You're really spoiled for choice on the Garden Route, which has supplanted KwaZulu-Natal as South Africa's Golf Coast. The almost unrestricted (and unpoliced) development of new courses in the past 8 years, however, has produced a groundswell of opposition from locals, who fear that the environmental impact of these thirsty lawns for the well-heeled is still to be felt.
In Hermanus -- The top choice here is the Peter Matkovich-designed course at Arabella Country Estate, 20 minutes from Hermanus, voted the top course in the Western Cape (no mean feat) and home to the Nelson Mandela Invitational. Like Pezula and Fancourt, it has a luxury hotel (www.westerncapehotelandspa.co.za) with a spa. Call tel. 028/284-0000 (greens fees R720 for day visitors or R650 for hotel guests; club rental R295; golf cart R250; caddie R120).
In George -- The original George Golf Club course (tel. 044/873-6116) is a scenic walk that will run you R440, while the much-vaunted Fancourt, South Africa's premier golf resort, offers visitors a chance to play on their Bramble Hill course (tel. 044/804-0000; R290). If you're not up to par, sign up with the Fancourt Golf Academy, said to be one of the best in the world; it will cost from R240 per 30-minute lesson, or R1,200 for an 18-hole individual on-course playing lesson. Fancourt has three other Gary Player-designed championship courses, including two fine 18-hole parkland layouts that are always in the top 10 in South Africa, but you have to stay at Fancourt to play these. Near George (on the outskirts of Mossel Bay) is Pinnacle Point Beach & Golf Resort (tel. 044/693-3438; www.pinnaclepoint.co.za), a multimillion-rand leisure and residential development carved above the cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean (a hotel is set to open in December 2009). While most courses boast 1 signature hole, the 18-hole, par-72 Pinnacle, another Matkovich creation, has no less than 7, each on a cliff edge (greens fees R400 for hotel guests, R750 for visitors; includes cart). Note: Only those who stay at the hotel or the nearby Garden Route Hotel have access to the course.
In Knysna -- Pezula (tel. 044/384-1222), designed by Ronald Fream and David Dale, enjoys another glorious location perched atop the Knysna East Head cliffs. Along with great views, the course boasts a luxury hotel and spa (greens fees R525-R775). Deeper inland, on undulating hills that overlook the Knysna river and lagoon, is the perfectly groomed Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course at Simola (tel. 044/302-9677; www.simolaestate.co.za), named the best new golf course in the country in 2005. The course has an interesting configuration: five par-3s and five par-5s (greens fees R550-R720; includes cart and halfway house). The estate is also home to an ultramodern luxury hotel with 40 units and a spa.
In Plettenberg Bay -- If you've worked your way through George and Knysna, you can now choose between the challenging 18-hole course in evergreen surrounds at the Plett Country Club (tel. 044/533-2132; greens fees R335) and the Gary Player-designed Goose Valley (tel. 044/533-5082; R300).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.