Published by : Stuart McLean - 01 February 2023

Woodhill continues its phenomenal rise up the Top 100 rankings, started two years ago, and becomes the ninth Peter Matkovich design inside the Top 50, easily the most of any single designer (Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player each have six). The Pretoria East course breaks in for the first time at No 50. It has moved up 20 places in the last two years.

Woodhill is a beautifully presented layout within an attractive residential estate, and it scores high in three of the six Criteria used to assess courses. It received 12 out of 15 marks for Aesthetics (scenic values inside the course), 14.8 out of 20 for Playability (challenging low-handicaps while providing enjoyable options for high-handicaps) and 15.4 out of 20 for Conditioning.

Woodhill owes much of its character and beauty to the varying topography of the site, with some significant changes in elevation in places which boosts Design Variety, and the plentiful indigenous trees on the estate which have matured over almost 25 years and play strategic roles. It has both challenging and sensible holes, creative designs, but nothing unusual or outrageously different, which is rare for a Matkovich canvas.

The 12th is one of Woodhill’s feature holes, a long par 3 from a high tee.

But Woodhill was completed in 1999, when Matkovich was at the height of his success and beginning his best work. Of his nine courses in the Top 50, seven were opened from 1999 onwards. His only early works in the Top 50 are Prince’s Grant (1994) and Steenberg (1996), which feature in today’s rankings announcement at No 43 and 45 respectively.

Matkovich, whose latest creation, La Reserve Golf Links in Mauritius, on which he has worked for nigh on four years, interrupted by Covid, is due to open later this year, can put his name to 20 courses in the current Top 100, of which 16 are originals, and the other four redesigns. Only three of them are not connected to a residential estate.

Seven Matkovich designs are featured in today’s announcement of courses ranked between 41 and 60. They are a diverse group from four regions of the country competing against each other for prominence.

Ebotse Links (42) is an outlier due to the specific links theme of its layout, Prince’s Grant and Cotswold Downs (52) have similarities in the extreme ups and downs of their KZN terrain, Zebula (57) is pure Limpopo bushveld, Woodhill and Steenberg pristine parkland, while San Lameer (60) is unique in its plentiful use of water hazards and wacky risk-reward holes. Other than Prince’s Grant, which is down one place, all of them have moved up in the rankings this year.

Zebula is a Matkovich course in the Limpopo bushveld. This is No 8.

Cotswold Downs, incidentally, is ranked No 1 in Greens for this rating period with a score of 8.67 out of 10, a clear winner over The Links at Fancourt and The Club at Steyn City.

The courses between 41 and 60 are of strong quality, which results in fluctuations from time to time, because all 20 in this instance are separated by just three points. San Lameer at 60 has 69.3 points and Royal Cape at No 41 is on 72.5. Plettenberg Bay, which has been locked in this group since 2007, has fallen five places to No 49. Gowrie Farm loses its Top 50 position and drifts out four places to No 54.

High man-made dunes are a feature of Matkovich’s Ebotse Links in Benoni.

Gowrie Farm in the KZN Midlands is already progressing to become a full 18-hole course rather than a clever hybrid design with 12 greens and alternate routes. Work on shaping seven new holes has begun under designer Guy Smith’s guidance, and we look forward to the unveiling of a “new” course either later this year or in 2024.


  • Woodhill 7 to 50
  • Zebula 6 to 64
  • Els Club Copperleaf 5 to 51
  • The Woods 5 to 57
  • Ebotse Links 4 to 42
  • Steenberg 3 to 48


  • Serengeti 5 to 44
  • Plettenberg Bay 5 to 49
  • Gowrie Farm 4 to 54
  • Euphoria 4 to 55
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