For those with a love for the game of golf, South Africa offers some rather more extreme experiences on a golfing vacation. Whether it’s the wildlife following you on the well-manicured greens or the highest and longest Par 3 in the world, the adventure is unique.
Located on the road to Paul Kruger Gate in Kruger National Park, Skukuza Golf Course was originally built as a recreational facility for the personnel working at Skukuza Rest Camp. Being stuck out in the middle of the bush, the golf course gave employees a chance to relax and have a little fun. Now, the Skukuza Golf Course has been opened up to the public and is available for visitors to the Kruger National Park.
Located on the outskirts of the Skukuza Rest Camp, the beautifully maintained golf course offers a totally different experience to even the most seasoned golfer. Surrounded by the famous Big Five and hundreds of other animals and different birds, it might be a little difficult to keep your eye on the ball.
The golf course is not fenced, meaning an uninvited audience to your game is a common experience, with impala, baboons, warthog and even the odd inquisitive hippo wandering on to the scene.
There can be a little action occasionally, too. Reportedly a lion once killed a buffalo on the first green and a honeymoon couple had their golf game interrupted when a pack of wild dogs chased an impala across the course. However, park staff are always on hand to keep an eye out for dangerous animals and, if necessary, chase them away.
One thing to be noted, the par 72, nine-hole, 18-tee course has no bunkers, but as they say on the official Kruger National Park website, you are surrounded by “aerial bunkers” due to the many trees on the golf course.
If your ball lands in the water, you are warned to leave it where it is. The video below shows a close encounter with hippos while on the golf course.
Not too far away in Phalaborwa, the Hans Merensky Hotel and Spa also offers a game viewing experience while enjoying a golfing vacation.
The hotel’s 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course was designed by Bob Grimsdell and has achieved world fame due to its unique setting, with many animals visiting from the surrounding bush, including an occasional giraffe or hippo. You might even see the odd crocodile casually sauntering onto the greens. The course has been voted the best walking course in South Africa, just watch out for those crocs.
On a par (excuse the pun) with Hans Merensky is the Legend Golf & Safari Resort, nestled in the Entabeni Safari Conservancy. In a recent blog, Golf Escapes lists the Legend Golf and Safari Resort as offering one of 13 craziest golf holes in the world.
The Signature Golf Course was designed by 18 of the world’s finest golf players, including Justin Rose, Bernard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Padraig Harrington and Trevor Immelman. However the golf course has risen to fame due to what is dubbed the Extreme 19th, renowned for being the longest and highest par 3 in the world.
Nestled in the UNESCO-registered Waterberg Biosphere, the surrounding area teems with wildlife and untamed bushveld and is hugged by the surrounding mountainous scenery. The area is hard to beat for a great golfing vacation.
The Signature Clubhouse is a spectacular place to visit after a good game of golf with its restaurant, barbecues, a pool and an amazing sky walkway between the venues, offering great views over the mountains and the golf course.
While the golfing members of the party enjoy their game, there is plenty on offer for the rest of the family in the way of scenic helicopter flights, safari tours, mountain and quad biking and children’s activities.
This year pack up your golf bag and head to South Africa for the ultimate golfing vacation, where spotting wildlife is, quite simply, par for the course.
[Photo Sun City Golf Course via Flickr by South African Tourism]