What Makes a Golf Course a “Must-Play” Course?

Everyone has their preferences, especially when it comes to golf. You’ve probably got that one lucky club, your preferred peak cap and maybe even your signature golfing fragrance. But one aspect of golf you probably share with quite a few fellow sportsmen is your favourite course.

There are plenty of good golf courses out there, but none compare to those few that hold your heart. You’re probably already picturing those exciting moments before tee-off at the first hole. You just know it’s going to be a great round. But what it is about those courses that have you yearning for this experience? It’s not easy to always tell. Perhaps it’s a combination of things that make up an entire event. We’ve put together some elements that make it a “must-play” course:

On the Course

As you make your way through the different golf courses South Africa has to offer, you’ll notice that no course is exactly the same. However, courses may have similar features that make them particularly good to visit.


As with anything else in life, a golf course that isn’t well-maintained can’t possibly provide a good experience. If the golf course is in bad shape, it affects the outcome of your game. Sand bunkers that don’t get raked and ball marks that are never repaired become more of a nightmare over time. The best golf courses have the most efficient maintenance plans and teams. Better yet, a good maintenance schedule will ensure that the daily upkeep continues without interfering with play. If there’s one thing that makes a bad round, it’s tons of interruptions. Check out some examples of well-maintained Gauteng courses here.   


Designing a golf course is really an art form. It takes immense planning, strategy and expertise. The strategy of the course speaks to the basics – bunkers, tees, green designs, and the surrounding landscape. A good course is planned to every last detail, with no rock, tree or hole left undecided. A designer considers the balance between course unity and variety. They measure lines, put together compositions and fit it all to scale.

But the features can only stand out if they are complemented by a good routing plan. A continual and flowing golf experience works to showcase a course’s best features. With this plan in place, a functional course design meets a beautiful design, and the results are wonderful. Take for example the design at Dainfern golf course, a course designed by Gary Player and one of South Africa’s top 100 golf courses. This course was developed around the Jukskei River, which comes into play on five holes. The terrain is a fantastic challenge for amateurs and professionals alike, which marks an important aspect of any game. Good course design has got to provide some sort of challenge to each individual, or there would be no point in bettering your game.

The Surrounding Features

Of course (excuse the pun), it’s not just about the golf course on its own, it’s about the golfing lifestyle. Dainfern just wouldn’t be Dainfern without all the surrounding features that make the experience.


Dams, water features, natural rocky outcrops, weeping willows as well as abundant bird life all make up the tranquil country ambience you get when you play at Dainfern. If you’re going to spend a day out on the course, a pretty landscape can only make it that much better. This is why landscape should be considered when designing the course itself. It not only affects the way a course looks but how the experience feels too.


After a long day of golf, the best thing to do is relax at a bar or restaurant overlooking the course. You can chat, reminisce and enjoy a cold beer or something to eat. Plus, you can shower away the sweat (hopefully not tears) before arriving home. Amenities are a big consideration into golf club membership, as it’s those little extras that really make the difference.

What aspects of a golf course do you feel make or break your experience?

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.