The River Club

The River Club in Cape Town

Open Mon - Sun for play, food and fun.
Restaurant: 08:00-22:00
Driving Range: 08:00-21:00
 
+27 (0)21 448 6117
Liesbeek Parkway | Observatory | Cape Town
www.riverclub.co.za
info@riverclub.co.za
RiverClubCpt
The River Club

The River Club in Cape Town

The reinvigorated, all-in-one practice playground that wants you to have a down-to-earth golfing experience on its gorgeous greens

There’s nothing quite like a makeover to reinvigorate the psyche, generate a little bit of buzz and usher in a new era.  And while this strategy has proven to be a very successful formula for some of the world’s most famous pop stars, it also seems to have worked wonders for The River Club in Cape Town. 



Over the last couple of years, the centrally located golf and conference centre hasn’t exactly distinguished itself as a must-visit spot in the Mother City, at least in my eyes and those of the very few golfers that I know.  Rather, those serious about their putting and driving viewed the River Club as a bit of a white elephant, and for my non-golfer friends and I, we assumed the space, like all other golfing zones in Cape Town, was where, older white men dressed in clashing patterns who think that a helicopter is an acceptable and affordable everyday form of transport came to seal mergers and talk fiscal policy.

But an outing to the recently renovated venue shifted my perspective somewhat thanks in part to the new owners who seem to have taken it upon themselves to transform the space into a newly energised and vibrant hangout spot “for pros, for fun, for everyone”, as the company logo states.



You’ll know the innovative team as the visionaries behind Daddy Long Legs Hotel, Grand Daddy Hotel, The Old Biscuit Mill and the Woodstock Exchange – spaces that have asserted themselves as much-talked about Mother City destinations. And now, it seems, the group is bringing that same ‘sense of place’ to the golfing realm.

Conveniently located on the corner of Liesbeek Parkway and Observatory Road, the club and conference centre emanates a laidback and welcoming atmosphere that takes me by surprise; I was expecting to walk into a fairly rundown, early 20th-century building, but the interior is sleek, uncluttered and radiating with an accessible sheen.  Seconds after, I am greeted by the friendly receptionist, and later, the centre’s marketing manager and my tour guide for the day, Yael Duncan.

“The idea is to make the club more of a community space that welcomes everybody,” says Yael as we stroll around the property, which boasts stunning views of Table Mountain and, of course, the sprawling greens.



Part of the River Club’s transformation manifested as a reinvigoration of its driving range’s undercover bays. The coves have all received a fresh coat of paint, new bay dividers and revamped strike surfaces to give patrons a more authentic feel to their practice sessions.  And whether the spruced up bays are responsible for attracting a diverse clientele or not, from my vantage point (a safe distance from the amateur swinger, of course) I can see a wide range of people enjoying perfecting their swings. 

All in all, the centre offers an impressive 90 driving bays (24 of which are under cover), a 9-hole, par 27 “mashie” (the name given to a typical club of choice for a short circuit) course as well as a putting and chipping facility for pros and beginners who want to show off their skills or improve their game and for those who just want to have a swing at it. And for players who need some professional assistance and guidance, there is the on-site teaching academy, The SA Golf Institute, that offers coaching lessons. Do note: these sessions must be booked via the Institute and not The River Club.



Not to mention, in November 2014, the centre also opened a Best of Golf South Africa shop that stocks all the paraphernalia an aspiring Tiger Woods or Annika Sörenstam can dream of.  The boutique is a perfect example of The River Club’s refreshed look and feel, as is the new River Rascals Kids Club.

As the name of the facility suggests, this is the place where parents can leave their little ones in the hands of qualified caretakers.  Children between the ages of 1 and 12 (toddlers under 3 years must be accompanied by a guardian) can enjoy playing on slides and swings and sand pits.

We’ve come to the end of the tour, and Yael and I sit down to have chat over some tea and coffee in another new addition to the property, a Slug & Lettuce restaurant.  The eatery has both indoor and outdoor seating so guests can enjoy views of the sprawling and lush practice golf course while tucking into a variety of meals from the à la carte menu.



“The bottom line is that we want people to visit us and have a good time, whether it is to enjoy some fun with the whole family, have some drinks with mates after work or just practise your golf,” summates Yael.

And perhaps as a testament to the River Club’s enticing and convincing offering, I even found myself seriously considering having a swing at some balls at the driving range.

Tip:  The River Club is also a popular conference centre and function venue in Cape Town.  It offers eight rooms, which have also been renovated with colours and textures reminiscent of South African landscape, of various sizes for corporate events, exhibitions, launches and even birthday parties.  The establishment can take care of décor and catering as well and is equipped with audio—visual devices. For more info, visit www.riverclub.co.za/index.php/meet/conference.

What's more, every Monday the River Club offers 20% off their Full-day Conference Package. Instead of paying R385p/p, conference guests will pay a mere R308p/p on Mondays only for the River Club's Monday Conference Madness Special. River Club’s Full-day Conference Package includes tea and coffee on arrival, freshly baked muffins, a mid-morning tea and coffee break with biscuits, a two-course sit-down meal or finger lunch, bottled spring water as well as a mid-afternoon tea and coffee break with biscuits.

The Bill:  A single game (one round of 9 holes) on the mashie course costs R65p/p (R55p/p for juniors, students and seniors).  The monthly rate rings in at R295p/p for unlimited rounds (R195 for juniors, students and seniors).  For the driving range, 50 balls cost R35p/p, while the unlimited daily option is merely R89p/p.  Golf club hire is R10 per club and the full mashie set (bag, gap wedge, lob wedge and putter) is R35 to rent.  The double-storey range is open during the same times as the mashie course.

Membership fees for The River Club Golf and Conference Centre

 

Driving Range

Mashie Course

Combo

     

 

Monthly rates

Main Member

R325p/m

R325p/m

R395p/m

Junior/Senior Member

R225p/m

R225p/m

R325p/m

Family Add-on

R120p/m

R120p/m

R220p/m


For a full list of membership benefits, visit http://riverclub.co.za/index.php/join

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Looking to improve your swing a spot closer to your area?  Here’s a round-up of some of the top golf courses in and around Cape Town.

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