WESTERN CAPE, South Africa -- The Arabella Country Estate -- home to the spectacular Arabella Golf Club -- is either close enough to Cape Town for a day trip or far enough away to be a great getaway. It all depends on your perspective regarding the one-and-a-half-hour drive.
Arabella, ranked fifth among the country's best courses by Golf Digest South Africa in 2014, is certainly worth the effort either way. The 6,381-meter golf course overlooks the tranquil Bot River Lagoon with a backdrop of the Palmiet Mountain Range.
South African architect Peter Matkovich's best holes at Arabella either fall dramatically to the lagoon (holes 8 and 16) or hug it (holes 9, 17 and 18). The ninth hole looks ominous from the tee even though it's only 297 meters (roughly 325 yards). Golfers must clear wetlands and the waste bunker up the left side to find the fairway tilting away from them. The 18th, a par 5, is similar except the waste bunker and wetlands run up the right (opposite) side.
Those who want to stay longer than just a round of golf can book a night or two at the luxurious 145-room Arabella Hotel & Spa, part of the chain of African Pride Hotels. The estate will eventually build out to 236 homes. Large swaths will remain undeveloped, though, keeping this beautiful setting in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve mostly intact.