Pecanwood country estate, 18 hole golf course, by Mike Manegold, Switzerland

When I played Pecanwood the first time in 1999, I wasnít particularly impressed. Knowing that Jack Nicklaus had designed it, I expected something really perfect.

The course is set in one of the most spectacular areas South Africa has to offer. Built on the shores of the Hartebeespoort Dam, in North West, South Africa and only one 1 hour and 15 minutes from the International airport of Johannesburg away, it had the potential to become one of the most exciting courses of them all.

But when I played it for the first time, the greens where in horrible shape, and I felt that there were much too many bunkers.

I could not understand the pattern or figure out why they where all there and what they were needed for. With all the building going on back then, endless rows of little brick houses to be sold to yet-to-materialise owners on the left and right of the fairways... oh God, I was so disappointed. It seemed just like one of these many rip-off schemes, where they try to sell houses, but donít care about the golf.

One year later, Daniela and Enzo had materialised. They came from Italy, they had bought of one of the houses at the Pecanwood Estate and invited me to join them on a round in April 2000.

I liked the idea, because I liked the people. Con gente cosi amabile, tutto va molto piu facile. And I wanted to find out how the course had developed. Was it still the same?

I arrived at 1 Oíclock in front of the clubhouse. It has been a concrete carcass the first time around, but now it was finished and looked very impressive.

Someone with a cart arrived, driving me and my bag to the reception. What a change! A great pro-shop, lots of people (they all seemed to be very sophisticated). And some friendly personnel who helped me finding my way around the premises.

Daniela took a golf cart for herself, while I wanted to walk, only to be very happy later on to share her cart with her.

The course is very long. The fairways were in absolutely perfect conditions. And the greens? I could not recognised them any more. Fast, very fast!

Enzo told me that they worked permanently on the course. Every time he had played it, it was in better shape.

The fist nine holes were still completely open and no houses disturbed the view towards the Magalies Mountains and the lake. Itís breathtaking.

Then came the second nine, all between the houses, but it was actually not that disturbing any more.

They took great care to add artificial lake hazards and surrounding gardens.

Sometimes I just had to stop, only to marvel at the sights, and when I had the chance to play towards the lake, it was so beautiful that my bad score did not matter anymore.

In a brochure of the Pecanwood golf course they stake the following claim: This is a course designed to test your skills to the full and to set new standards among championship courses in South Africa. So when the Golden Bear tells you that Pecanwood will soon become the number 1 ranked golf course in South Africa, you have to take him seriously.

I could not agree more.

There is only thing I would love to ask the owner of this wonderful piece of real estate: stop building more houses. Itís perfect the way it is now, but if there are too many, it will not be anymore.

Any comments? Please send them to Mike,


Click here for Pierre Lucatís alternative opinion!