Durban is a great destination for golfers, with a number of internationally acclaimed courses in subtropical settings. Lush, forest-fringed fairways make for a scenic and challenging golfing experience, and thanks to Durban’s sunshine and perennially warm climate, golf can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Beachwood Country Club. This course is currently rated 29 in the Golf Digest Top 100 Courses in South Africa. The layout is challenging to the links-course golfer, with most fairways running parallel in a N-NE/S-SW direction. The sixth and ninth fairways feature doglegs, and 74 bunkers lure wayward shots. Four holes have water features and tree-lined fairways. Set high in the dunes, the par-4 sixth is a hugely demanding hole at 448 yards from the back tee. The hole doglegs left, with a stream, bush, and water hazard to be negotiated before reaching the green. Beachwood Pl., off Fairway, Durban, KwaZulu Natal, 4051. www.dcclub.co.za/index.php/golf/golf_beachwood/. R240 for 18 holes in the morning, R320 for 18 holes in the afternoon and on Sat.
Durban Country Club. Durban Country Club is the only public course on the African continent to be rated in the Top 100 Golf Courses of the World by Golf Magazine USA. Lush sub-tropical vegetation, sand dunes and elevated views of the Indian Ocean lend this course its unique and challenging appeal. Classic features include large undulating fairways on the 5th, 8th and 17th and massive sand dunes that form part of the design. The 1535-foot par 5 third hole—high tee-off to a narrow fairway with dense vegetation and a left-hand fairway bunker—is rated among the world’s best. Walter Gilbert Rd., Durban, KwaZulu Natal, 4025. 031/313–1777; www.dcclub.co.za. Weekdays R475, Sat. R525.
Mount Edgecombe Country Club. This two-course championship estate—Mount Edgecombe One and Mount Edgecombe Two—is set in rolling hills inland from Umhlanga. Designed by Sid Brews in 1936, Course One was upgraded in 1992 and modernized by Hugh Baiocchi to meet USGA specifications. Both feature indigenous vegetation that attracts a variety of birdlife. Course One's water features and multi-tiered greens demand accurate play, whereas Course Two has more undulating terrain that tests the serious golfer and hones the amateur’s skill. Signature holes are the 13th to 16th, referred to by locals as “Amen corner.” Golf Course Dr., Gate 2, Mount Edgecombe, Durban, KwaZulu Natal, 4302. www.mountedgecombe.com/golf. R295 for tee-off before 8:30 am weekdays; R345 Sat. and after 8:30 am weekdays. Prices are the same for both courses, and include golf cart rental.
Royal Durban Golf Club. Tucked in the centre of the Greyville Racecourse, the Royal Durban Golf Club course, built in 1898, appears deceptively easy. However there's no wind protection, so hitting narrow fairways is difficult, and subtle green breaks are challenging. On the plus side, its centrally located, surroundings are attractive, the course flat and trees are minimal. The par four 7th is the most difficult with palm trees punishing a sliced or blocked tee shot. First tee-off is at 6.30 am. 16 Mitchell Cres., Gate 15, Greyville, Durban, KwaZulu Natal, 4001. 031/309–1373; www.royaldurban.co.za. R260.
Umhlali Country Club. This Peter Matkovich–designed golf course is a premier golf destination on the North Coast. It features sweeping greens, exotic palms, and manicured fairways that offer an easy walk for golfers of all abilities. Strategically positioned tee boxes and seven water holes test the mettle of competitive golfers, and longer handicappers can take advantage of front markers. The fourth and eighth present more of a challenge, with greens surrounded by water. Compensation Rd., Ballito, KwaZulu Natal, 4390. 032/947–1181; www.umhlaliclub.co.za/sports/golf. R360 for 18 holes on weekdays; R515 for 18 holes on weekends. Mon.–Thurs. and Sun. 6 am–5 pm; Fri. and Sat. 6 am–6.30 pm.
Zimbali Country Club. This prestigious eco-friendly course, 1.2 km (¾ mile) from Ballito, embraces one of the region's few remaining natural forests. It holds a Five-star Golf Experience Award from Complete Golfer, reflecting its standards of service, the quality of its clubhouse facilities, and the condition of the course. Designed by Tom Weiskopf, the course lies amid sand dunes above a secluded beach, natural springs, and a lake. Weiskopf's philosophy of "presenting a fair challenge to any level of play" is seen at Zimbali. The club's Crowned Eagle Restaurant serves breakfasts and lunches. Zimbali Estate, M4, Ballito, KwaZulu Natal, 4420. 032/538–1041; www.zimbali.co.za/GolfCourse.aspx. R495 weekdays, R525 weekends (includes compulsory golf cart rental).