Wanderlust and Golf

wanderlust (n) – a great desire or irresistible impulse to wander, travel and explore the world

golf (n) – a sport, although some say it’s really only a game, played with a club hitting a ball into a series of holes on a course, with the least strokes (noting that there is another “stroke” in golf, being the degree of difficulty of the hole)

[my] golf wanderlust (n) – [my] strong urge to wander, travel and explore the world of golf and play the world’s golf courses

I didn’t always have the wanderlust I now have. I didn’t have a passport until I was 13, when it became necessary as I was joining my mother in Zambia. I don’t even think I liked leaving the island as a child because I got seasick. I still get seasick that’s why a cruise has never appealed to me. I even get carsick. But I was fine during my first flight and I still thoroughly enjoy flying. Of course, I do get scared when there is turbulence especially when flying in a small plane. I realized though that there is not much I can do so why even think about it. You get to that point when not even the thought of crashing and dying from it is frightening. Perhaps it comes from knowing that I didn’t have much of a choice flying to get to work, out of town, in a small private jet, fabulous weather or not, even when the boss tried his hand at landing the Citation, or was it the Lear? I must say that the Challenger was his best and I felt as safe in it as in a Boeing 777.

Back to my wanderlust, as I said, I don’t recall having the desire to travel the world from a young age. The one place I remember wanting to visit, more than once even, was Sun City in the early 90s when I lived in Botswana. I have the problem of wanting to go back to a place I love. Fortunately, the world is full of interesting and beautiful places so I remain lusting to see and travel more, one place at a time.

Sun City 1993
Sun City 1993

I am afraid though that I may be one of those tourists that others love to hate. I’m not sure if it’s because the traveler in me surfaced only later in my life or if it’s because I am an island girl who grew up close to nature and whose home in the last 20 years is safari land, but I like cities a little more than mountains, forests, beaches and the like. I’m also not the backpacking type. A hotel with warm shower, a comfortable bed and scrumptious chef-prepared food would definitely be the choice for me, the more stars the hotel has the better. I am able to appreciate the beauty of nature as much as that of the hotel lobby or view from my room. The lodges of South African holiday resorts are perfect for me, especially if there is a golf course. Luckily, I don’t have to travel far to get to these resorts.

One such perfect-for-me place is Kruger Park Lodge in Hazyview in the Mpumalanga province (eastern South Africa), only 4 hours away by car from Johannesburg. It has everything; restaurant, swimming pool, playground, tennis, table tennis, hiking trails, and more, even a supermarket just outside the resort. Its short distance from one of the gates of the Kruger National Park is a bonus and so is the 9-hole, 18 tee Gary Player-designed golf course.

Kruger Park Lodge
Kruger Park Lodge – Golf Course

Another golf resort I enjoyed was Hans Merensky in Phalaborwa in the Limpopo province (northern South Africa). It is quite a distance to drive though, almost 600km. It is best to leave Johannesburg in the morning and you could even grab breakfast at Picasso’s in Haenertsburg, a lovely country restaurant between Polokwane (formerly Pietersburg) and Tzaneen. The resort is only about 5 minutes away from the Phalaborwa gate of Kruger National Park.

Hans Merensky Estate - Golf Course
Hans Merensky Estate – Golf Course

Two of my favorite golf destinations are Sun City in the Northwest province and Champagne Sports Resort in Central Drakensberg.

I am rather biased when it comes to Champagne Sports Resort as that’s where I played well for the first time, after a break from golf for at least 2 years. I am hoping to go back soon for another round to see if the course and I am simpatico or if my round was merely 2nd time-beginner’s luck.

Champagne Sports Resort
Champagne Sports Resort – Golf Course

Champagne Sports Resort

In Sun City, I do like the desert style / bushveld Lost City Golf Course but being quite a terrible golfer despite starting over 6 years ago, the Gary Player Golf Course does intimidate me and I am yet to play there but I will play my first round before the year ends, hopefully just after the Nedbank Golf Challenge, when the course will be specially impeccably immaculate.

Other three magnificent golf resorts I have visited and courses played are Pinnacle Point Beach and Golf Club in Mosselbay in the Western Cape province and in KwaZulu Natal, San Lameer Estate in the south coast and Zimbali Golf Estate in the north coast. Detailed accounts of my experiences shall follow; the least I can do, as I have been privileged, indeed.

Pinnacle 01
Pinnacle Point Beach and Country Club – Golf Course
Pinnacle 02
Pinnacle Point Beach and Country Club
San Lameer 01
San Lameer Estate – Golf Course
San Lameer 02
San Lameer Estate
Zimbali Golf Estate
Zimbali Golf Estate

Unquestionably, there are many other spectacularly scenic golf courses in the country and they are on my must-visit-and-play list, including Fancourt Country Club, Legend Golf & Safari Resort and Leopard Creek Country Club (although we might have to ask a certain Charl to get us in Leopard Creek… after years of practice and I have broken 100), together with golf courses outside of South Africa, and I’m not talking about Phakalane Golf Course in Gaborone, Botswana but maybe Pebble Beach in California.

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