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GGoing 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.
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 9-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 spectacular golf course called Legends has been opened within the Entabeni Conservancy near the Waterberg, about 4 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.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Legend Golf and Safari Resort
Tel: +27 (0)15 453 9000
Hans Merensky Golf Course
Tel: +27 (0)15 781 3931/7
Tel: +27 (0)13 791 2000
Skukuza Camp, Kruger National Park
Tel: +27 (0)13 735 5543
Lost City Golf Course
Tel: +27 (0)21 481 4900
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.
Things to do
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?
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.
- Legend Golf & Safari Resort
- Hans Merensky Golf Estate
- South African National Parks – Skukuza
- Leopard Creek Golf Course
- Lost City at Sun City