Going on a golfing safari in South Africa means literally encountering wildlife on the greens. Certain golf courses are either right next to game parks, or are part of them. Don’t be surprised to find crocodiles in the water hazards, giraffes munching the trees, and impala nibbling the fairways.

Did you know?

Divots on the greens are often caused by warthogs or giraffes.

Do you love golf? Do you enjoy being around wildlife? If you’ve mentally ticked yes to both, why not go on a golfing safari around South Africa?

There are a number of golf courses that are either right next to game reserves or national parks (the Hans Merensky Hotel and Spa in Phalaborwa springs to mind) or even courses that are actually on the inside, like the nine-hole course at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park.

Others are close to game reserves or are just naturally rich in game, like the Lost City golf course near Pilanesberg Game Reserve, or Leopard Creek near Nelspruit.

A brand new, spectacular golf course called Legends has been opened within the Entabeni Conservancy near the Waterberg, about four hours' drive north of Johannesburg. It has a 19th hole that is played from a mountain onto a green far below, shaped like Africa. There's no shortage of wild animals there either.

A general rule of thumb is that, in addition to your golfing gear, do pack a camera. Your friends back home will never believe you otherwise.

At Hans Merensky, for example, it’s par for the course to see impala or zebra grazing the fairways, giraffes nibbling the trees, warthogs rooting about in the rough, and most eye-widening of all, crocodiles and hippos in the water hazards.

Suffice it to say that a lost ball mostly stays lost. Just take that penalty and move on.

It’s not often that you’ll find dangerous predators like lions, but it has happened in the past, so be alert.

With all this wildlife about, there are also plenty of birds, so do take your binoculars and bird book if you’re a twitcher.

And just remember, if there’s an elephant in front of the pin, don’t even think of playing through.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Hans Merensky Hotel & Spa
Tel: +27 (0)15 781 3931/2
Email: golf@hansmerensky.com

Leopard Creek Country Club
Tel: +27 (0)791 2000

Skukuza Camp, Kruger National Park
Tel: +27 (0)13 735 4152/4383
Email: reservations@sanparks.org

Legend Golf and Safari Resort
Tel: +27 (0)14 743 6278
Email: golfadmin1@legendlodges.co.za

Lost City Golf Course
Tel: +27 (0)14 557 1245/6
Email: olga.djeco@suninternational.com

How to get here

A number of the golf estates mentioned have their own air strips nearby. Ask when making a booking. You can also drive yourself to all those mentioned.

Best time to visit

Summer can be oppressively hot in Phalaborwa (Hans Merensky Golf Estate), Sun City and at Skukuza. The months from April through to the end of September are far more temperate.

Around the area

In every instance, you're either in a park (like the Kruger National Park), or very close to one. Why not immerse yourself completely in the wild for a day or more?

Get around

On some golf courses you can walk around normally. On others, golf carts are compulsory.

What to pack

Tuck your camera into your bag - you won't want to forget the sights on a wildlife-rich golf course.

Where to stay

Each one of these golf courses either has its own visitor accommodation or is close to centres with guest houses and hotels.