Graaff-Reinet Festival Week
Golf Digest South Africa|May 2017
Graaff-Reinet Festival Week

Enjoying the 21st Proudfoot Trophy at a Remarkable Karoo 9-holer.
 

Stuart McLean

Historic Graaff-Reinet is a beautiful Karoo town, said to be home to more national monuments than any other place in South Africa. Surrounded by mountains, it is a lonely settlement in the heart of this arid southern region, 225 kilo metres north of Port Elizabeth.

In bygone days, Graaff-Reinet produced outstanding sportsmen, among them our earliest golfing legend, Douglas Proudfoot. This undisputed national amateur champion from the 1890s bequeathed the Proudfoot Trophy for the winner of the SA Amateur qualifying rounds, and his name was embraced for an annual festival of golf in Graaff-Reinet.

Not having a handicap low enough to enter the SA Amateur, I settled for the other Proudfoot Trophy, where I could familiarise myself with one of the best 9-hole layouts in South Africa – rated in the top 10 of 9-holers by Golf Digest in 2013. Following my March visit I can confirm that Graaff-Reinet comfortably deserves its place on that list.

This is a relatively modern layout, one that would astonish Mr Proudfoot, who never lived to see the creation of a grass course in his home town, despite hanging around until as late as 1960. He played on oil and sand greens. Only in the early 1990s did this green oasis in the Karoo take root. It has grown into a stunning bushveld location, filled with some of the spikiest thorn trees in Africa.

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May 2017