The Royal Port Alfred Golf Club is one of four golf clubs in South Africa which have been granted the right to use the “Royal” prefix. The others are Royal Cape, Royal Durban and Royal Johannesburg & Kensington.
In the late 1890’s Dr WH Atherstone and a group of friends tried a game of golf over the east flats adjacent to the river and decided that a golf course would be a fine asset for the developing town. The Town Council declined the use of this ground but in 1906 agreed that some derelict erven in the undeveloped township of Saltvlei could be utilized for this purpose.
On 31 July 1907 a meeting was held in Dr Atherstone’s house and he and four others (W Stow, WH Vroom, GH Holloway and Dr CE Jones-Phillipson) agreed to donate £20.00 each to establish the club.
Dr Atherstone proceeded to lay out the first 9 holes with shell grit being used for the greens. The first AGM of the club was held at the Railway Hotel and Sir Walter Healy-Hutchison (The Governor of the Cape Colony) was elected President. The second President elected in 1910 was Leander Starr Jameson of Jameson raid notoriety! By April 1908 an additional nine holes had been designed and constructed by Dr Atherstone with the assistance of L Walters, a Johannesburg professional and on the 25 to 27 of that month the Opening Tournament was held with 5 professionals competing for the £30.00 prize.
Layout – In 1923 a visitor described the course as “A monument to the origins of golf played on a South African links next to a southern sea” Not much has changed since then.
The undulating course snakes its way through thickets of pristine coastal forest and over hilly dunes always with the smell and sounds of the Indian Ocean close by whose blue waters offer the most panoramic views from many of the fairways. In true links tradition every slope, mound and dip remains untouched, demanding creative shot making and deft reading of angles.
The course is fairly short at 5739 (ladies 5025) meters and on windless days can be vulnerable. However days such as these are rare and you are more likely than not to encounter the dominant westerly or less common easterly blowing up and down the coast. On one day you will be able to hit a little wedge to the short 11th, Punch Bowl but the next you will need a one wood.
A favourite with members and visitors alike is the par 4 12th, “Greenmantle” where the views of the ocean from the back markers are superb. So taken with the view in 1925 the Prince of Wales attempted to drive a ball directly from here into the sea. The ball was recovered and is on display at the Club House.
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Royal Port Alfred Golf Club