region for a great golfing experience. The course forms part of the South African PGA circuit with a par 70 card rating. Its spectacular layout includes a fair number of elevation changes while playing across gorges and waterfalls. While the wind on this short course can make for a trickier round, it’s ideal for mid- to high-level players and a great test for a lower handicap. Those who are unlucky on the greens can always recover by spinning the wheel of fortune at the Wild Coast Sun Casino!