The Fancourt Links is one of the world’s most significant and creative design achievements. Gary Player was set the challenge of building a unique and distinctive five-star golf course for Fancourt owner Hasso Plattner, and produced something monumental for the game in South Africa. Golf Digest ranks it among the Top 100 Courses in the World outside the United States.
The world’s best courses nearly all have the benefit of having been built in the best locations, on naturally beautiful terrain. Plattner asked Player to perform wonders on what was a sizeable property adjoining the Fancourt resort, but one as flat as the eye could see, having been a former airfield. Player’s vision, and that of his assistant Phil Jacobs, was to transform the landscape with millions of cubic metres of sand, creating an artificial links with high dunes dividing the holes. They copied features from famous UK links, and introduced some of their own ideas.
Dramatic, unconventional holes, undulating fairways, pot bunkers, and links-style greens in a variety of shapes and elevations make this one of the modern wonders of the golfing world. It might not qualify as a “True Links,” yet it is a surreal experience for those who have the privilege of playing it.
Exclusivity has not only given The Links an extra mystique, everything about the experience of playing there is distinguished, from the clubhouse to the first tee starting rituals, to the menu at the halfway house. It adheres to an ethos of high standards and respect for the game’s traditions. The club has a small membership, and is not open to visitors. However, Fancourt hotel guests do have access to a limited number of tee times.
The course has been in the public eye though and hosted several high-profile international tournaments, most notably the memorable 2003 Presidents Cup match which ended in a spell-binding tie between Gary Player’s International team and a United States team led by Jack Nicklaus. The European Tour visited for the 2005 SA Open and 2012 Volvo Golf Champions. And The Links has hosted the Women’s World Cup.
The Links is not only a highly challenging golf course – even tour professionals have found it daunting – it is also a pristine environmental habitat, its 18 holes bordered by grasslands and wetlands. It is a wildlife reserve, without large animals. Since 2011 it has retained its designation as a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, one of only 905 courses in the world to achieve this global benchmark.