Garden Route Top 14
Herold's Bay - Garden Route
General manager: Vacant
Greenkeeper: Igor Duvel (Turfworx)
Club captains: Sean Botes & Emri Vlok
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 70.1 out of 100
Conditioning13.7 / 20
Playability15.2 / 20
Aesthetics11.6 / 15
Design Variety10.3 / 15
Shot Values9.3 / 15
Memorability10.0 / 15
Five tees / Par 72
Yellow 6446 metres, CR75.0/140
White 5987 metres, CR72.8/132
Blue 5380 metres, CR70.8/122
Red 4768 metres, CR69.6/120
Women’s red, CR75.8/133
Women’s green, CR71.9/118
Visitor green fee
Until end March R770
April to October R495
Golf cart R400
Ernie Els 2005
044 851 1263
44 (2021) & 35 (2020)
Oubaai is a stay-and-play destination with the first Ernie Els signature course in South Africa. It’s a beautiful modern links-style course without trees on a headland above the Indian Ocean.
Two interesting aspects of the design are firstly the out-and-back routing – due to the clubhouse being positioned close to the ocean – and secondly that there are five par 5s and five par 3s. It’s renowned for its excellent conditioning.
The first nine heads back inland towards the estate entrance and there’s a halfway house near the Oubaai Hotel & Spa. The course returns to the clubhouse at the 15th green, and a round ends with three scenic holes where you look down on the Gwaing River gorge and then finally encounter ocean views at the attractive par-3 17th. The closing hole tees off high above Oubaai Cove, where ships used to offload cargo more than a century ago. It is an unusual boomerang-shaped dogleg left par 5 in front of the clubhouse. The bold line for the second shot is across the corner of a deep bushy ravine.
Oubaai is exposed to the wind, and the opening three holes are pure links design in terms of their look, creative mounding, bunkering and run-off areas. Golfers have wide fairways at which to aim though, and the challenge lies more in the approach shots to relatively small greens.
Additional Course Facts
61 by Ernie Els on January 4, 2014
61 by Jovan Rebula on Oct 24, 2015
The par 5s are all strong holes, from the back tees each of them at least 500 metres. Water guards the green of the 12th. The par 3s are a varied collection, from the signature hole, 141-metre 17th from an elevated tee to a narrow green which looks as if it’s built on the edge of the ocean, to the daunting 189m sixth played across a ravine.
The luxury Oubaai Hotel & Spa is situated at the entrance to the estate, a 10-minute drive from George Airport, and hosts conferencing and wedding functions. The award-winning Freesia Spa offers seven treatment suites. There are four restaurants, and a leisure centre with swimming pools.
Full-length range at estate entrance, close to Oubaai Hotel & Spa. Home to ASM Academy owned by Adam McKinlay (Southern Cape PGA Pro of the Year) which offers junior programmes aimed at US college scholarships. PGA pro Maurice Prinsloo does lessons. Club fitting with TrackMan. Head office of Switch Grips SA. At the clubhouse there is a short-game area and separate putting green.
Did You Know
1/ Oubaai is close to the holiday resort of Herold’s Bay, where Ernie Els and his family have had homes for many years. It was where he entertained members of the International team during the 2003 Presidents Cup match at Fancourt.
2/ Walkers are welcome at Oubaai, with pull carts and clubs to hire.
3/ There are 176 homes and 120 apartments on the estate, all occupied. There are outdoor gyms at various areas. Activities include a heritage hiking trail, fishing, cycling, bird watching hides, and whale viewing deck.
4/ Oubaai hosted 2013 SA Strokeplay championship, won by Haydn Porteous with a 13-under total of 275, and 2010 Vodacom Origins Final won by Justin Harding.
5/ First club in SA to host men’s Interprovincial events in three consecutive years: 2017 Mid-Amateur; 2018 Premier; 2019 Juniors.
6/ Ernie Els and nephew Jovan Rebula, 2018 British Amateur champion, share the course record of 61.
2022 Michael Wallace & Jasmin Furstenburg
2021 Calvin Maia & Jasmin Furstenburg
2020 Pieter Smit & Jasmin Furstenburg
2019 Caylum Boon & Lenza de Jager
Course and Facilities Rating
Oubaai is in a tough place currently as there is only basic service. Mark Wiltshire Golf have left the estate and no longer manage the golf club. No stock in the pro shop. The course is still reasonably good although the bunkers have hardly any sand. Golfers are allowed to place in them. Lack of finance I believe from the North African owners has resulted in the maintenance company (and others?) being owed millions. Amazing that they are still on site and keeping the course going.
Dieter ten Haag
23 January 2023
Enjoyed playing a course which has a strong resemblance on some holes to another Ernie Els design, the Els Club Copperleaf. Found the greens in excellent condition but difficult to read. Pace of play was good even on competition day. The course is in a good condition. The fact that the range is so far away from the clubhouse (next to the Oubaai hotel) makes it unlikely you are going to warm up before your game. Early notice about this peculiarity during the booking process, at the entrance security gate, or even at the pro shop would have been helpful.
Zacharias van den Berg
20 March 2022
A cracking course. Having to play long irons into the lengthy par 4s reminded me that course designer Ernie Els loved a long iron. Some of the fairway bunkers had lost much of their sand, probably due to the wind, but that was the only fault in a massively enjoyable and challenging course with magnificent views.
30 January 2022
Oubaai is a fun course to play, a layout I enjoyed on my latest outing there. Yes, the holes do have a similar feel, but that's a minor criticism for what is essentially a links type design. Each hole has subtle differences which distinguish them from the others, particularly around the greens. Ernie Els has created an extremely playable and attractive golfing destination with plenty of room to swing freely. I like the way his positioning of prominent fairway bunkers -- and there are many of them -- serves as aiming points off every tee. Longer hitters can blast drives over them, and shorter hitters have space to negotiate their way safely past. The greens have looked better, with plenty of poa in them, but they putt well and are receptive. The bunkers are due for repair work, and I hear some may be filled in.
07 September 2021
Would have expected more at Oubaai. Driving range completely on the other side of the course. Need to drive there through two gates. Then back to the first hole if you would like going to practice green. The bunkers had rocks in. No fairway distance markers. You need to find a sprinkler head to find out your distance. The halfway house was disappointing.
13 February 2021
I played Oubaai end of January paying R550 green fee at the hotel guest rate. It was not worth the money. The course was not in great condition. The greens were ropey, the bunkers full of stones, while the bunker walls look like they are about to collapse.
12 February 2021
Lots of good holes to be enjoyed, although a bunch of them feel and look similar.
14 January 2021
The layout at Oubaai provides an interesting Ernie Els design for a good day out. At the time of playing the course was in good condition with the greens running true. The tee boxes were not up to the typical standard, and some bunkers were not consistently levelled. Those points aside, Oubaai is a popular stop with stunning views. One of the best 19th holes on the Garden Route. Worth considering for a tour to this region.
12 October 2020
Oubaai is similar to Pinnacle Point in having a practice range far from the clubhouse. It's at the entrance to the estate, alongside the hotel. It's a reasonably wide course where a long hitter in my fourball had fun all day trying to see which bunkers he could carry. Outstanding greens, but approach shots tore them up! Plenty of pitch marks unrepaired.
08 March 2020
Oubaai is a highly enjoyable course. There's plenty of room off the tee on virtually every hole, and Ernie Els has been creative with the design of his greens. They're slick but there are no funny slopes or ledges. He's taken the wind into account. The layout has a links feel to it, although kikuyu fairways mean you unfortunately don't get much run on the ball. There are several holes where golfers would benefit from being able to bounce the ball in from short of the putting surface.
04 March 2020
Conditioning good throughout the year. Wind is always a factor , with many cross-wind holes, so it is a great test of ball striking.
19 February 2020
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