Gary Player Country Club:
The ultimate golf test
Whether it’s because of the treacherous four-inch rough, ultra-narrow fairways, chaotic cross-winds or tiny greens, former Nedbank Golf Challenge champions agree: even after 40 years, the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City remains a brutal test of a golfer’s mettle.
The par-72 golf course, which opened at Sun City in the late Seventies and was designed by nine-time Major-winner Gary Player, is home to "Africa's Major", is a popular fixture on the European Tour's lucrative Race to Dubai, and has taken many famous scalps over the years. And there's sure to be more carnage when the 2019 edition of the Nedbank Golf Challenge gets underway on 14 November.
The 2017 Nedbank Golf Challenge champion and local favourite, South Africa's Branden Grace, sums it up when he describes the course as an all-round test of a professional's game. "Pretty much everything in your game must be on song here. It's a brutal test, especially when the wind starts swirling. You think it's coming off the left and then it's off the right."
Swede Henrik Stenson and German golfer Martin Kaymer, who finished top of the leaderboard in 2008 and 2012 respectively, both point to the importance of a good iron game and hitting the fairways as keys to conquering the course.
And another fan favourite, Retief Goosen, who holds the 2004 Nedbank Golf Challenge and two US Open wins among his career titles, says that hitting the fairways becomes even more difficult when the wind is creating havoc. "This golf course is often set up like a Major championship during the Nedbank Golf Challenge," says Goosen. "The fairways are narrow and the rough is sometimes four inches deep. With the wind that blows it becomes very tricky."
Pretty much everything in your game must be on song here. It's a brutal test, especially when the wind starts swirling. You think it's coming off the left and then it's off the right.
It may offer a stern challenge to the world's best players, but as designer and nine-time Major winner Gary Player attests, the Gary Player Country Club was also tough to construct.
"Water is so vitally important, and that was the first challenge. We had to build a pipeline to pump the water in from miles away to service the course. The rock, lack of topsoil, mountains and natural vegetation also proved difficult to manage when shaping the course properly."
"Through the years we have been able to make minor adjustments to combat the advancement in the golf ball and equipment. It's a tough test for professionals, but also a course amateurs can enjoy when they are on holiday having fun at the resort," says Player, who also designed the resort's second course at the Lost City.
Delighted that the course has stood the test of time and how Sun International founder Sol Kerzner's vision was realised, Player promises that there is more to come.
"Our design team, along with Sun International, continually looks at ways to improve the course and fan experience for the Nedbank Golf Challenge, and also for golf enthusiasts who travel around the world to this absolute paradise."said Gary Player.