Located along Sth Africa's Garden Route the Fancourt Estate existed for more than a hundred years before it was transformed into a golf resort.
There are now three courses at Fancourt Resort, all designed by Gary Player.
It began in 1990 with the opening of the Montagu course, followed in 1997 by the Outeniqua course and finally the Links at Fancourt in 2000.
Fancourt is a full service resort with a number of dining options, sporting facilities,various types of accommodation (including residential) and a conference centre.
The Links at Fancourt
When Dr Hasso Plattner bought Fancourt resort in the early 90's, his expansion plans included the addition of a links course to be built on an adjacent airstrip.
That strip had no natural features and a heavy clay base.
Again using the design services of Gary Player and compatriot Phil Jacobs, Plattner brought in 700,000 of cubic metres of sand and soil to build his own massive dunescape.
In 2000 the Links at Fancourt opened for play, and has drawn acclaim world wide since.
It has hosted tournaments such as the famous tied Presidents Cup in 2003, the Volvo Champions, and Womens World Cup.
Let me say straight up- this is not a 'true' links course - it is more of a hybrid parkland/links combination.
The fairways are lush, and whilst they are rolling, there is perhaps less movement than most links courses..
Water hazards abound, and the greens are not as firm and fast as you would expect on a links course.
Nevertheless I loved the course, and regard it as the best in South Africa.
The man-made dunes set the scene combining with long grasses waving in the wind to frame the fairways.
Add some picture perfect water holes, and the backdrop of the spectacular Outeniqua mountains and it makes for a compelling setting.
It is a tough test of golf, too!
The Links plays long at 6930 metres from the back pegs, and can be tight in places, and penal if you miss.
Deep pot bunkers and long grass can make recovery difficult...
Interestingly the revetted pot bunkers had faces lined with sod wrapped in some sort of material, and treated- but it looked and played very well.
The par 4 third hole is called 'Calamity' and plays 398 metres off our forward tees (429 off the black)
If you can avoid the myriad of pot bunkers and long rough off the tee, you are faced with a long approach to the green.
The green is shallow and surrounded by trouble!
It has a burn running across in front of the green and stone retaining wall fronting the green.
It's one tough hole!
I thought the uphill par 5 eighteenth hole was a little underwhelming.
It felt like a connecting hole to get back up the substantial hill to the clubhouse.
The hole is called 'Near The Dram"
There is a significant carry to get to the fairway above you- but if you look back you will see that the carry off the black tee is enormous!!
The green is overworked, and has a large pimple in the middle where the flag sat for our approach.
Even a decent wedge was deflected.
It is a poor finish to a quality course.
The rest of the course was a pleasure to play- challenging, demanding, strategic, beautifully maintained, and picturesque.
Even the easiest ranked hole on the course, the par 5 fifth hole (called Wetland) was challenging
It requires two accurate shots down the fairway, avoiding traps, and a water carry approach to a board fronted green
The putting surface is severely contoured and has a pin hard against the water...
Other memorable holes at The Links include the sharply down hill par 3 second hole (called Lang Drop), the dogleg par 4 fifteenth hole (Roon the Bend) with water in play all along the left side, and the crazy par 3 seventeenth hole with no real options if you miss the green.
Appropriately this hole is named Prayer.
If you get the chance to stay at Fancourt, make sure you prebook to play The Links.
It is a wonderful golf course, and an experience you will not forget.
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For suggested destinations see: Golf Destinations- South Africa
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