Knysna is among the most popular courses in the Garden Route, a short but challenging parkland layout on a scenic site adjacent to the Knysna Lagoon. It provides a gentle contrast and fun experience compared to Knysna’s two spectacular resort layouts, Pezula and Simola. And its overall conditioning is often the equal of those two, with magnificent modern greens complexes.
The course is continually undergoing improvements to the design, notably the bunkering, thanks to the fact that one of its members, Sean Quinn, is among South Africa’s leading course architects. He currently works overseas for Jack Nicklaus, but Knysna is his home.
Knysna’s layout, with many holes framed by tall trees, is unique in having shallow saltwater tidal pools and channels as hazards which add to the course’s character and beauty. The 371-metre sixth has a daunting tee shot played to a fairway guarded on both sides by water.
What stands out is the superbly balanced variety of different holes, continually shifting direction. There is no monotony here. Some holes are generously wide, others perilously narrow, and they usually play longer than the card suggests. The par 5s and par 3s are particularly excellent, with the 175-metre 12th a fierce test on a windy day, its green surrounded on three sides by water.
The front nine ends with three fine holes which epitomise the variety of the challenge on offer. The seventh is a fabulous risk-reward short par 4 where the angled and well-bunkered green is an enticing target off the tee for long hitters; the eighth a scary par 3 with an island green; and the par-5 ninth cuts through the wetlands to a wide, shallow green.
There’s a spacious short-game area between the clubhouse and tenth tee.
2021 Norman Beggs & Lizzie Lightley. 2020 Johan Greeff/Doug Griffin & Lizzie Lightley. 2019 Johan Greeff & Lizzie Lightley.
Knysna has been a regular host of the Southern Cape Open for the country’s top amateurs. The 2019 event saw Jordan Duminy beat fellow Pinnacle Point member Christo Lamprecht in a playoff after they had tied on 18-under 270. Christiaan Burke had the low round of 63.
Did You Know
1/ The stylish modern clubhouse rose from the ashes of the previous building, which was gutted by a fire in 2010, a year after the club centenary. The entire clubhouse and its contents, including trophies and memorabilia, were destroyed within an hour. Just 15 months later, in April 2011, the new clubhouse was opened.
2/ Branden Grace shot 59 in a social round in September 2015 (the card is framed in the clubhouse); he grew up at Buffels Bay nearby, and his coach Peter Berman is based in Knysna.
3/ The club has 922 members, and is busy in the summer when the “swallows” from the northern hemisphere return to their holiday homes.
4/ The course is low-lying and used to be prone to periodic flooding from the high water table of the Knysna Lagoon. In 1996-97 the greens were raised to protect them, and replanted with bent grass.
5/ Knysna has had three courses in its history, and the current one at Hunters Home began as a 9-holer in 1951. The second nine was over the road on Leisure Isle where there was a 19th hole at the hotel. This was a semi-links and a favourite of Bobby Locke. He and Peter Thomson played an exhibition match at Knysna in the mid-1950s.
Course and Facilities Rating
Pace of Play
Some holes are a little monotonous, but the course is a true challenge. Keep it straight, lots of water lurking.
24 December 2022
Knysna is fun to play, one of the flattest courses so it makes iron play relatively easy. Wind is almost always a factor and there are interesting holes. The only gripe is that during the wet season the ninth fairway is often too wet and muddy to use, and a strong par 5 has to be reduced to a very short par 4.
06 December 2022
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It has obviously been a busy first six months of 2022 for the maintenance staff at Knysna with a newish greenkeeper in situ. Much has been done to enhance the aesthetics of the playing experience. Low hanging branches of trees have been pruned back to create views through to other holes, giving the course more of a parkland feel. Standing on the first tee I noticed the ninth fairway was now visible, having been previously hidden by bush. The greens were hollow-tined in May for the first time in years (coring removes thatch and detritus that builds up below the surface, and improves soil structure) and have recovered magnificently. What I find special about Knysna are the tidal waters flowing in from the adjacent lagoon which not only create attractively clean (home to water birds and marine life) and effective hazards on several holes but add to the natural beauty of the course. Stroke 1, the 371m sixth, would be plain without the water guarding both sides of the fairway. And many a tee shot has found a watery grave at the challenging 175m 12th.
24 June 2022
A new head greenkeeper and more attention to the aesthetic aspects of the course has made Knysna a pleasure to play in recent weeks. Despite being an easy walking course it can be exceptionally tricky (especially for higher handicaps like me) as all the greens are raised, making 'clubbing up' essential on most holes, especially against a breeze. Water features abound and can be daunting, especially the 'island' par-3 8th which is intimidating! The clubhouse has excellent facilities, including a bright, cheerful halfway house, plenty of outdoor seating and a well-stocked bar. The spacious ladies' changing facilities are the best I've come across anywhere in the world.
12 January 2022
Easy and relaxing course with some challenging holes, especially the approach shot to greens. Flatter and shorter than most courses which makes it more enjoyable for the mid- and high-handicap.
Willry van Breda
07 January 2022
Knysna GC is like a good song on a great album, never getting the full recognition it deserves, and perhaps will always be in the shadow of Pezula and Simola. However, if you chat to the regular players, they love it! And it is easy to see why. A short open course with little danger off most tees. But do not be fooled into thinking "short is easy" as local knowledge is a must for scoring well. Position, position, position! Particularly if the wind is blowing or you are mis-hitting your approach shots. The course is still recovering from recent flooding and the greens and fairways were not in top condition, but it is still a fun day out. The best part for me was the challenge of navigating the course for the first time. It makes you think off the box as there are many ways to successfully play each hole. One thing to improve would be the tee boxes (a victim of the rain).
04 January 2022
Great course with wonderful greens and excellent hospitality in the modern clubhouse. A must play in the Garden Route.
28 September 2021
September can be a difficult month for organising a Garden Route tour. Uncertain weather and greens being hollow-tined. We couldn't play at George, Fancourt or Pezula for that reason. But we still found a great selection of courses to play for five days, and the weather was sublime. Even better, the courses were not busy. Knysna was a wonderful surprise for a course so far down the rankings. Interesting 18 holes with variety and challenges (the wind was blowing hard). The greens were excellent, as were the clubhouse facilities.
Dieter ten Haag
12 September 2021
The signature par-5 ninth hole was being played as a short par 4 on my recent visit, due to much of the fairway being waterlogged. This distinctive and intimidating hole (it has penalty areas both left and right of the fairway) bordering a wetland area has long had a history of a boggy fairway following any rain, and the club is now doing its best to improve the drainage on No 9. Another notable change to the course is the widening of most fairways to improve the playability. Other than the ninth hole Knysna is looking superb, and the quality of the greens is the equal of any course in the Garden Route.
06 June 2021
A pleasant experience, although very flat. The holes weave among tall trees and marshy floodplains. Excellent greens complexes. Fairways lack definition because it is flat and doesn't have high levels of conditioning. You need local knowledge to master the nap on the greens.
15 January 2021
Knysna Golf Club is a gem with a wonderful array of varied holes including the risk-reward short par-4 seventh, the island green par-3 eighth, and challenging 505-metre 16th with its peninsula green. The course has water hazards, tree-lined fairways, slick greens with subtle slopes and borrows, and excellent bunkering. Plus a great halfway house and 19th hole.
15 December 2020
Value for money, easy to walk, in good condition, great greens and friendly staff. An enjoyable experience.
Willem van der Merwe
18 November 2020
Knysna is a contender for being the Flattest Golf Course in South Africa, perhaps the planet, yet the 18 holes have plenty of character and make for an interesting challenge. The greens here are superbly designed and a feature of the course, with quality putting surfaces. Quick too. There are plenty of strategically placed tall trees, tidal water hazards, good bunkering, and you can see that considerable work has gone into presenting this course in the best possible light. It's also a Great Value club and very welcoming to visitors. The catering staff gave us breakfast before golf for R50, and calamari and chips afterwards for R60.
27 October 2020
Knysna Golf Club appears to be a club on the move. The clubhouse is welcoming and the layout provides some interesting holes, with the narrow par-5 ninth being especially strong. The greens provide a stern defence to a relatively short layout. The Par 3s provide good variety. The local "Amen Corner" of holes 10 to 12 was a notable feature. Knysna provides value for money and a good tour stop in this part of the Garden Route.
14 October 2020
Always a lovely day of golf at this Garden Route gem which plays second fiddle to the two big estate courses in Knysna. The Knysna Golf Club is a great example of South African hospitality at its best and provides great value for money. There are challenging holes and the course plays surprisingly longer than you would think. The par 5s particularly are strong risk-reward holes. The condition was very good for a busy low budget course.
04 October 2020
I was pleasantly surprised with this course. Good vibe in the clubhouse and a welcoming club. Course has a nice look and feel to it. Very playable even in the wind.
28 April 2020
A firm favourite. Flat but well laid out to make it a challenge.
27 March 2020
This under-rated course offers outstanding playability for all levels of golfers. Brilliant greens, lovely trees and surroundings, and a good course to walk and play. The clubhouse is friendly, with good food and service, making this a great place to visit.
19 February 2020
The old member golf clubs in the Garden Route really compete well with the new resort and estate experiences in the region. Knysna GC is a fine example. It might not have the wow factor of neighbours Pezula and Simola, yet the overall experience here is still outstanding. It will appeal to golfers who prefer an old-fashioned easy-to-play layout, and it's the only course in Knysna where you can walk 18 holes.
10 February 2020
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