Garden Route Top 14
Plettenberg Bay CC
Plettenberg Bay - Garden Route
General Manager: Tyler Chislett
Professional: Cliff Barnard
Greenkeeper: Matt Hoines (Matkovich Turf)
Club captain: Paul Jacobs
Chairlady: Barbi May
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 71.4 out of 100
Conditioning14.5 / 20
Playability15.0 / 20
Aesthetics12.1 / 15
Design Variety9.8 / 15
Shot Values10.2 / 15
Memorability9.8 / 15
Four tees / Par 72
Yellow 6067 metres, CR72.1/132
White 5835 metres, CR71.1/132
Blue 5458 metres, CR69.1/124
Red 5096 metres, CR66.7/118
Women’s white, CR77.5/136
Women’s blue, CR75.0/129
Women’s red, CR72.5/126
Visitor green fee
Fred Hawtree 1976,
Rob O’Friel 2000
044 533 2132
40 (2021) & 45 (2020)
First-time visitors to Plettenberg Bay CC usually can’t hide their excitement over the discovery of this attractive and cleverly designed course. When the SA Senior Open was played here in 2017 many of the veteran tour professionals were effusive in their praise. And only the champion, Mark McNulty, was able to break par for the tournament.
PBCC is a holiday resort course catering for a high number of visitors, yet can be extremely challenging around the greens. Talented Gauteng North golfer Louis Moolman set a course record 9-under 63 in the first round of the 2018 SA Mid-Amateur, yet failed to break par in his subsequent three rounds.
A major renovation by Gauteng designer Rob O’Friel in 2000 transformed the original layout and boosted the number of rounds. Plettenberg Bay is a busy course considering the relatively small community and another 18-hole facility at Goose Valley. For the last 10 years it has averaged over 100 rounds every day.
Its charm lies in the interesting variety of holes – water hazards, wetlands and streams regularly come into play – artfully contoured greens, and outstanding year-round conditioning. The back nine meanders through a tranquil valley among indigenous bush and contains some of the more beautiful parts. The bunkers were redone by Better Billy Bunker in 2018 to improve drainage. The clubhouse is on a ridge overlooking the course, and while this makes for downhill starting holes on each nine, the ninth and 18th are played uphill.
Read: DESIGN DILEMMA AT PLETT BAY CC
Additional Course Facts
63 by Louis Moolman in 2018 SA Mid-Amateur
The yellowwood is SA’s national tree, a protected species prevalent in the Garden Route coastal forest. Mature yellowwoods flank the fairway and frame the green of No 16, a testing par 4 with a well-bunkered green fronted by a stream. The beauty of this hole is best viewed from the elevated back tee. No 4 is a strong par 5 with a wetland right of the fairway, and a stream crossing 50 metres short of the green. The par 3s vary from a wedge to long iron and have narrow greens. No 14 is a sharp dogleg par 4, with two giant oak trees guarding the entrance to an elevated green.
Redbourne Country Lodge is on the entrance road to the country club.
Excellent short-game area in front of clubhouse, and practice net near first tee. No range, but areas where golfers can hit balls with the aid of a caddie.
Did You Know
1/ Plettenberg Bay originally had a 9-hole course in sandy dunes overlooking the Robberg, but the land was purchased in the 1970s by a property development company, and the golf course relocated inland to the Piesang Valley.
2/ The Piesang River, most of the time a stream rather than a torrent, runs through the course, and numerous bridges have had to be built on the course to enable golfers to move around conveniently.
3/ The course is home to several troops of baboons, who are generally docile, and their presence is an attraction for visitors.
4/ This is a country club, so there are bowling greens and tennis courts for members.
5/ The SA Senior Open has been played at Plettenberg Bay four times between 2017 and 2021, the first two won by Mark McNulty and the next two by James Kingston. The club hosted the 2018 SA Mid-Amateur Champs, and 2019 SA Country Districts.
2022 Richard Bryant & Charlie Ford
2021 Tieg Schulz
2020 Lukas Steyn & Sarah Parvin
2019 Lukas Steyn & Fiona Pocklington
Course and Facilities Rating
Plett last year outsourced course maintenance to Matkovich Golf and conditioning is visibly better. Sad to see the pair of oak trees that guarded the 14th green have died (trunks remain) as it weakens the defence of this short par 4. Interesting to see if the club does anything different with the hole to adapt. Three holes at PBCC, the par-3 sixth, and par-4s 12 and 16, are among the best in the Garden Route, while 15 and 17 are strong contenders.
11 January 2023
I was surprised on my latest visit at the firmness of the greens, especially after rain. The fairways were good but scoring around the greens was toughened by a big first bounce and virtually no indentation on the surface. The course played shorter as a result. As it is peak season it was good to see how the course was being managed and pace of play and bookings weren’t an issue. Not the best I’ve seen Plett, but a great experience and tough layout in the wind.
30 December 2022
Plettenberg Bay, which recently changed greenkeepers for the first time in many years (outsourcing with Matko Turf), has four outstanding par 5s, each varied in their challenges. They really are memorable and add to this course's impressive qualities. No 4 is the longest at 515 metres (yellow tees) and its wide fairway encourages longer hitters who need a big drive to then carry a stream short of the green with their second shots. But trouble awaits an errant drive either side of the fairway. No 7 is short (444) with the narrowest fairway, guarded by a stream on the right and large trees to be confronted off the tee. No 15 (501) begins from a stunning elevated tee on a hillside and proceeds through an attractive secluded valley to one of the trickiest of Plett's greens, narrow and undulating. No 18 (477) is a severe test combining a dogleg left, a steep hill climbing to the clubhouse, and an angled two-tiered green which has a fabulous back right pin position. A club which offers an enjoyable experience on the course and in the clubhouse.
23 May 2022
This short, tight layout is enjoyable to play, yet conditioning has diminished in the past year.
28 January 2022
Plett is without a shadow of a doubt the gem of the Garden Route. Always a firm favourite as the conditioning is superb. It is a challenging layout and literally every hole takes your breath away, especially on the back nine with most holes etched out of the natural forest. One gets the sense of being on holiday yet challenged golf wise at the same time. The clubhouse has a traditional feel and offers good views of the course. Pro shop and bar staff always friendly and welcoming.
11 January 2022
Excellent & challenging layout. The overall conditioning was up to the same high standard across all areas of the course with no obvious weakness.
Facilities are good with the exception of a range to hit balls. Overall a classic parkland layout, one of the best.
10 August 2021
As a regular golfing visitor to the Garden Route, I have always had a preference for non-estate clubs like Plettenberg Bay. Probably because the green fees are much cheaper! Judging from how busy they are these clubs are still flourishing despite the absence of tourists in the area. For me, the reasons why they are successful is not only the green fee, but the excellent conditioning and having a choice between walking and carting. The quality of the greens of these Garden Route courses is as good as anywhere in the country, and Plettenberg leads the way. Their greens are magnificent, although the quick pace makes some very tricky.
Dieter ten Haag
08 June 2021
Always enjoyable and surprisingly tough. Plenty of lost ball scenarios if you are aggressive off the tee!
14 January 2021
Good rains late in 2020 have kept Plett in great shape. Greens are seldom cut very low and are medium paced but true. Always a pleasure to play.
21 December 2020
For many this is the gem of the Garden Route, a course to fall in love with. There are few weak holes, and just about every one is challenging and unique. Especially the back nine in the natural indigenous forest inhabited by serene baboon troops. The condition of the course is among the best, even after the recent flooding of the lower holes. Never miss an opportunity to play here if visiting the Garden Route.
01 December 2020
I've always visited Plettenberg Bay at different times of the year, not just in the season, and I'm constantly impressed at how David Porrill keeps the greens in such amazing condition. They are never anything but sublime, and rolling at a perfect pace for club golfers. No doubt they could be speeded up, yet Plett's sloping greens have some scary pin positions as it is. The course is a pleasant walk in beautiful natural surroundings. The only aspect of the course I would criticise are the tees. Most look as if they could do with some attention.
25 October 2020
A course that bounced back from lockdown in great condition. I have always found the greens really good, rolling incredibly well and true.
10 September 2020
A great course! One of the best kept secrets in SA golf. Harder than it looks. The kikuyu rough is a challenge.
27 March 2020
I challenge anyone to find a lovelier back nine in the Garden Route. The course starts blandly, but gets interesting from the par-4 fifth hole where a stream requires a lay-up from the tee. In my experience the greens are always fantastic. The birdlife is remarkable and home to many Knysna Turaco (Lourie). Be alert for baboons that inhabit the hillside around the course and are known to pilfer anything tasty.
20 March 2020
These greens must be among the best conditioned year on year you will find at any coastal course in South Africa. Every time I play here they are the same; fairly firm, smoothly running unblemished surfaces. And there are some very quick putts. The greens are certainly what makes this a Top 50 layout.
10 February 2020
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