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The Links at Fancourt

George - Garden Route

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Director of sport & recreation: Ryan Reid
Golf director: Jeremy D’Argent
Superintendent: Jacobus Fortuin
Resort Superintendent: Gerhard van Rooyen
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 82.3 out of 100
Conditioning16.3 / 20
Playability14.5 / 20
Aesthetics13.1 / 15
Design Variety13.3 / 15
Shot Values12.3 / 15
Memorability12.8 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 73

Black 6930 metres, CR78.9/Slope 155
Yellow 6273 metres, CR75.6/152
White 5721 metres, CR72.2/145
Red 5124 metres, CR68.7/135
Women’s white, CR78.9/149
Women’s red, CR74.8/140

Visitor green fee

Hotel guest R5 000
(includes caddie and halfway house)

Course designer

Gary Player 2000

Contact

044 804 0030
www.fancourt.co.za

Previous ranking

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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.

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

64 by Nicolas Colsaerts in the 2012 Volvo Golf Champions

Feature Holes

Holes which would grace a list of the world’s best include the long downhill par-3 second, boasting an astonishingly large sloping green; the highly unusual par-4 tenth, called Kilimanjaro, with an elevated green perched at the top of the dunes; and the par-5 16th, over and through the dunes to a hard-to-find rumpled green. There are also two fabulous short par 4s, Nos 6 and 14, their fairways littered with bunkers, with the most diminutive of greens. There are five par 5s, three of them in the last six holes.

Accommodation

Guests staying at Fancourt have a range of luxury accommodation to choose from. There are 113 guest rooms and suites, either in The Manor House (18 suites) or elsewhere on the estate. Its facilities include four restaurants, a spa, gym, hair salon, business centre, four swimming pools, tennis courts, a leisure centre with Kidz Club, cycling, hiking and jogging trails. There is a discount on green fees for hotel guests.

Practice Facility

The Links has its own range and short-game area a short walk from the clubhouse, complemented by a unique 5-hole short course for a fun experience.

Did You Know

1/ The Links is a walking course, with no cart hire, and a caddie for every player is compulsory.

2/ It is exclusive for members and guests, plus Fancourt hotel residents if times are available. There is a separate entrance road away from the Fancourt resort.

3/ The SA Open in December 2005 saw one of the great golfing duels between Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, who at the time were among the top 10 players in the world. They played together the final 36 holes, and were tied on the back nine of the final round until Goosen improbably chipped in for a birdie two at 17 to go one ahead. Els then narrowly missed an eagle attempt at the par-5 18th to tie. Goosen’s total of 10-under 282 was eight clear of the third-placed finishers.

4/ Branden Grace’s big breakthrough came in the 2012 Volvo Tour Champions at The Links when he won a three-way playoff against Els and Goosen.

5/ The first-ever LPGA Women’s World Cup was held at The Links in 2005 and won by Japan.

6/ The Links was ranked No 56 in the World Top 100 by Golf Digest in their 2020 rankings (this excludes courses in the United States). The Links had previously been No 38 (2018), No 43 (2026) and No 34 (2014).

7/ The Links was ranked No 3 in South Africa from 2004 to 2010, then No 1 in 2011, and again from 2014 onwards.

Course and Facilities Rating
Conditioning Ratings
Greens
Bunkers
Tees
Fairways
Presentation
Overall Conditioning
Facility Ratings
Pace of Play
Practice Range
Halfway House
Pro Shop
Service
Locker Room
19th Hole
Course Etiquette
Course Reviews
I was again fortunate to play The Links in the most amazing conditions. A thick fog delayed our morning start and made the occasion feel decidedly Scottish. We played the first hole blind, but on the second the sun had burned through and we were greeted by emerald green tees, fairways and greens, and had the course to ourselves as no-one else had teed off due to the poor visibility. The course is in stunning condition, benefitting from frequent rain. The greens rolled true, the fairways were firm and good shots were rewarded. The clubhouse staff and our caddies were consummate hosts, ensuring that my guest (playing there for the first time) was thoroughly blown away. Five stars all round.
Chris Wood
08 May 2021

I generally have played The Links during winter, so it was good to see the course in summer playing more like a links should with firmer and drier conditions. Conditioning is faultless.

David Frost
29 December 2020
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Most professional golf club setup in the country. Caddies are knowledgeable. Grass is magnificent and kept pristine. Nothing is out of order. An experience like no other.
Marco
24 December 2020
The best course I have played. Challenging layout yet enjoyable for the higher handicap.
Stefan Rudman
18 December 2020
Privacy and exclusivity are the hallmarks of South Africa's No 1 course. But an excellent initiative by Fancourt this spring, the Bucket List package, has enabled more than a thousand golfers who wouldn't normally have access to experience The Links at an affordable price. Fancourt should make this an annual promotion. The Links is all about perfection. A high grass-covered berm now surrounds the entire course, shutting out the sight of rooftops in neighbouring suburbs, so that all a golfer sees is the mountain views. While this is a course which promotes walking, with local caddies compulsory, a magnificent 10-kilometre long cart path has been built around all 18 holes for occasions when carts might be required. And the path is successfully hidden away to make it unobtrusive. The tees on 18 have all been raised by a metre or two to improve the playability of the tee shot and provide views over the resort's beautiful dam to the right. The course, as always, is a special treat to play.
Stuart McLean
25 October 2020
We played on a rainy day which spoiled the experience. Two things stood out for me: the course is extremely difficult for mid- to high-handicaps, and it simply does not run like a links. Too soft.
Anton Bezuidenhout
23 October 2020
The greens were exceptionally good and true. The overall tidiness of the course was impressive. Bunkers consistent and fairways running like a true links. A big improvement has been made to the par-5 18th by elevating the tee boxes by 2.7 metres. They now allow a better view of the fairway and landing areas. A great test of golf and playable for all levels of golfers.
Ponky Firer
03 October 2020

The finest course in South Africa by quite some distance in my opinion. Not only is the course always in superb condition but as a test of golf in all weather conditions it tests every aspect of your game. The golf course is backed up by excellent staff and quality caddies. I have been fortunate to play The Links on some 20 occasions and I have never once left disappointed. I have played it in 40km winds and driving rain and never considered walking off, because the course envelopes you in the experience.

Doron Neuhaus
10 September 2020

Course layout and condition superb. The Links tests all shots in your game and one is called to use every club in the bag. Playing to the correct position is vital and hitting driver isn’t always the correct choice. Position in the fairways and on the greens is vital to good scoring, as is avoiding the fairway bunkers. A great challenge for all golfers.

Tony Bailey
05 June 2020
An absolute treat. Always in great nick and a layout second to none. Conditioning never questionable and the greens run at a speed to test all.
Sandor Kovacs
21 April 2020
Conditioning best I've experienced, notwithstanding lack of rain over summer. Greens exceptional.
David Frost
29 February 2020
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