Three of the new entrants into the Top 100 rankings are revealed on the first day of Rankings Week.
Today saw the announcement of the bottom 20 courses, ranked from No 100 to No 81, and they included one newly opened course, Olivewood in the Eastern Cape, and two courses that had been absent from the rankings for several years, Worcester in the Western Cape and The Lakes at Mount Edgecombe in KwaZulu-Natal.
The biggest climb up the rankings among these lower-placed courses came from two Gauteng courses, Eagle Canyon and Reading, one modern and one old school, and also from Knysna Golf Club in the Garden Route.
Eagle Canyon is a breath of fresh air among the all too common parkland designs in Gauteng. It jumps 12 places to No 83. Set in a quarry, and unfortunately a tough walk, it’s a golf course built for the more adventurous-minded and those who don’t flinch at the loss of a few golf balls. Think of it as Gauteng’s answer to Pinnacle Point, with lots of elevations changes, except here you’re looking up at the clubhouse, instead of down. Exciting holes for those golfers who aren’t intimidated by scary situations.
Reading is a long-established parkland layout at Alberton in Gauteng, which went up 11 places from No 99 to No 88. It’s a strong, championship worthy layout with excellent greens complexes and incredibly good value in terms of the green fee.
Knysna is one of four Garden Route courses in the bottom 20. It only entered the rankings a year ago at No 100 following the closure of Legend (Limpopo) and its good condition, easy walkability and varied design makes it one of the most popular courses in the region, pushing it up to No 91.
ENTRIES AND EXITS
Most newcomers to the Top 100 begin in the lower ranks, unless created by a high-profile big-budget designer, and Olivewood was a relatively low-key creation at Cintsa, on the east coast near East London. The designer was local golfing veteran Algy Kietzmann, and the course has taken time to establish itself since opening nearly five years ago. The layout traverses some spectacular terrain, which makes for some dramatic holes, as well as some awkward ones. One drawback is it’s a difficult walk, yet it is fun to play, and has superb quality greens, of which we are seeing more in the Eastern Cape. Olivewood has positioned itself as a destination venue, having beautifully appointed villas for travelling golfers on site.
Worcester returns to the Top 100 for the first time since 2005. It’s something of a forgotten course in the Western Cape, being a good hour’s drive from Cape Town on the N1 side of the mountains. It’s an early Peter Matkovich design from the 1980s so in keeping with his adventurous style it has plenty of interesting holes, including a double green on 9 and 18 in front of the clubhouse. It’s set in an attractive arid landscape.
The Lakes at Mount Edgecombe was a regular in the Top 100 from 2000 to 2011 before drifting out. Vastly improved Conditioning has deservedly brought it back into the limelight because this is a good challenging layout which has hosted Sunshine Tour events. One of its downsides is that it has long been designated as a “cart course” by the golf club. It’s actually a pleasant walk for those who enjoy their exercise. The Lakes begins quite conventionally, then comes up with some exciting risk-and-reward holes and good par 3s once you descend towards the lakes after which it is named.
Exiting the Top 100 this year are four courses. Vaal de Grace, the Nick Price design on an island in the Vaal River, tumbled out from as high as No 63 due to a lengthy closure following the first lockdown and retrenchment of staff. It did re-open in November, but only for members and home owners on the estate, and for that reason its inclusion in the Top 100 was not considered acceptable. Hopefully the course will return to its former glory.
State Mines on the East Rand, Katberg in the Eastern Cape highlands, and Durbanville in Cape Town were the other casualties.
View today’s rankings here: