South Africa’s definitive
course rankings

The way forward in a new decade

SA Top 100 Courses editor Stuart McLean.
SA Top 100 Courses Editor Stuart McLean.

Welcome to South Africa’s first digital site of the Top 100 course rankings.

Our mission is to continue with the rankings established in Golf Digest magazine more than 20 years ago, acknowledged by the majority of golf clubs as the premier system.

We have modified the scoring method and invited public participation in the rating process. All golfers can provide input on courses they have played by submitting ratings for Conditioning, a key criteria in influencing a course’s standing in the rankings.

This is a significant change to the way Golf Digest arrived at their biennial Top 100 rankings, and an innovation in the worldwide context of how courses are ranked.

We will continue to have official raters visiting courses, but also look to the golfing public to help decide our next Top 100, to be announced later in 2020 dependent on Covid-19 lockdown measures.

Eye of Africa Golf Estate

Of the criteria employed to rate courses, Conditioning stands out as the variable that can change month on month, year on year. It is the one criteria that needs continuous monitoring by thousands of golfers around the country to be as accurate as possible.

That’s why I wish to hand this task over to responsible golfers prepared to give an honest appraisal of the quality of a course’s greens, fairways, tees, bunkers and general presentation whenever they play. All you need do is search for the course you played, scroll down to Submit Your Review and Ratings, then enter your personal details, and click away on the golf balls.

With intensive feedback on Conditioning, we can update golfers with the most vital information they need to enjoy their golf, by identifying the courses in every region which offer the best quality playing conditions.

Additionally, we are giving golfers the opportunity to rate their overall experience when visiting courses. Let us know what you think in terms of 8 various aspects of a club’s facility. Your ratings can reward those courses which excel at providing a top-class experience.

WHAT YOU WILL FIND ON THIS TOP 100 SITE

As editor of Golf Digest SA for 22 years, I published the first extensive course rankings list in 1998: A Top 50, followed by a Top 100 in 2002.

The rankings appeared annually until 2012, when like the Ryder Cup they became a biennial feature. The last Golf Digest Top 100 was in the March 2018 issue, and that is the list you will find here on SA Top 100 Courses. But it won’t remain for long.

Pinnacle Point Golf Estate in Mossel Bay on the SA Top 100 Courses.

With fewer than 250 18-hole courses, South Africa has one of the world’s most diverse Top 100 rankings, and an aspirational one. While most Top 100s globally are generally elite gatherings, here we have the very best competing with enjoyable holiday courses and the occasional 9-holer. Course budgets and green fees differ enormously, and Top 100 courses are widespread in every region.

Each member of the Top 100 has its own page containing detailed information about the course, the golf club, its members, and key staff. We’ve hunted down useful and interesting facts from the past and present.

The purpose of this site is not just to identify South Africa’s leading courses, but to promote them and publicise what’s happening in terms of unusual events, course improvements and updates. We are here for golf club members and staff to tell the wider golfing community more about achievements and milestones, no matter how trivial they may seem. Email us, and we’ll decide if it merits national attention.

HOW WILL THE COURSES BE JUDGED?

We have retained six of the seven Golf Digest criteria used to rate courses. These are established global criteria proven over time as the best means of distinguishing the strengths and weaknesses of courses. Shot Values, Playability, Design Variety, Aesthetics, Memorability and Conditioning. The definitions of each are explained under the Criteria link.

Fancourt Montagu Golf Estate on the SA Top 100 Courses

The number of points allocated to each criteria has changed to accommodate the South African landscape. There are 100 points available when rating a course – 20 points each for Playability and Conditioning, 15 each for Shot Values, Design Variety, Aesthetics and Memorability.

REGIONAL RANKINGS

In addition to the Top 100 we are building an extensive ranking of the best courses in eight regions. We have the Top 40 in Gauteng, Top 20 in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, Top 14 in the Garden Route, Top 10 in the Eastern Cape, and rankings for Free State-Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo-North West. These rankings will identify the many good courses that currently don’t feature in the Top 100.

Huddle Park Golf Club Johannesburg

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FANCOURT OPENS
UP FOR GUESTS
WITH TWO
SPECIAL OFFERS

Published by: Stuart McLean - 27 August 2020
Fancourt and Sun City, the two most popular golf resort experiences in Africa, are re-opening next week on September 1 for resort guests. Fancourt are offering two attractive packages for golfers, one of which includes tee times at South Africa’s No 1 course, The Links. It is an opportunity to play three of the best […]