The President’s Choice
Whatever your political inclinations, whether or not you approve of the last two men chosen to lead South Africa, you can’t argue with their taste in golf courses.
For the past seven years, the Presidential Address Golf Day has been held at De Zalze Golf Club in Stellenbosch, and for the past 3 years Mr President himself has attended, and (I have this on good authority) was seen to thoroughly enjoy himself.
De Zalze is only 12 years old, yet has maturity beyond its youth, in terms of course conditioning, quality of service and of accomplishments in its short life.
Designed by Peter Matkovich, De Zalze sympathetically follows the gentle contours of the shallow valley of the Blaauklippen River. The course has also hosted the Eisenhower trophy and the Espirito Santo Trophy in 2006; countless regional and national tournaments, and is the course of choice for many corporate golf days throughout the year.
Sometimes it’s not easy delivering an objective criticism of a golf course when you’ve had “one of those rounds”. You all know it; you’ve had at least one. You play with military precision (left, right, left, right); you thank the golfing gods that the several balls you dispatch to various watery graves were ones you found while walking the dog; and you get royally thrashed by an inspired playing partner (in this case, Larry Gould, the celebrated golf writer), after he told me “I’m not playing so well at the moment” – I am so glad I caught him on an off day.
However, in the case of De Zalze, you can play like a drain, lose a dozen balls and get trounced by Larry Gould “on an off day”, yet the over-riding feeling on driving away is that you’ve had a great day. De Zalze does that to you.
A quick aside for you: De Zalze is one of many “golf estates” in South Africa. The phrase usually conjures up images of over-development and claustrophobic fairways, but this is not the case at De Zalze.
De Zalze has enough space to fit a meandering course and a residential estate without golfers realising there are 425 homes here. Small pockets of vineyards and olive groves offer a natural barrier between the course and the homes, which rarely intrude on your line of sight.
The course itself isn’t overly long or tricked-up, just two loops of well-planned and excellently conditioned holes that never feel crowded, and will challenge, reward and satisfy all but the most ardent of weekend hackers.
So what is required to create a good “golf experience”?
That’s simple – Create magic, and the desire to return.
Dave Hansen (De Zalze CEO) and his team are creating golfing magic on a daily basis.
From the all-important welcome at the gate to every member of staff you meet, you feel as though you are appreciated. Well-priced and tasty food in the clubhouse and a stunning view from the terrace across the course toward the vineyards and mountains all contribute toward the overall experience.
If you’re a golfer in search of a cracking course, value for money and a great day out, give De Zalze a try – you’re going to love it, and want to go back again. If it’s good enough for the President…
Just don’t believe your opponent if he tells you he’s not playing too well.