Located along South Africa’s popular Garden Route, the Fancourt Estate had existed for more than one hundred years before it was transformed into a golf destination in the 1980’s when Gary Player designed the first of his four courses here. Following a string of financial failures the estate was purchased a decade later by Dr Hasso Plattner, the German billionaire founder of software giant SAP. Plattner had ambitious expansion plans for the resort, which included the addition of the championship Links course to host the 2002 President's Cup.
One of the earlier courses, Montagu, was initially designed by Gary Player and ranked number 1 in South Africa by the barely credible panel at South Africa Golf Digest. Following the President's Cup, Montagu slipped to 4th in the same rankings and Plattner decided to act, employing David McLay Kidd and spending millions of dollars redesigning all eighteen holes on the course. The results have been most disappointing, however, with Kidd unable to transform what was a pretty ordinary residential layout into anything markedly superior. The course does have its appealing moments, but there aren't great holes here and the number of anti-strategic holes, where you are either discouraged from taking on a hazard or unrewarded for an aggressive play is unfortunate. Kidd's apparent focus on lush turf and resort style bunkering seems at odds to his more celebrated linksy layouts in the US and Europe, but perhaps his client had some influence here.
Ultimately, Fancourt is a fine resort with plenty to keep the active visitor busy but The Links is the best track here and considerably more impressive than the three layouts on the main resort property.