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
Conditioning15.8 / 20
Playability13.4 / 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

R530 Monday to Thursday including cart
R775 Friday, weekends, public holidays

Course designer

Peter Matkovich 2006


031 762 3660

Previous ranking

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

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.

Course and Facilities Rating
Conditioning Ratings
Overall Conditioning
Facility Ratings
Pace of Play
Practice Facility
Halfway House
Pro Shop
Locker Room
19th Hole
Course Etiquette
Course Reviews
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
View more reviews
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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