Royal Cape

Cape Town - Western Cape

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General manager: Cassie Viljoen
Greenkeeper: Francois Gelderblom
Club captains: Christie Cloete & Kate Tipper
Chairman: Bevin Ely
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 72.6 out of 100
Conditioning15.2 / 20
Playability15.1 / 20
Aesthetics11.6 / 15
Design Variety10.8 / 15
Shot Values9.6 / 15
Memorability10.3 / 15

Course Summary

Three tees / Par 72

Yellow, 6065 metres, CR72.4/127
White, 5709 metres, CR70.5/127
Red, 5236 metres, CR67.9/117
Women’s white, CR76.8/137
Women’s red, CR73.7/131

Visitor green fee

R550 affiliated
R950 non-affiliated
Golf cart R420

Course designer

Dr Charles Molteno Murray (1929); Golfscape (2000)


021 761 6551

Previous ranking

41 (2023), 40 (2022) & 43 (2021)

South Africa’s oldest golf club has a championship quality parkland course set against a scenic backdrop of the Cape Peninsula mountains.

Founded in November 1885, Royal Cape is a club that remains steeped in tradition, providing a quality experience on and off the course.

Golf has been played on this Ottery site since 1906 – the club’s first 20 years were spent at Wynberg and Rondebosch Common – although the current routing and design of the tree-lined layout only emerged in 1929 after a rebuild by Charles Murray, club member and foremost turf consultant of his time.

It was the first Cape Town course to host the SA championships (1910), the year in which Royal status was conferred by King George V in commemoration of a visit by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and a son of Queen Victoria. He was attending the opening of the first Union parliament in Cape Town. It was the 36th club in the world to receive the “Royal” designation, and the fifth outside the British Isles, after Montreal (1884), Malta (1888), Melbourne (1895) and Sydney (1897).

Until 50 years ago Royal Cape was in the countryside, surrounded by small holdings midway between Table Bay and False Bay. Today the course and its surrounds retains an attractive natural look in keeping with the Cape fynbos landscape. Water is used sparingly and firm fairways are the norm in the Cape’s hot dry summers.

Royal Cape’s modern, spacious, contoured and slick greens are a feature of a layout which comprises an interesting mix of holes, all but two running in a north-south direction.

The colonial-style clubhouse is almost 100 years old, built in 1923 (the foundation stone was laid by Prince Arthur while Governor General). It remains a single-storey building which attractively straddles the putting green and the opening tee boxes of each nine.

The M5 highway from Cape Town city centre takes golfers straight to the club entrance.

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

62, Andrew Georgiou, 2015 Cape Town Open (31-31, 8 birdies, 1 eagle); 62, Tom McKibbin, 2022 Cape Town Open (29-33, 10 birdies); 62, Darren Fichardt, 2023 Cape Town Open (29-33, 8 birdies, 1 eagle)

Feature Holes

Royal Cape has one of the country’s longest par 4s, the 470-metre third, with a sizeable water hazard built into the right half of the fairway in the last 150 metres. It has an ingeniously creative green complex. Another strong par 4, the 14th, is recognised as the signature hole, unique in its design as it doglegs sharply right around a large fairway bunker, tall pine trees and a large storage dam. Three of the par 5s, the fifth, seventh and 16th, each turn and curve around trees to create interesting challenges.


Ten SA Opens / 1996 Ernie Els, 1991 Trevor Dodds, 1983 Charles Bolling, 1965 Gary Player, 1953 Jimmy Boyd, 1936 Clarence Olander, 1929 Archie Tosh, 1923 Jock Brews, 1910-14 George Fotheringham. 16 SA Amateurs (8 men, 8 women), Western Province Open, Vodacom Players Championship, Cape Town Open.

Practice Facility

One of the few Cape Town courses to have a full-size range, 100 metres from the first tee. Short-game area close to first tee, and practice nets. Teaching professional Wayne Bradley is the club pro.

Did You Know

1/ Royal Cape is regarded as Cape Town’s premier tournament venue, home to the Cape Town Open since 2012. The club has hosted 10 SA Opens, second only to Durban CC, the last in 1996 won by Ernie Els, who birdied the last three holes to edge Brenden Pappas by one. The 1965 Open saw Gary Player become the first player to break 70 in each round of the championship.

2/ History was made at Royal Cape in 2009 when Swaziland teenager Nobuhle Dlamini became the first black person to win the SA Women’s Amateur.

3/ Royal Cape had a club professional as early as 1893. Walter Day’s responsibilities included the upkeep of the course on Rondebosch Common. Hugh Gordon Stewart, an early member, won three SA Amateur titles and 10 club championships.

4/ Tom McKibbin (Northern Ireland) opened his second round of 2022 Cape Town Open with 7 birdies for a front nine of 29. He equalled the course record of 62.

5/ 2022 British Amateur champion Aldrich Potgieter (17) won the 2022 SA Junior Strokeplay at Royal Cape with a 22-under total of 266 (69-66-66-65), a lower score than ever recorded in the Cape Town Open.

6/ Sunshine Tour pro Sean Pappas had a rare albatross 2 on the 11th in the third round of the 1999 Vodacom Players Championship, won by Nic Henning.

Club Champions

2023 Cole Cruickshank & Isabella Heber (age 13)
2022 Cole Cruickshank & Zara Le Keur
2021 Cole Cruickshank & Isabella van Rooyen
2020 Brian Mampies & Hayley Davis
2019 Adrian Maree & Zara Le Keur

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Course Reviews
Royal Cape in its long history has likely staged more professional tournaments, including 10 SA Opens, than any club in this country, and even though at 6 220m it is stretched to its limit, every year it continues to provide an excellent examination for Sunshine Tour pros, currently at the Cape Town Open which began in 2012. The scoring average was lower than usual (71.07) but the south-easter was kind. Royal has the best greens in Cape Town in terms of design, roll and speed, and they are testing in summer. This year they looked softish yet had to be watered after hot days. Royal should be a par 71 layout. The Sunshine Tour played the 435m 11th as a par 5 and the third (492m) as a par 4. The shorter hole averaged 4.35 into the prevailing wind, and the third 4.28 downwind. Both should be 4s for members and pros.
Thomas Souness
12 February 2024
Royal Cape is in sublime condition. Fairways well grassed and tightly cut, bunkers in great nick, greens exceptional, firm, fast and true. It is indicative that one's putting stats improve immeasurably when playing a course that pride themselves on quick greens. This should be encouraged at more of our Top 100 courses.
David Frost
14 December 2023
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Royal Cape has some fine examples of mature stone pine trees, and sadly several were lost over an extremely wet winter (rainfall was 1200mm) where they fell over under their own heavy weight. Something like 40 trees in total. Everyone notices the absence of that giant Pinus Pinea which stood beside the practice short-game area. It was iconic, possibly as old as the clubhouse, which had its centenary in 2023. It went down in September in the final storm of the winter. Another prominent stone pine guarding the left side of the par-5 fifth is still there in all its magnificence but has had its branches trimmed, so you can ease a drive under its canopy. There's plenty of water still on the course, fortunately in dams and hazards which are full to the brim, enhancing the attractiveness of the holes, particularly around 3 to 5.
Stuart McLean
21 October 2023
Royal Cape is in top condition no matter the time of year, as I found on this particular visit. There are always projects on the go and I'm glad to see changes have been made to areas that were out of character with the rest of the course, such as that left of the third fairway.
Warren Minster
26 June 2023
Royal Cape is steeped in tradition, and another milestone in the club's history will be the centenary of the clubhouse in 2023. It is an attractive building, its rooms and corridors packed with interesting and rare memorabilia. The narrow front stoep overlooking the putting green is a time-honoured place for golfers to gather, all part of the enduring character of this club. The first and tenth tees are conveniently just a few paces away. The course itself is one of the best maintained layouts in the Cape, and consistently so, and every time I visit another step up in quality which makes the overall experience so memorable. The presentation is impressive while the fairways are magnificent carpets where placing is not permitted or required. They resemble those at courses in Gauteng which have the advantage of summer rain. Quite an achievement in the heat and wind of a dry Cape summer.
Stuart McLean
17 December 2022
Royal Cape is in great condition, particularly the fairways and greens.
David Frost
18 November 2022
Course is impressively neat and greens perfect.
02 November 2022
Royal Cape must have the best greens in the Western Cape: pure, smooth, true and quick. The club has a winter special green fee for visitors.
Henry Trevena
14 June 2022
The fundamentals of Royal Cape remain some of the finest in the Cape Peninsula, with holes offering good shot value - testing accuracy off the tees and finesse around the greens - and a solid mix of design variety testing a golfer's range of shots. The par-4 sixth hole demands a drawn tee shot that I appear to be incapable of hitting! The greens were in good nick, but overall the course was let down by inconsistent fairways and general scruffiness. I appreciate that it is hard for a club like Royal to compete with the budgets of the finest in the land, but one can only dream of what could be considering the "bones" and architecture.
Hamish Houston
05 February 2022
Royal Cape exudes history, charm and class. Being our oldest golf club it warrants a must play on a golfer's bucket list. Consistently one of the best conditioned courses in the country. There's plenty aesthetic value throughout the course and mix of hole design. The course is flat which some feel weakens it. It used to feature more mounds on holes which I feel should be re-introduced. Only weak area is down the left side of the long par-4 third hole which is out of character with the rest of the course. The fairways require a second cut of rough. Clubhouse and course staff friendly and welcoming.
Warren Minster
13 January 2022
Royal Cape is looking picture perfect, and must rate among the best presented courses in the Western Cape in terms of its conditioning, alongside the likes of Arabella and Pearl Valley. What is different this year is that following good winter rains all the many dams and water hazards are full to the brim, enhancing the Aesthetics of the property. The hazard on the right side of the long par-4 third has water at the same height as the fairway, seldom seen in the past. And the natural wetland hazard on the par-3 fourth reaches almost to the edge of the green, making a front pin position that much more daunting. Top marks too for the excellent memorabilia project in various parts of the clubhouse, reminding everyone that this is South Africa's oldest golf club, founded 136 years ago.
Stuart McLean
18 October 2021
Despite poor tees recently levelled, resulting in lost growth in the grass, Royal Cape is in excellent condition. Whilst condition is important, Royal Cape fails to implement small but necessary improvements to the course that can be done in-house. The result is that despite the condition of the course it boxes well below its weight. This is reflected in its Top 100 ranking.
David Wren
01 June 2021
Great course to play if you are solid off the tee. Missing a fairway calls for a chip out from the trees 95% of the time. The course does not play long, is easy to walk and good value for money. Different course if the wind is pumping though.
Jaco Buys
12 May 2021
The Royal Cape greens are pure and in the best condition I’ve ever seen them, excellent to putt on. Tees let the course down but there is a programme in place to level them in September.
Henry Trevena
18 April 2021
A friendly course with level fairways and wonderful greens complexes.
Jamie Thom
14 January 2021
Several courses around the country have understandably let standards slip under Covid regulations and a reduction in maintenance staff. But not Royal Cape, even though they no longer have a golf director. This venerable club is still as magnificently presented as always, from the clubhouse furnishings through to all aspects of the golf course. It's difficult to find anything to fault. It is picture perfect. What remains particularly special about old courses like Royal and others is how quickly you can walk 18 holes. Teeing off late in the afternoon, when the course was quiet, two of us were round in 3 hours. That's an enjoyable experience.
Stuart McLean
07 January 2021
This traditional club is steeped in history as the oldest in South Africa. It's wonderful to browse around the clubhouse and look at the beautiful way that history has been displayed and maintained.
Keith Simpson
21 December 2020
The first and 10th tees have been re-levelled, most fairways have been widened to make the course more playable. Greens a bit slow but smooth and true, bunkers have been re-sanded, and all dams are full, so no shortage of water for summer. Well done Royal Cape.
Henry Trevena
05 November 2020

Royal's greens are the most consistent in the Cape. A little slow perhaps (9.2 on stimp) but true and smooth. Bunkers were well maintained over lockdown and the quality and consistency of sand is good. Fairways in good condition. Unfortunately some players don’t understand their responsibility in filling their divots. Tees are not level. The first and tenth have been done and hopefully the rest will follow. All dams are full so the course should be well maintained this summer.

Henry Trevena
28 August 2020
Royal Cape's presentation is excellent and it is clear that the staff and members are taking care of the course by putting sand in divots and raking bunkers, something which is not happening at other Cape courses.
Anton Bezuidenhout
25 August 2020
A classic and demanding championship layout. Course in generally excellent condition apart from the tees, a number of which need renovation. Wet underfoot with recent good rain which bodes well for the summer.
David Leslie
17 August 2020

Royal Cape provides an interesting test and includes reachable par 5s which epitomise "risk and reward." The views, service and pro shop are top notch. I was impressed with the friendly and knowledgeable service team who made an effort to welcome guests. The par 3s are a treat, with varied pin positions requiring exact shot-making. Royal Cape is a great walk which will appeal to most golfers.

Jon James
17 March 2020
Currently the best course in Cape Town.
Mark Lynam
27 February 2020
Royal Cape is in probably the best condition it has been in 5 years. Greens remain really good after the Cape Town Open. The fairways are great to play from. Well worth a visit! In a wind from the yellow tees the course is a monster. Occasionally I play from the red tees and it's been the most fun I have had in a long time. Makes you think more than usual!
Cassie Viljoen
24 February 2020
A classic old course that remains a great test of golf with narrow fairways, small greens and generally wind for protection. In good condition and always a pleasure to walk and play.
Ivan Palframan
20 February 2020

Royal is a great test of golf as evidenced by the Cape Town Open. In excellent condition and playable for all standard of golfers. Highly recommended!

David Leslie
16 February 2020
In really good shape following the Cape Town Open. A must play ?️?
13 February 2020
The best by far of the old Cape Town courses. Consistently in good condition with excellent attention to detail.
Anton Bezuidenhout
13 February 2020
Royal Cape has just concluded another excellent Cape Town Open. A stiff wind in the final round certainly showed up the strengths of this parkland layout, as the average score on Sunday was 73.28. The 14th showed its mettle as one of the best par 4s in the Cape, rated the most difficult hole. The excellent ninth was also a handful, while the par-3 13th was third toughest for the pros. Only three players broke 70 in the conditions.
Stuart McLean
10 February 2020
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