Just as the Western Cape’s Garden Route is blessed with some of the most scenic attractions in South Africa, it too features many of the country’s top ranked golf courses – from Mossel Bay’s breathtaking Pinnacle Point Golf Course in the west to the magnificent Goose Valley Course outside Plettenberg Bay.
Knysna prides itself on the three superb golf courses situated in the popular resort town. The well-manicured, low-lying Knysna Golf Course, a short stroll from Bamboo, the Guest House, is famous for its club spirit and social atmosphere. Pezula Championship Golf Course, atop the iconic Knysna Heads, is one of the most spectacular cliff top links. Simola Golf Course is one of only five Jack Nicklaus signature courses in South Africa.
Easter Sunday marked the close of the 76th US Masters at Augusta, with Bubba Watson pipping local Mossel Bay wizard, Louis Oosthuizen, with an incredible recovery shot at the second playoff hole. Despite Louis’ historical albatross (double eagle) at the long par 5 second hole on the final day’s play, Watson’s powerful hook through a tunnel of trees on the second playoff hole must be rated more difficult than Louis’ amazing roundhouse! Louis’ remarkable achievement at Augusta reminds me of the rich golfing heritage this nation possesses, no more apparent than in our golfers’ achievements in the world’s four golfing Majors – The Masters Tournament, US Open, The Open Championship and the PGA Championship.
Men’s Major Championship winning golfers by country sees South Africa occupying fourth spot on the table, with 21 Major wins, behind the USA (255), Scotland (54) and England (34). Further enhancing our golfing prowess as a nation is the fact that our total Major wins far exceed those of some countries with rich golfing traditions, such as Australia, Spain, Germany, Argentina and Ireland.
The legendary Gary Player, regarded as one of the most successful golfers of all time, leads the charge with an impressive 9 majors, in fourth place globally behind Jack Nicklaus, Tiger woods and Walter Hagen. At age 29, Player became the only non-American to win a career Grand Slam in 1965.
Bobby Locke, the first South African to win a major, amassed 4 British Open wins between 1950 and 1957. Tragically, from a golfing standpoint, Locke was banned from the US PGA circuit between 1949 and 1951 and never returned to play in the US after his ban was lifted.
Ernie Els, the ‘Big Easy’, ushered in the era of Garden Route golfers making their mark on the global circuit. The former world number one accumulated three majors between 1994 and 2002, as well as winning a record seven World Matchplay titles. Ernie’s success in golf course design is evident in his first signature course at Oubaai Links Course near George.
Lying fourth on the list of South African Major winners is the extremely talented Retief Goosen. ‘Goose’ triumphed in two US Opens between 2001 and 2004, both nail biting finishes against Stewart Cink and Phil Mickelson respectively. 2004 is widely regarded as heralding in the ‘Big Five Era’ – 4 years in which Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Phil Mickelson dominated the global golf circuit.
New boys on the block, Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, have each won a single major and promise much more to come, Oosthuizen’s narrow miss at the 2012 US Masters bearing testament to this.
Bamboo, the Guest House Knysna is perfectly situated for those golfers keen on tackling some of the Garden Route’s challenging courses – and, who knows, you may well cross paths with the next South African to bag a Major!
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