The wine lands of Stellenbosch play home to De Zalze, which takes its name from the three adjoining wine farms. A work of art by designer Peter Matkovich, who gently massaged his vision for the course over the undulating course without compromising the Oak tree-lined Blaauwklippen river which winds its way not only through the golf course but also the estate.
Wine is very much part of the experience with Kleine Zalze, a working wine farm, nestled on the beginning on the front nine around the first, second and third holes. Fairways are often protected by vineyards, olive groves and lavender fields. It may be golf but a sensory experience second to none is offered at the same time.
The Cape Dutch clubhouse is home to a verandah that is engulfed by sun and makes a table hard to come by in the heat of summer. It is a place that welcomes activity and families as a place to meet, eat and enjoy time with friends.
Two accomodation options are an inviting prospect for those ready to make a stay of it while Terroir is a fine dining restaurant that makes its home on the estate.
The course itself is almost always in fine condition and remains extremely popular with local and foreign visitors. The staff add a touch of class and are intent on delivering a five star golf experience to compliment the experience whether it be a holiday stay or a one day visit.
The golf begins with a trick dogleg right par four which has made many regret not warming up adequately. The test begins on the sixth, a long and winding par 5, often played into the wind, that has water down the right and well-positioned bunkers protecting any bail out. The eighth is par five that measures over 460 metres but a good drive will see most going for it in two with the aid of some wind and a big green that sits well below the landing area off the tee. A birdie may sound easy but a wayward drive will have you struggling to score. The ninth is one of the most spoken about holes on the course as it looks presentable from the elevated tee. Wind, the change in altitude and the pond short of the green with no bail out area makes this a very trick par 3 to close the nine.
The halfway house is one of the province’s best before you set out for the rest of the challenge. The 10th offers a gentle start which serves as a perfect foil to the long par four 11th hole; length must be navigated but the large green which slopes down to the right is one that has seen its fair share of missed putts.
The 12th is a tough par three played into a cross wind before the most photographed par four on the course. Take out your longest club and drive the green – just don’t let the water all the way down the left worry you – or lay up and then safely navigate the bunkers that protect the miss to the right. It’s a hole that will see most fourballs scoring a 3,4, 5 and a 6.
The closing two holes are some of the best with the par 5 17th as hard as they come. A tee shot must avoid bunkers in the middle of the fairway and trees to the right and the lay up must enable the perfect approach with a river crossing short of the green perched on the side of the hill.
The closing hole presents two options as you look down and to the right of the green; lay up with a mid-iron to avoid the large tree and river that winds between the fairways or, for the bolder play, aim right with a driver or 3-wood to draw the ball back onto the green. Only only hopes your camera has enough battery power, not only for the tee shot but for the sunset that follows.
One of the best 19th holes in the country, make sure you take advantage of the weather and stay for a meal on the deck overlooking the closing hole to the left and the mountain range to the right.
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