The Garden Route golfscape : a golfing destination in the rough
Thesis (MA (Geography and Environmental Studies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.
The Garden Route is located along the southern Cape coast of South Africa, between the Outeniqua Mountain Range and the coast, stretching from Gourits River in the west to Bloukranz River in the east. This region is recognised as a holiday destination and the centre of the southern Cape’s tourism industry. It has also gained popularity as a golfing destination set to proliferate in terms of new golfcourse developments (Golf Digest 2004; Gould 2004; Granger 2003). No known complete academic or public record is however available for the study area in which all the golf development types, namely short courses, public-municipal golf-courses and residential golf estates, are recorded. This leaves a gap in the understanding of the Garden Route as a golfing destination, as well as opening the floor for public speculation about the status of the Garden Route golfscape. This situation emphasises the need for a description of the Garden Route golfscape in order to achieve a better understanding of it and of the Garden Route as an emerging golfing destination. The research aspires to describe the Garden Route golfscape in terms of the geographic spatial distribution and characteristics of all the golf development types mentioned. It also aims to analyse how the public and developers of golf developments perceive the Garden Route golfscape. The research has shown that amongst the four identified intra-regional golfscapes of the Garden Route, namely the Mossel Bay, George, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay intra-regional golfscapes, the George intra-regional golfscape has been affected the most by golf developments. This intra-regional golfscape has the greatest number of existing golf developments, as well as the highest number of new golf development applications followed by Mossel Bay, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. It is also clear from the research that the press, through publishing factually incorrect and biased information, plays a significant role in negatively affecting the public’s perception about the Garden Route golfscape. The literature, as well as the results of the public opinion poll, identifies residential private golf estate developments as the development type responsible for controversial golf debates. The survey indicated that there is less concern and objection to public-municipal golf-courses and short courses. The lack of public support for golf developments is as a result of the fact that the public is not convinced that either the natural environment or tourism, will benefit from the Garden Route developing into an international golfing destination. At the time of research, the Garden Route hosted 22 approved golf developments of which nine are short courses, another nine are golf estates and the remaining four are public municipal courses. A total of eight new golf estates are proposed for the Garden Route. There are no proposals for new public-municipal golf-courses or short courses. The research has highlighted that existing challenges associated with Garden Route golf developments must be quantified through future research in order to compare the impacts (economic, social and environmental impacts) with that of other land uses in the study area. Results from such future exercises, combined with future in-depth environmental and human resource audits of the area, will help determine the carrying capacity of the study area for golf developments, which will in turn contribute to an even better understanding of the Garden Route golfscape.