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Business and Golf: Johannesburg

Today, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is the largest in Africa, and the city’s economy has become one of the continent’s most vibrant, along with Cairo’s and Cape Town’s.

Business Climate

When South Africa hosts the 2010 FIFA World Cup later this year, Johannesburg will play a marquee role. The event has spurred major municipal developments across town, including the construction of Soccer City, a 95,000-seat stadium complex, and a new 45-mile Metrorail between Johannesburg and Pretoria, another host city. Historically, the Johannesburg economy has revolved around the mining industry—principally the vast reserves of gold, platinum and diamonds located in and around the city—but as those natural resources have slowly dwindled, banking, finance and manufacturing have come to the forefront. Today, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is the largest in Africa, and the city’s economy has become one of the continent’s most vibrant, along with Cairo’s and Cape Town’s.

Choice Hotel

The Grace (54 Bath Ave., +27 (0)11 280 7200) is located in the upscale Rosebank district. This luxurious, 73-room boutique hotel is convenient to the wealthy Sandton financial district and is linked by a skybridge to the Mall of Rosebank.

Business Breakfast

Enjoy a classic breakfast of eggs, omelet or bacon, or choose from a wide variety of gourmet sandwiches, along with the most expertly prepared coffee drinks around at Tasha’s (Shop 14 in the Piazza, +27 (0)11 684 1781), in the trendy Melrose Arch district.

Seal the Deal

Auberge Michel (122 Pretoria Ave., +27 (0)11 883 7013), in Sandton, blends the traditional French influences of Lyon-born proprietor Michel Morand with local produce and South African wild game (such as springbok), along with a broad wine list that balances regional powerhouses with French bordeaux and burgundies.

Don’t Miss

The Gonçalves brothers have developed four Pigalle restaurants between Cape Town and Johannesburg. The newest outpost, in Melrose Arch (Shop HL 48, +27(0) 11 684 2711), opened last year and specializes in eclectically themed sushi, shellfish, line-caught ocean fare and grilled preparations.

Golfscape

Johannesburg is located in eastern South Africa, on an elevated plateau known as the Highveld. At more than 5,500 feet above sea level, you can expect the ball to carry almost 10 percent farther than at sea level on courses ranging from old parkland city clubs to newer layouts in the prairies and savannahs, just outside the metropolitan areas.

Play

A recently completed greens and bunker renovation has updated one of the city’s best historic parkland courses, Glendower Country Club (glendower.co.za, $30–50), originally designed by British architect Charles Alison in 1937. Ernie Els’s new Gardener Ross Golf Club (grgolf.co.za, $60–80), voted Best New Course in the Gauteng Province in 2008, is a thoroughly modern design rolling broadly through the grasslands just outside of Pretoria, northeast of Johannesburg, with large, shapely greens and artistically rendered bunkers with rolled-down grass faces.

Stay an Extra Day

One of the world’s great links courses not located in Great Britain is Durban Country Club (dcclub.co.za, $75) in Durban, about five hours southwest of Johannesburg. Though it can feel isolated, the holes play like true links as they ramble and bubble across firm, sandy soil, alongside the breezy shore of the Indian Ocean.

When to Go

Unless you’re a soccer fan, you might want to avoid visiting South Africa during the World Cup, since lodging will be at a premium. Afternoon thunderstorms are common from October to April, so prepare accordingly.


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