Designed by Peter Matkovich, the Arabella Golf Club is high profile, but disappointing, resort and estate course an hour outside Cape Town. Built around Southern Africa’s largest lagoon, the final two holes on each nine here touch the lagoon and are predictably admired throughout the country, but each is flawed and the rest of the course is sadly uninspiring.
The bunkering at Arabella is quite poor; greenside bunkers look reasonable but most of the fairway traps are mere scrapes only an inch or two deep and often built into small mounds that look totally artificial. The worst example is on the right bending 11th, which heads straight at a house between two mounded scrapes and then turns and crosses a silly oval bunker no more than a few inches deep and set right in front of the green. Some of the waste style bunkers running alongside the primary hazards are a little better visually, but these traps tend to be anti-strategic as they promote play away from the water. Further, being so shallow the sprawling traps on the 8th, 9th and 18th, which feature in most Arabella photography, offer no real challenge to the good players.
Arabella isn’t a poor course, but South Africa is full of mediocre golf and with the right approach to design and some shaping sophistication this track could have been one of the real standouts.