1. Leopard Creek Country Club, Malelane, Mpumalanga The only course in the world where your playing companions are apt to be zebras, giraffes, hippos, et al, this Gary Player design on the edge of Kruger National Park is the nation’s perennial number one.
2. Fancourt Links, George, Western Cape Another Player design and site of the famously halved 2003 Presidents Cup, it is in no sense a links but is a full test of golf, marked by numerous heroic carries, punishing pot bunkers, and greens as welcoming as a French waiter.
3. Gary Player Country Club, Sun City, North West Rounding out a hat trick at the top for the Black Knight, this host of the annual Nedbank Challenge adjoins the nation’s most glitzy resort. The flat terrain is unremarkable but numerous risk-reward holes make for a relentlessly engaging round.
4. Arabella, Kleinmond, Western Cape A resort course idyllically set beside a river lagoon (which comes into play). Big elevation changes make for spectacular views and testing assignments, and each nine finishes with a pair of teasers where you might make two birdies or two unmentionables.
5. Fancourt Montagu, George, Western Cape It may live in the shadow of its sister course, the Links, but this parkland beauty, updated by David McLay Kidd, is full of compelling holes with water in play on 12 of them—including an island green at the finale.
6. Pearl Valley, Paarl, Western Cape Bordered by vineyards and orchards and backdropped by two magnificent mountain ranges, this Jack Nicklaus course in the heart of the Cape Winelands region is as scenic as it is challenging, and always in top condition.
7. Blair Atholl, Centurion, Gauteng Don’t play from the back tees; they measure 8,400 yards, making this one of the longest courses in the world. Several lakes and the Crocodile River add to the test. Gary Player not only had a hand in the design, he made his home here for 25 years.
8. St. Francis Links, St. Francis Bay, Eastern Cape Another links-that-isn’t-quite-a-links, this Nicklaus design comes very close, with a windblown coastal location and a succession of natural holes set on rambling, sand-based terrain.
9. Durban Country Club, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal The grand dame of South Africa’s courses, dating to 1922, it sits smack beside the Indian Ocean, with holes set on massive sand dunes and lined by lush vegetation. The rambling 3rd hole has been called one of the best par fives in the world.
10. Wild Coast Sun Country Club, Port Edward, Eastern Cape Robert Trent Jones Jr.’s only South African design lives up to its name, unfurling over a stretch of wild and rugged coastal terrain. Hills, ravines, lakes, and rivers constantly come into play and the signature par-five 12th actually plays across a waterfall.