Having a ball (and losing it)

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Durban - The drive towards Prince’s Grant doesn’t promise much. After heading 40 minutes north of Durban on the N2, you are sign-posted towards Stanger, and then on to a dirt road that winds through a seemingly endless maze of sugar cane.

It’s easy to think you may have taken a wrong turn, as little suggests you are heading towards a serene, seaside haven full of pleasant secrets.

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The lodge at Prince's Grant  offers old-world charm  and sweeping sea views.The lodge at Prince's Grant  offers old-world charm  and sweeping sea views.The Peter Matkovich-designed course will challenge any golfer& and might gobble up lots of your balls.

The “bucket-list” dream of Pietermaritzburg lawyer Guy Smith, whose other hidden gem is Gowrie Farm in the Midlands, Prince’s Grant is the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. As the Prince’s Grant motto says, it is “The way life should be lived”.

From the African farmhouse design of the houses on the estate, to the graceful old clubhouse, with the lodge upstairs, Prince’s Grant oozes the charm of a grand old lady. I was put up in the baronial, South American suite – as big as most city bachelor flats – with sweeping views over the course.

The Peter Matkovich-designed, championship golf layout is not the only drawcard for visitors. The lodge, which offers 15 rooms, is rated four-star, and each room enjoys vistas of the estate or the sea.

For those who enjoy a touch of pampering, there is a fully-equipped salon, as well as conference facilities.

The kitchen offers a simple, but well-crafted menu, served in the cosy dining room on colder nights, but on warm summer evenings the wraparound balcony provides a perfect setting. On the advice of those in the know around the dinner table, I plumped for the lamb curry, and was not disappointed.

Families can enjoy the privacy of a secluded, 2km beach just behind the signature hole 15th hole, which quite literally takes your breath – and balls – away.

The numerous paths linking houses to the amenities are perfect for leisurely walks or more ambitious jogs, and there are also tennis and squash courts.

There is also a lagoon for paddlers to utilise, and this scribe was challenged by Prince’s Grant’s CEO, Chris van der Merwe, to a “light paddle” at dawn. Sadly, a light drizzle and a reluctance to get my hair wet meant the chance went to waste, but those who enjoy such adventures are in for a treat.

A little-known secret about Prince’s Grant is that in September and October, you can spot the giants of the sea, whales, surfacing for air as they head to the warm Mozambican waters to give birth. I was lucky enough to catch sight of a splash in late November – and it certainly was too big to be a golf ball.

For golf enthusiasts, the Prince’s Grant layout is an absolute “must-play”. Not too many courses afford so many breathtaking views from several tee-boxes, but the ever present wind will quickly get you back to reality.

The stunning 15th hole, played from a high perch with the ocean just beyond the green, is one of the very best par-fives in the country. It marks the start of an exhilarating closing four holes, where anything can happen, with a drivable par-four, a tight par-three, and a reachable par-five to finish a memorable golfing experience.

Prince’s Grant may be off the beaten track but, like all good things in life, it is worth the effort. Like the sprouting sugar cane that dominates the approach, Prince’s Grant provides the sweetest ending for visitors.

Just bring plenty of balls…

l Rates are from R605 per person sharing per night. Call 032 482 0005 or e-mail: [email protected] - Sunday Tribune

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