Often home to a stop by the Sunshine Tour, Arabella blends natural beauty with one of Peter Matkovich’s best design efforts. The championship course finds itself in the centre of the Kogelberg Biosphere and a stone’s throw away from Hermanus’ famous whales.
A gentle start is quickly forgetten when arriving at the third for the Arabella Turn – a stretch of holes that Matkovich advises that wisdom kicks in or players might stumble. A long par four followed up by a tee shot to the narrowest of landings areas on the next before a long iron into a long, narrow green. The par 3 fifth completes the turn with bunkers left and short placing a premium on ball striking.
The eighth is one of the best par 5s in the country as you play downhill towards the lagoon. It is reachable in two but only for those who hit it miles and possess laser-like accuracy with bunkers to the left and right and marshland over the back. The ninth offers a great photo opportunity before you boldly attempt to drive the green around the dogleg that is carved with the lagoon in mind.
The 13th will have many reaching for another off the tee with water down the right to a wide fairway that runs diagnolly down the left. The fairway then straightens uphill with bunkers at the ready to gobble up your second as well as your approach to the green.
The closing stretch is arguably the best in the province and starts at the 16th with two downhill par 4s, one reachable off the tee. The views may be breathtaking but concentration is required as the landing areas are not as forgiving as the rest of the course. The greens are again well-guarded by expertly-placed bunkers.
The 17th is an equisite par 3 which has the lagoon for company down the right. The hole slopes from left to right in dramatic fashion with your tee shot being pushed towards the bunkers that sit well below the bunker which is your last protection from the hazard.
No matter the wind direction, the final hole is a stern test with accuracy required off the tee with fynbos left and a long bunker down the right. Further right is a watery grave and that theme continues towards the hole which is housed on one of the smallest greens on the course.
This course is Matkovich in a nutshell with his almost hand-placed bunkering, long and undulating greens added to the well-thought out tee shots. It’s a course that must be played twice or more to get the full experience both with club and camera in hand.
No matter your skill level, pull out your longest club on the ninth and go for the green. A miss down the left means you get a second chance at pulling off one of golf’s best shots, driving a par four. Misses down the right are often not as bad as it may seem from the tee.
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