- Montagu Street, Blanco George, 6530, South Africa
- 27 044 804 0000
Fancourt is set in the Western Cape’s scenic Garden Route region – think stunning mountain ranges, forests, and beaches along the Indian Ocean – near the South African city of George. It is a golf resort with an historic heritage. The estate goes back to the construction of Manor House by Henry Fancourt White, a surveyor who helped build the Montagu Pass over the nearby Outeniqua Mountains, in the late 1880s. It wasn’t until 1989 that Manor House was turned into a hotel and Fancourt a golf club by Helene and Andrea Pieterse.
Following that, German entrepreneur and keen golfer Dr Hasso Plattner and his wife Sabine bought and transformed the facilities in 1994, investing millions of rands to turn the estate into the premiere golfing destination it is today. Golf Digest SA editor Stuart McClean had no hesitation putting Fancourt at the top of his list of world’s top golf resorts. Golfers can choose from three championship courses here: The Links, Montagu and Outeniqua.
The Links is the signature course and has been ranked No. 43 in the world by US edition of Golf Digest. South African golfing great Gary Player and Phil Jacobs designed the layout and converted an airfield into a links-style challenge with undulating fairways and narrow greens. It tries to echo the challenges of great links courses of the United Kingdom, including revetted pot bunkers to protect greens. The Links has hosted the 2005 South African Open, the 2003 Presidents Cup as well as the 2012 Volvo Golf Champions on the European Tour.
Montagu, the original course that Gary Player also designed, is another brilliant challenge for guests staying at Fancourt Hotel or Manor House. Golf Digest SA has ranked it the sixth best course in the country in 2016. Here you’ll find a tree-lined layout with water hazards and its own undulating landscape to deal with.
You’ll find the views of the Outeniqua Mountains impressive as you tee off on the aptly named third course – Outeniqua, which although similar to Montagu with plenty of water hazards, is an easier assignment for golfers. A ‘stroke saver’ provides distances to hazards and greens on all three courses.
The challenges: Players on The Links – the top course here – should watch out for the lakes and wetland as well as strategically-placed pot bunkers that guard narrow, slick greens. Montagu and Outeniqua both challenge golfers with water hazards and trees to avoid, but the former is by far the hardest challenge.
When to play:
Year-round, however, each of the three courses is closed for maintenance during the year for weeks at a time, so check the schedule before booking your trip.
Par: The Links 73, Montagu 72 and Outeniqua 72
Yardage: The Links 6930 yards, Montagu 6714 yards and Outeniqua 6312 yards
Rating: The Links 74, Montagu 73 and Outeniqua 72
Best hole: The Links hardest hole is ‘Sheer Murrrder’, a 440-yard (402-meter) challenge that sees you hitting into the prevailing wind, trying to avoid a nasty bunker in the middle of the undulating fairway and staying away from the wetland on the left side. The green is flanked by two long bunkers.
Montagu’s par-5 eighteenth is a fine challenge – big hitters might carry the three bunkers on the left side of the fairway. That will give them a chance to hit over the lake in front of the green to set up birdie. Classic risk-reward.
Again, Outeniqua’s par-4 eighteenth (344 yards / 316 meters) is a fun finish – the tee shot must carry over a lake with four bunkers down the left side of the fairway and another lake on the left side of the green and bunker guarding the right side.
The pro says:
“Montagu and Outeniqua, both sprawling parkland courses, are ranked number sixth and sixteenth in the country respectively, while Scottish links-inspired course The Links takes pride of place at number one.” – Ryan Reid, Fancourt’s Director of Sport & Recreation
The resort experience:
Just a short drive from George Airport and you are in gorgeous countryside with the impressive Outeniqua Mountains in the background. The Fancourt resort sits on 613 hectares (1515 acres) and aims to treat guests to a luxurious retreat in one of two hotel lodgings – the Fancourt Hotel or the historic Manor House.
Fancourt Hotel and Manor both offer five-star services, with the latter providing butler-style attention for guests staying in its suites. But instead of being pampered all day, I’d be experiencing the many activities here. There’s the indoor heated Roman Bath to talk politics in, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, the golf academy, walking and cycling trails as well as birdwatching and fishing on the estate. After all that, you’d better get to the spa for a treatment such as the Roma Stone Placement Massage (a specialty using basalt rock).
Dine and wine:
There are four restaurants to dine at. The award-winning La Cantina offers traditional Italian (including wood-fired pizza), Monet’s at Fancourt, a restaurant and deli that has French cuisine (including chocolate eclairs) overlooking the Outeniqua course, the Club Lounge & Bar with American club food, and Henry White’s for classic European cuisine.
One of my favorite things to do is to try local wines and Fancourt has partnered with three of Western Cape’s vineyards (Graham Beck Wines, Jordan Wine Estate and Waterford Estate) so you can enjoy fine vintages with your food.
The Fancourt Hotel has 115 luxurious rooms and suites, all of which have a balcony to take in the mountain or Montagu course views. It starts at the Classic Room (32 square meters / 344 square feet) and moves through to the Two-Bedroom Suite (86 square meters / 926 square feet), which has its own dining area and fireplace. Each bedroom has its own bathroom.
The Manor House is a boutique lodging with 18 suites, each with butler-style service. Although it draws inspiration from the estate’s original Blanco House, Manor features modern design and furnishing. Guests can enjoy the library, swimming pool, lounge for afternoon tea and bar.
Lodging starts with the Homewood Suite (60 square meters, 197 square feet) has its own dining area, king bed, and balcony or patio. Or you can opt for the Master Bedroom (155 square meters, 508 square feet), two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, and lounge and dining areas.
The Manor House won Africa’s Best Romantic Boutique Hotel at the 2015 World Boutique Hotel Awards, so is a good option for couples.
Younger guests might be attracted to the Kidz Club (for ages 3-10) or Teen Lounge with pool table, foosball and table tennis. Without a doubt, I’d be taking the family to explore the Garden Route area. Swim in the Indian Ocean at one of the local beaches or let Fancourt book you in for some horse riding, hiking and mountain biking. There a some highly-rated safari experiences nearby, too, such as the Gondwana Game Reserve, where lions, elephants, cheetahs and rhinos roam free. Wild times.