Cotswold Downs

Hillcrest - KwaZulu-Natal

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General manager: Mark Renwick
Director of golf: Bryan Coleman
Greenkeeper: Gilbert Chagwe (Matko Group)
Chairman: Andres Meszarich
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 70.7 out of 100
Conditioning15.5 / 20
Playability13.7 / 20
Aesthetics11.5 / 15
Design Variety9.8 / 15
Shot Values10.5 / 15
Memorability9.7 / 15

Course Summary

Five tees / Par 72

Black 6667 metres, CR75.8/145
Yellow 6241 metres, CR73.2/143
White 5903 metres, CR71.9/140
Blue 5543 metres, CR69.7/139
Red 5057 metres, CR66.9/133
Women’s blue, CR76.2/147
Women’s red, CR72.9/141

Visitor green fee

Affiliated R475 weekday & R675 weekend
Non-affiliated R675
Student R327
Golf cart R245 per person

Course designer

Peter Matkovich 2006


031 762 3660

Previous ranking

52 (2023), 54 (2022) & 47 (2021)

Cotswold Downs is a dramatic and sprawling Peter Matkovich design that borders the Valley of the Thousand Hills inland from Durban. With bent grass greens, unique for the region, it has been recognised since its opening as one of the three best conditioned courses in KwaZulu-Natal. After an early hiccup, the estate has boomed in the fast-growing Hillcrest area.

It’s a bold course with many striking features to it, set in a beautiful valley, and exceptionally good fun to play. The land is continually sloping, so the ball is always bounding forward or sideways. The only really flat area is the top plateau on the back nine from the 11th to 16th. Matkovich had to build an unusually steep par 4 to climb out of the valley on to the plateau.

Cotswold Downs has one of the most attractive and functional modern clubhouses in South Africa, a simple yet superb architectural design with floor-to-ceiling windows in keeping with the social requirements of golf in the 21st century. It is essentially a leisure centre rather than a typical golf clubhouse, catering for estate residents as well as golfers with its restaurant and coffee shop. 

Situated in the central valley of the estate, the building was only completed in recent years, 10 years after the opening of the course. It was designed around the operational needs of Cotswold Downs, to maximise usage of all its facilities. The entrance to the clubhouse opens into a scenic courtyard overlooking the ninth and 18th greens, plus a large practice green.

Because of its undulating topography, Cotswold Downs is not an easy walk for golfers, so golf carts are mandatory over this adventurous layout.


Additional Course Facts

Course Record

66 by Brendan Adlam in 2016 club champs

Feature Holes

The most talked-about hole at Cotswold is the par-3 fifth, where the cliffside tee towers 80 metres above the green, which sits on the far side of a river bank. It’s a real parachute par 3. The 17th is a spectacular dogleg right par 4 coming down from the back nine plateau, and the par-5 18th is a mighty risk-and-reward challenge to finish. First there’s a water hazard to carry with the tee shot, and then there’s a large wetland protecting the narrow entrance to an elevated green.

Practice Facility

Magnificent large putting green below clubhouse with short-game area. Warm-up range.

Club Champions

2023 Keaton Slatter & Tara Smith
2022 Brendan Adlam & Judith McDowell
2021 Brendan Adlam & Kerry Potgieter
2020 Charlie Dell & Kaz Eigenmann
2019 Dean le Vieux & Barbara Cochrane
2018 Brendan Adlam & Barbara Cochrane

Did You Know

1/ Cotswold Downs found a unique area to store their fleet of golf carts – in the roof of the clubhouse! The roof area has room for 84 carts sitting on a large slab of concrete which helps keep the rooms underneath cool in summer.

2/ The Leisure Centre is the hub of the estate, having a fitness centre, swimming pool, tennis and squash courts, plus The Kitchen restaurant with its gastro-pub style comfort food menu, and bar. It hosts conferences and events for residents. There are cycling and running trails on the estate.

3/ The Cotswold Downs website has an excellent video flyover of each of the 18 holes.

4/ The club is run on a management basis reporting to a board of directors under chairman Gary Sweeney. There is no club captain.

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Course Reviews
Lovely layout, well maintained and pleasing in most aspects, until you reach the greens. Running at a reported 11 on the stimp, which I imagine is measured on the flat, we found it a frustrating experience. Five-feet putts could end up 10 feet past and on occasion off the green.
Bruce McKay
26 May 2024
The greens for the topography / gradient were too fast, reportedly 11 on the stimp. And there are no flat putts. 10-foot putts downhill would roll out 20 feet past the hole and off the green. Impossible to play with some of the pin positions and green staff totally disinterested in feedback. I am a reasonable club golfer who has played over 70 of South Africa's Top 100 courses. Every other local KZN club was full (Kloof, Victoria, Umdoni Park, Umhlali, Bosch Hoek) and yet Cotswold Downs is wide open. Is there a connection that people simply don’t want to return here? The course is picturesque but until the greens become more playable, I will not be returning.
Malachy Roscoe
26 May 2024
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Beautiful, interesting course among hills and valleys. Fun outing. Such an attractive estate ecologically with thick vegetation concealing houses, and numerous wetlands. The first four holes you're in a rugged countryside environment. It helped the greens weren't quick because some slopes are treacherous. Had to play downhill par-5 ninth as a short 4 due to drainage issues. The other three 5s were excellent in their different challenges, and any poorly executed shot was costly. No 16 was the best of a weak set of 3s, and it's followed by a memorable stroke 1 with awesome hang time on a driver. One of many good 4s. The back nine begins with two short 4s but so steeply uphill to the greens that approach shots were difficult to judge. No 6 was a scary 4 of under 300m calling for pinpoint accuracy. More than a dozen bunkers short of a narrow green and bush behind it.
Dieter ten Haag
18 March 2024
This is the only course where I feel guilty walking on the greens. They are incredible. Slick and receptive. The design is varied with large changes in elevation and sweeping fairways. One of my favourite courses to visit in SA.
Craig Tucker
22 December 2023
Cotswold Downs has some of the best greens in SA. The severe sloping fairways make some holes easier than the stroking indicates. Awesome views from clubhouse deck.
Kevin Stone
25 July 2023
Attractive course with excellent facilities and professional staff. Particularly enjoyed the four par 3s. Wide fairways, but quick and challenging greens.
Bernu Engelbrecht
19 July 2023
Cotswold Downs has incredibly well designed and conditioned greens which can't be bettered in KZN.
Harry Rowles
29 March 2023
Great to see this course back to its high standards after having suffered severe damage and flooding earlier in 2022. The greens were rolling beautifully and consistently and are arguably the best in KZN. For an additional fee of R30 you stand the chance of winning an accumulative pool of money (over R200 000 when I played) with a hole-in-one on the signature par-3 fifth, played from a tee on a cliffside 75 metres above the green. The hole is monitored by a camera. An exhilarating tee shot under normal circumstances, now even more dramatic with the money on offer.
Trevor King
22 December 2022
Perfect conditioning and good variety of holes with risk versus reward on the par 5s and short par 4s.
Jaco Moolman
29 October 2022
This course is a hidden gem in KZN. Played Cotswold Downs on a recent trip and it is by far the best course in the area. Should be ranked much higher.
Idrees Mohamed
24 July 2022
Cotswold Downs is renowned for the quality of its bent grass greens, and right now they are as good as anything I've played. Absolutely stunning and flawless in terms of looks, colour, pace and firmness. PGA Tour quality. Short-siding myself on the first green my chip was a touch firm and the ball kept moving relatively slowly until it reached a slope and finished some distance from the pin. The green contours on the front nine (which has the best holes) are works of art and deceptively tricky to judge pace and line. Putting on them is instructive, and with no one behind me I enjoyed stroking long putts to imaginary pin positions. Cotswold is recovering from the floods (the back nine was closed for some time after a bridge on 18 washed away), although the par-5 ninth remains a short par 4 due to a high water table on the upper fairway. Access to the par-3 seventh is tricky due to the wooden cart path through the wetlands being damaged. I was surprised by the number of bunkers, about 100 in total. There are 13 pot bunkers in a cluster short right of the green at the sixth!
Stuart McLean
02 June 2022
Cotswold Downs provides a stern test of accuracy off the tee and approaching the greens. The greens are in excellent shape and running true. The course playability is impacted by some of the sloping greens which are unnecessarily penal for the club golfer. The fairways are not up to the expected standard with some worn areas, perhaps as a result of the high cart traffic on a course where carts are essential. On the positive side the facilities and service at Cotswold Downs are exceptional.
Jon James
25 August 2021
Greens in excellent condition; always a pleasure to play here.
Trevor King
03 March 2020
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