Cape Town - Fancourt. The very whisper of the name pricks the hairs of any golfer.
Wild Coast has drama, Fish River Sun had charm, and Steenberg has a wonderful quaintness about it, perched beneath a mountain. But Fancourt had all that and more.
I was so keen to play all three championship layouts that I drove in extra early on the first morning. Just my luck, as I headed down the fairway of the majestic Montagu course, the heavens decided to lash down.
By the time we reached the second tee-box, I was soaked. In my excitement to play, I hadn’t dressed for all weather. My playing partners abandoned me after that second hole – it really was that bad.
But my caddie George shrugged, pointed out that we were already wet, and hitting the ball too well to be sitting in the clubhouse. He was spot on. We reached halfway on level par, even with the sodden fairways. After that, there was no way we could walk away.
Montagu has an eerie similarity to Augusta, home of the US Masters. Sweeping fairways and devilish greens, hidden by plenty of trees. It’s just a pity that we couldn’t enjoy the slick putting surface, but it remains the best two-over round I have ever shot. The drop shots occurred on the signature-hole 16th, a par-three based on the dramatic 12th hole from Augusta.
I dunked my tee shot in the glistening water, the sun having belatedly come to mock us. As I sat later in the plush La Cantina restaurant, in the company of Montagu’s director of golf, I tempted fate by suggesting there was no way I could ever play in rain like that again. After a delectable pizza, fresh out of the clay oven and quaffing carafes of ruby nectar, I turned in to my lodge accommodation, so cavernous I felt like a homeowner for a few days.
Food and beverage manager, the ever smiling Solo Daantjie, offered to join me for the second round on the friendlier Outeniqua track. Again, as we teed off, the golfing gods unleashed the waterworks.
But the singles scrap with Daantjie was a good distraction and we enjoyed another fine day out. Of course, the sun made its appearance just as we headed up the last hole, the more sensible members then headed out.
I had to play early though, as I had plans. Dressed in a fluffy gown and dainty slippers, I had the most wonderful massage at the hands of Monique. I was told it was an hour, but wouldn’t know because I happily passed out within minutes.
There was talk of mountain biking, or trail running in the mountains that overlook the expansive estate early the next morning but, still floating on air after my massage, I only had two words on my mind.
The Links. Rated as the number one course in the country, The Links does the small touches expertly. A pyramid of balls on the range, bearing your name. A welcome note in the dressing-room and a dram of the finest scotch on the first tee, before you float into golfing utopia.
That scotch worked a treat, as I knocked my approach shot right next to the flag, and tapped in for birdie. That morning, with not a soul in sight, I felt like I had the entire course – and George, of course – to myself, a true privilege.
Walking up the 18th, George stopped me to catch a glimpse of Dr Hasso Plattner’s house. It was his vision to turn this pristine corner of the world into one of golf’s true bucket-list experiences. And, what’s more, the sun played along, adding to the scenery as I took the famous walk, and rifled in an approach next to the flag.
As I tapped in, there was a waiter, with an ice-cold lime juice – just another touch of distinction that confirms Fancourt’s lofty standing.
It is truly something else, with not a blade out of place. And, if you are playing for the first time, ask for George to be on your bag.
l Call 044 804 0000 and visit www.fancourt.co.za
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Lungani Zama, Sunday Tribune