WORDS: KIT HEATHCOCK IMAGES: SUPPLIED & SHUTTERSTOCK
South Africa has some of the most varied and scenic golf estates in the world with world-class golf courses designed by some of the biggest names in international golf.
The consistent demand for secure gated estates and the luxury lifestyle afforded by them continues to be good news for golf estates but, as a recent New York Times article pointed out, long-term investors are looking at more than just the golf facilities when they buy into an estate, important as those are.
The best investments are those that have a wider appeal and a wider pool of buyers when it comes to selling again, like estates that have lifestyle aspects attractive to non-golfers either within the estate itself or in the adjacent community. So nearby schools, healthcare facilities, and other leisure activities on the estate strengthen the investment value. Besides, of course, the attraction of living within one of these exceptional lifestyle enclaves.
St Francis Links
A residential golf estate on 450ha of natural dunes just outside St Francis Bay, St Francis Links enjoys views over the Indian Ocean and a backdrop of mountains to the north. The gated community is designed on a Natal farmhouse architectural theme with plenty of privacy and quiet for homeowners. The Jack Nicklaus Signature Links course is perennially rated among South Africa’s Top 10. Gary Player, on a recent visit, said it was the best balance of residential and golf course positioning he had ever seen. With a fine clubhouse, hotel, leisure centre with gym and covered pool, it has become a popular holiday destination, both for golfers and non-golfers enjoying the beach, surf, river and nature on offer on this beautiful stretch of the Eastern Cape coast. While the area has a laidback holiday vibe year-round there are enough schools and healthcare facilities between St Francis Bay and nearby Jeffrey’s Bay for full-time family living, with Port Elizabeth just over an hour away for tertiary education and city convenience.
Sardinia Bay Golf and Wildlife Estate
Converted from a dairy farm within the Port Elizabeth urban boundary and giving onto the coastline, Sardinia Bay Golf and Wildlife Estate is a secluded country base for families working in PE, with wildlife such as zebra, giraffe and small game roaming the greens and prolific birdlife. The nine-hole golf course and its clubhouse with swimming pool and tennis court, are overlooked by the first two phases of contemporary African homes, while a third phase of development is in the pipeline.
Wedgewood Golf and Country Estate
In the countryside just outside Port Elizabeth, Wedgewood Golf and Country Estate has seen a massive investment in rebuilding and redesigning the historic 18-hole championship golf course by Golf Data. Residential development was restarted in 2013 when the estate was bought by a consortium anticipating a demand for secure estates as Port Elizabeth’s suburbs expand. With a choice of building styles and erven, the estate’s position beside a nature reserve yet close to Port Elizabeth’s shopping malls and schools, make it a convenient base for those looking for an affordable and secure country lifestyle close to the city.
Retaining the country feel that once was a hallmark of Hillcrest, 220ha Cotswold Downs Golf and Lifestyle Estate evokes the UK Cotswolds landscape of villages with low density building of homes in stone and slate roofs in between indigenous grassland, forests, lakes and wetlands rich in wildlife. The championship golf course is designed by Peter Matkovich and recognised as one of the best in the region. The new leisure centre provides a fitness centre, squash and tennis as well as restaurant and bar, offering an enviable country lifestyle close to the schools and conveniences of Hillcrest and Durban.
Eye of Africa
A pioneering residential golf and lifestyle estate in southern Joburg, Eye of Africa adopted a conservation approach setting aside 350ha of untouched Highveld grassland. It’s home to the first Greg Norman golf course design in SA and a wide variety of community amenities from parks and play areas to hiking trails, restaurants, tennis courts and swimming pools. Its residential offerings span from freehold stands to apartments and cluster homes designed as smaller neighbourhoods within the estate. This area south of Joburg is developing rapidly with the new Mall of Africa and a number of schools opening, but it still feels like country living.
A self-suffcient city within a city, six times the size of Sandton’s city centre, with rolling landscaped parklands, as well as its superb Jack Nicklaus championship golf course, the scope of Steyn City is vast. An initial offering of freehold stands, apartments and cluster homes has recently been added to, with the “city centre” development of a further 730 apartments with retail and leisure space at ground level, a lagoon and man-made beach, plus a planned new office park and heliport. The estate already has a school up to Grade 10, reaching matric by 2021. There’s an equestrian centre, an extensive network of walking and running trails, communal parks, outdoor gyms and play areas among indigenous trees. Even this isn’t enough for the vision of the developers who plan to add a world-class sports centre, a shopping centre, retirement facilities and a medical centre, to create an entire live-work-play lifestyle development that residents will hardly ever need to leave.
Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate
A new burst of energy is growing Serengeti estate in Kempton Park, with various new amenities and residential options added over the last two years. Its Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course has been joined by a second 18-hole par-three course. The Whistling Thorns apartment development and a new section of cluster homes have expanded the residential offering to include an easy lock-up-and-go lifestyle, and restaurants include informal eateries. The Curro Serengeti school on the doorstep, a planned office park and equestrian centre are turning it into a versatile live-work-play precinct.
Brookfield at Royal
The Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club draws a discerning crowd thanks to its acclaimed golf courses and legendary hospitality. In keeping with its status, the first premium development within its precinct is classy, distinctive and impeccably designed. Brookfield at Royal makes the most of the lush countryside setting with uninterrupted views from each luxury apartment. When it comes to leisure, residents enjoy automatic social membership to the golf club. The family-friendly clubhouse has a business centre and a banqueting venue, a gym and lifestyle club, an outdoor playground and crèche, as well as a restaurant with a pizza oven.
Silver Lakes Golf and Wildlife Estate
Wildlife, water features and fishing are just some of the attractions of Silver Lakes on the east fringes of Pretoria. One of the first estates of its kind in Pretoria, it’s a mature estate on 300ha with a Peter Matkovich designed golf course that has been awarded both for the design and for eco-friendly credentials. The golf club includes a golf academy, putting and chipping greens and a driving range. Other facilities on the estate include tennis, squash, swimming pool, fishing dams fished on a catch and release basis, and nature trails through the game reserve where duiker and other small game roam and prolific bird life is to be seen. With a small retirement village, the estate offers a secure and idyllic lifestyle for all ages, young families appreciating the nearby schools – from a Curro to the well-regarded Tshwane public schools – plus shopping and healthcare facilities within easy driving distance.
Woodhill Golf Estate
On the south-east edge of Pretoria and established in 1999, Woodhill is known for its secure and peaceful lifestyle as well as its Peter Matkovich 18-hole golf course with lush fairways and immaculate greens. Popular with young families, kids can walk to school at adjacent Curro Woodhill College, and other schools, including the American International School, are close by. There’s a thriving junior golf programme at the club as well as well-maintained grounds, gardens and jogging trails.
Outside Dullstroom on 700ha of highveld grassland Highland Gate is a stunning golf and fishing resort for a weekend home or to escape the city entirely. With an Ernie Els 18- hole championship golf course, and clubhouse completed in 2015, it has something for all the family including fly-fishing, mountain biking, tennis, nature trails and bird-watching. Architectural guidelines to build a dream home are inspired by old Transvaal and farm styles, with various vacant stands to choose from in the three villages on the estate.
Pearl Valley at Val de Vie
Pearl Valley is an exclusive golf estate within the wider Val de Vie lifestyle estate, which was rated by New World Wealth as the top residential estate in SA from 2015 to 2019 and encompasses world-class equestrian and polo facilities as well as golf. The Pearl valley Jack Nicklaus signature golf course is consistently rated among the top five in SA. Nicklaus himself said of it, “Surrounded by mountains, this is one of the most spectacular settings in which I have designed a golf course.”
Close to the golf course and recently launched is The Acres, which features several 1ha gentlemen’s estates as well as one-acre and 700m2 stands, for those looking for expansive country living alongside the convenience of luxury lifestyle offerings such as the spa, hotel and restaurants on the estate. Close to Paarl and within easy distance of Stellenbosch, there’s an excellent choice of schools, including Bridge House, making it a lifestyle choice for families wanting secure country living with all the conveniences at hand.
On the dunes behind Melkbosstrand with stunning views of Table Mountain and the ocean, and wildlife from the neighbouring fynbos reserve, Atlantic Beach is a popular choice for families looking for a secure lifestyle, proximity to the schools of Cape Town’s Western Seaboard, and an easy commute to Cape Town itself. The world-class 18-hole links course designed by Mark Muller attracts golfers of all abilities year-round and the leisure centre and monthly market are a social focus for residential life.
De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate
At the heart of the Winelands just outside Stellenbosch with beautiful mountain views, De Zalze is part of a working wine farm with an award-winning winery and restaurants, luxury guest lodges, as well as its 18-hole championship golf course designed by Peter Matkovich. A wetlands area ensures diverse bird and wildlife, mountain bike and running trails allow for a varied outdoor lifestyle, and the estate is well-placed for Stellenbosch’s renowned schools and university, and for work both in Stellenbosch and Somerset West.
Langebaan Country Estate
This 450ha estate in the West Coast National Park features an 18-hole Black Knight-designed golf course created by Gary Player Designs. Set against the spectacular West Coast scenery, the estate o¬ffers a harmonious balance of sport, leisure and conferencing facilities.