Cotswold Downs Golf Club
Mens: 6193m (6773 yards)
A relatively new golf and lifestyle estate in Hillcrest, Kwazulu Natal, Cotswold Downs Golf Club is a par 72 championship course designed by Peter Matkovich. The course is designed to USGA specification and is a true test for the amateur golfer. The course is not quite links in its design but it has that feel about it. Huge undulating fairways and wide open spaces means it feels like it could be a links course, but there is just enough different with Cotswold Downs to set it completely apart. What Cotswold Downs Golf Club does very well is use the hills and undulations to great effect. Elevated tee boxes on some holes lay before you all the dangers you might face and those elevated tee boxes are coupled with several tee shots to blind landing areas. Thankfully the golf carts are GPS enabled, meaning there is no danger truly out of eye shot.
At a shade over 6,000m, the course is not very long, but as mentioned before, it uses what it has to prevent the short length from being an issue. The shorter holes use uphill tee shots and approaches to make club selection an issue and the longer downhill holes are made difficult by making hazards extremely visible. Cotswold Downs Golf Club does sometimes feel a bit gimmicky, but in the end, most golfers will walk off the course feeling satisfied. Maybe not always with the score, but always with the course.
To say the 173m par three 5th hole is anything but the featured hole on the front nine would be a farce. The first hole is a beautiful hole that provides both a test and pleasure, but the 5th hole is the one that most golfers will remember when they walk off the course. The reason this particular par 3 is so memorable is because the tee shot is played from high up on the edge of a hill, to a green that seems hundreds of meters away. The difficulty with the 5th hole is not making the 173m over water, but not making too many meters over the green. With the sharp drop in elevation and water short of the green, you struggle to take less club for fear of taking too little. The 5th hole is a good test of trust, and a great hole to add to the list of “coolest holes I have ever played”. The degree of difficulty on this hole is medium high. Par is a great escape.
This is a short par 5 that also boasts a lovely elevation off the tee box. At a shade over 400m, it is by no means considered a long hole, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for in creativity of design. From the tee box secluded high up in the tree covered hillside you look down at a fairway that dog legs to the right. Because of the short distance, driver is not an option for the longer hitters off the tee. This means the fairway bunkers which seem to be everywhere come into play. Finding the short grass off the tee will still leave you with a booming second shot over water to a green that slopes heavily from back to front and falls off sharply to the water. The green itself is wide, but extremely thin, so a high approach is necessary to stop the ball on the dance floor. Most golfers will attempt the green in two, but two simple pitch shots could leave you in a much stronger position that a long approach in. The degree of difficulty on this hole is low, despite the challenges, so you can definitely get a shot back here, but the fun levels are extremely high.