In the wonderful book South Africa’s Greatest Golf Destinations by Jamie Thom and Stuart Mclean there is a fantastic description of the wildlife that roam one such golf course – Hans Marensky Golf Club – in the northern reaches of the country.
"At Hans Marensky golfers have spotted rare kills by leopards and cheetah on the course, and a buffalo once charged the green-keepers pick-up truck. Tragically a golfer from Germany was killed by an enraged elephant in 1998 when she became curious about its proximity to the bush adjoining one of the holes, and ventured too close in order to take photographs of it. Danger does lurk on the fairways, but the security on this resort and housing estate is tight. Any report of big cats means golfers must retreat to the clubhouse. Regulars do not worry about hippos and crocodiles that inhabit the water hazards, although no one ventures out after dark when the hippos march along the fairways in search of grazing.”
That description shows us just how amazing the game of golf can be. What other sport are you afforded the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors all whilst playing a sport and enjoying some exercise at the same time?
In the book Anatomy of a Golf Course, architect Tom Doak talks about the best golf courses being routed exactly the way you might be inclined to wander the property if there were no golf course there. I can’t argue with that statement. My favourite golf courses are as good to walk as they are to play – I think of golf courses like Utrecht De Pan in the Netherlands, Royal County Down in Northern Ireland and even Crystal Downs in the USA being wonderful examples of courses that take golfers on a magical journey of discovery around the property all whilst having an urban element in close proximity. In Scotland many of the golf courses are on public land and so before or after work it’s not uncommon to find the family out walking the links. At St Andrews it is par for the course to have to wait on the 18th tee as a passer-by walks across the fairway.
Golf is nature and provides us the rare opportunity to leave behind the stress of everyday life for a little while. I know when I have had a bad day - or heavy weak - my favourite place is that bit of green space down the road.
Click here to see the published article.