Manicured to perfection within contrasting mountain and ocean surroundings, Erinvale has matured into a prime example of what it takes to create a great golf course, reviewer Mark Sampson argues.
Erinvale’s origin and design
Originally part of the farm Welgelegen, which translates to ‘well located,’ this course in any other setting would be special; however, nestled in a green Somerset West valley with views of Gordons Bay in the distance and surrounded by the Helderberg and Hottentots Holland mountains, Erinvale ranks as one of the best Cape golf courses.
Erin is the ancient name of Ireland and ‘erinvale’ translates loosely into ‘green valley’ – meaning it is both well named and located.
Designed by Gary Player, this Cape golf course has two nines that are as contrasting as his famous black and white pants from the Open Championship of 1960 at St Andrews.
Having hosted tournaments from the 1996 World Cup of Golf to the SA Opens of 2003 and 2004, Erinvale is no stranger to big events and ranks as one of the true tests of championship golf amongst Cape golf courses.
The 1st hole is a strong dogleg to the right, allowing the better golfer to take a tiger-line based on their driving ability.
The 2nd, a short but well-bunkered par three, shouldn’t present any problems at just 147 metres. The par-five 3rd’s 452 metres fairway is bunkered on the right, with the green also having sandy protection for any wayward shots.
The 4th and 5th holes are fairly short par fours and should be negotiated without major difficulty.
It is when you arrive on the tee-box of Erinvale’s 6th hole that you should prepare yourself for a monster. Its sheer length, 420 metres, combined with a green with a bunker to the left and a water hazard on the right, demands accuracy like few other Cape golf courses.
Hole 7 is a par five that allows for a breather, having a generous fairway with a bunker on the left and houses on the right along its entire length.
The picturesque par-three 8th is a gem found on few Cape golf courses. The closing hole on Erinvale’s front nine is another hole that requires accuracy from tee to green, with bunkers along the left of the fairway and a water hazard crossing the front of the narrow green.
Speaking of which, Erinvale’s halfway house has to be one of the best in the business, achieved primarily by getting the simple things right.
A varied menu with favourable prices, is accompanied by friendly staff that work with fast efficiency – infused with a smile – and clean, comfortable surroundings. The small touches are what sets Erinvale apart from most Cape golf course clubhouses and it is hard to tear yourself away from this cosy sojourn.
The steep drive up to the 10th tee should provide some insight about things to come – numerous variations in elevation on the inward loop create uneven stances and difficulty in judging distance.
Erinvale’s short 152 metres par-three 12th is complicated by a green that is ‘hidden’ at the top of the hill. The 13th, a spectacular par five, is a visual extravaganza among Cape golf courses, while the par-three 14th is another good hole to par, with a carry over water to a green protected by numerous bunkers.
From this point it’s pretty much downhill all the way to the well-stocked clubhouse bar.
The par-five 16th has a steep downhill fairway with well-placed bunkers and a large green that is protected in front by a deep bunker that must be avoided at all costs. Erinvale’s stroke-two 17th is the second-hardest hole on the course, a par here should be celebrated.
The closing hole is a moderately straightforward par four, although it features one of the longest greens known to Cape golf courses. A good finish here should cap off an enjoyable round.
Erinvale’s five-star experience
Flourishing and maintaining exceptional standards while many are falling by the wayside is indicative of a well-run club, and in this case, years of experience allows Erinvale to set such high standards. Certainly this Cape golf course and estate have grown into what the developers must have originally envisioned and a better example of a mature estate course would be hard to find.
From friendly staff in the pro shop, starter and cart personnel and even course-maintenance staff greeting and waiting while play is on the go, customer satisfaction is guaranteed.
Continual improvement on the course and Erinvale’s mission of environmental awareness of the surrounding fauna and flora adds to it being a growing Cape golf course treasure. For an all-round experience, this golf course review strives to prove that Erinvale’s is a hard one to beat.
→ Consistent friendliness.
→ Obvious manicuring of gardens adding aesthetic value to this unique Cape golf course.
→ Variation in holes from easy to hard, making for a challenging round.
→ The housing estate does not encroach on the golf course.
… AND DISLIKES
→ Erinvale’s course could be better signposted from Somerset West’s CBD.
→ May be an argument for members finding tee time with summer tourists scurrying to play this well known Cape golf course.
→ Parking is sometimes difficult to find.
ERINVALE FACT FILE
Course – Parkland par 72 (SAGA rating 72), Kikuyu fairways and Poa Annua, 6 202 metres.
Designer - Gary Player
Director of Golf – Johan Piek
Course Superintendent – Greg Leckie
Greenfees – Non-affiliated: R695, Affiliated: R485, Winter: R250 (May to October)
Contact - Pro shop: 021 847 1906 | Web: www.erinvale.com
Getting There – From Cape Town follow the N2 and take the Stellenbosch/Broadway exit (43). At the offramp, turn left onto the R44. Continue to the first traffic lights, turn right. Follow Main Road, turn left into Lourensford Road, follow for approximately 6km. Erinvale is on the left.