Pearl Valley was the second Jack Nicklaus Signature course to open in South Africa when it was officially inaugurated in a match between the Great Bear and another golfing great, Gary Player, in 2003.
Laid out within a 500-acre residential estate in the Cape Winelands, Pearl Valley is one of the most visually pleasing courses imaginable, with brilliant white river sand bunkers that contrast sharply against the varying emerald hues of the fairways and greens.
Situated in a valley within the Drakenstein Mountains, the course is largely laid out on the level and, interestingly, the eight par three and par five holes on the card play in different directions; ensuring that the winter northwesterly and the summer southeasterly winds are not experienced from the same direction in relation to the layout of these holes.
The 230-yard par three 3rd is one of the more memorable holes on the front nine with water cutting in on the right side of the putting surface and a greenside bunker lurking to catch wayward tee shots. On the back nine, both the par fives are fantastic holes. The 13th has a creek that is crossed three times from tee to green whilst many regard the 18th as simply the best finishing hole in the country.
The South African Open was held at Pearl Valley for three consecutive years from 2007. James Kingston was the first to win here at Paarl and Richard Sterne won the following year with Richie Ramsay lifting the title in 2010.
A second 18-hole course “Bear’s Best” was mooted to open at Pearl Valley, but we have no further details. If you know any more, please contact us.
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Average Reviewers Score:
Played Pearl Valley when staying in Franschhoek and the course is located midway between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. The gated community was well underway when I played and the focus seemed to be on the selling of real estate rather than the course. Having said that, the course itself was in famous condition but there were development scars around the edges of the course where the property was clearly meant to be. I suspect things have now changed, as it was a back in 2005 when I was there. The course is a classic Nicklaus layout with risk and reward the name of the game. Bold bunkering, plenty of water, enormous greens and numerous teeing grounds are the order of the day. Considering the relatively flat topography, they have created a decent course which played long and tough when I was there. I couldn’t help but gaze at the foothills of the mountains wondering what this course could have been had they been able to utilise more significant changes in elevation.