The cosy clubhouse is glass-fronted, offering sweeping views across the golf course.

My golfing prowess mainly runs to taking long walks in search of errant balls, but sports department colleagues Simon (Osler) and Lungani (Zama) were impressed when I mentioned Gowrie Farm Golf Lodge.

Lungani considers the 12-hole links style golf course (currently ranked 54th best course in SA by Golfers Digest) his home course and Simon is also a big fan.

However, I can’t say I enjoyed the rounds of golf as much as the others, but revelled in the rolling mist, crisp country air and beautiful surroundings.

This 360-hectare estate is just outside Nottingham Road in the KZN Midlands and, aside from the golf course, there are four trout dams and plenty to please the eye, not least the uncluttered lines of the lodge and other farmhouse style buildings. The main lodge, which has five en-suite bedrooms with underfloor heating, overlooks the dam and golf course. Rooms are on a bed and breakfast basis.

We opted for one of the three private farmhouses which sleep as many as eight in four en-suite bedrooms. Charles Smythe Cottage was our stylish, executive home for a few nights.

Smythe was an integral part of Gowrie Farm’s history and Prime Minister and Colonial Secretary of Natal in 1905.

The cottages are set up for self-catering, but you can request a catered option. And what beautiful, spacious cottages they are.

The Charles Smythe Cottage has a chic, contemporary feel with clean lines and is open plan. It incorporates a 24-seater conference facility, as well as beautifully appointed self-catering accommodation.

The double en-suite bedrooms, all have flatscreen TVs with full DStv. The living area has a wonderful double-sided fireplace and great views over the golf course and clubhouse lake.

Each cottage is quite different in design and feel. The Folie for example was designed by Durban-based Design Workshop SA, one of South Africa’s leading architectural firms and incorporates a medieval theme while Old Tom Norris has a grand country home feel.

We couldn’t pass up the offer of a clubhouse country brekkie – and their eggs Onassis is a must if you are visiting.

Gowrie is run and managed by Clive and Linda Foss who are also the owners of the Notties Pub and Hotel. They are great characters and I confess our self-catering idea fizzled out somewhat as we found ourselves in the convivial Notties pub more than once.

We also paid a visit to nearby award winning Fordoun Spa Hotel for some indulgent spoilation.

It is no surprise then that weekends are busy, what with the myriad charms of the Midlands – as well as the attraction for top-notch corporates to use Gowrie as a conference “getaway” destination.

Corporate or not, Gowrie is a great place to gather your thoughts. I admit I wasn’t sure I would like it before I visited (the whole golf thing), but I was quite bowled (or should that be putted?) over.

l Cottages to let from R1 760 per unit per night on mid-week specials; full day conference rates are R345 per person. Call 033 266 6294, e-mail [email protected] or visit - Sunday Tribune