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Gary Player Country Club

By Neville Leck Last updated: 2nd December 2013

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The 18th at Gary Player CC on day 4 of a Nedbank championship

The 18th at Gary Player CC on day 4 of a Nedbank championship

The Gary Player Country Club, the venue for the annual Nedbank Golf Challenge, is the premier golf course and one of the major attractions at the lavish Sun City resort in the north west region of South Africa.

It is currently ranked No 2 behind Leopard Creek in South Africa and is in the World's top 60.

The brain-child of hotel magnate Sol Kerzner, Sun City today is a world-renowned resort complex boasting casinos, hotels, a leisure centre that features year-round live entertainment by some the world's best performers and wonderful water features that include man-made surfing waves and giant water chutes.

It also offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor facilities that cater for such sports as golf, tennis, ten-pin bowling and indoor football

Sun City describes itself as having "a unique heartbeat and an African rhythm of its own and is unlike any other Resort destination in the world".

It's world-class hotels including "the magnificent Palace of the Lost City that glitters like a jewel beneath the African sun, brilliant in its rain forest surroundings and luxurious in its detail and design".

Adjoining the Resort, is the beautiful Pilanesberg National Park, which will delight game viewers as it is a malaria free zone and home to the 'Big five'.

SUN CITY GOLF

Sun City has two outstanding golf courses, the exotic Lost City course which features crocodiles in one of its ponds, and its world-renowned championship course at the Gary Player Country club, which for some considerable time now has consistently been rated as the number one or two course in South Africa.

Presently it ranks No.2 to Leopard Creek, the venue for last week's European Tour event, the Alfred Dunhill Championship.

From its plush kikuyu fairways and immaculate bent-grass greens to its state-of-the-art clubhouse, the Gary Player Country Club exudes quality.

Designed by Gary Player and Ron Kirkby and named after Player in celebration of his status as South Africa's greatest golfer, this par 72, Country Club lay-out, at nearly 7,000 metres (7,655 yards) off the championship tees, is one of the longest in the world and is invariably immaculately presented, despite the fact that it is a resort course and not exclusively private like Augusta National.

It is busy throughput the year and about the only time it is not in use by the public is briefly before and during tournaments and on Mondays when it is closed to golfers who are re-directed to the nearby Lost City course.

Gary Player Country Club's Kikuyu-grassed fairways and bent grass greens contrast superbly with the more barren thorn-scrub and aloe-covered hillsides through which this parkland course meanders.

The putting surfaces are fast, firm and perfect, and their 'clover-leaf' patterning allows for a variety of elusive pin positions.

The course has many sets of tees and can be enjoyed by players of very different abilities.

The fairways are in the main generally wide, but are bordered by tough kikuyu rough and untended African bushveld which, together with the tricky greens constitute the course's main defences.

Water comes into play on five holes, most famously on the par-five 9th with its island green which is surrounded by waterfalls and artificial rocks.

The course is the perfect venue for what has become to be known as Africa's "showcase of golf".

Purely as a test of shot-making, it has few peers in the world, and the natural amphitheaters at the 9th and 18th holes, as well as at several other vantage points around the course, can comfortably accommodate the thousands of spectators that each year flock to see some of the best players in the world slug it out for big bucks in the battle of the bushveld.

Its signature Hole?

They're all good at the Gary Player Country Club, but for risk and reward, the stand-out is the 9th.

Play this par 5 from the forward tees and then have a go for the island green with your second and thrill to the challenge of this superb test of golf.

GARY PLAYER CC - HOLE-BY HOLE

1st Hole - 403 metres Par 4

A relatively easy opening hole, it has been toughened up by the addition of a fairway bunker that penalizes the pulled tee shot. Distance control of the approach shot played with a medium to short-iron is key. Landing in the greenside bunkers, or finishing beyond the green makes for a difficult recovery shot.

2nd Hole - 520 metres Par 5

Although lengthened, most players will have a go at this green with their second shots. The landing area of the drive is tight, with the fairways cambered in the opposite direction to the dogleg and the two fairway bunkers guarding the right side of the fairway. The hole usually averages under par for the Nedbank Challenge, but bunkering makes it important to hit accurate approach shots.

3rd Hole - 411 metres Par 4

Rated by most as the finest par four on the course, it makes the tee shot to the narrow fairway daunting, for finding the thick rough on either the left or right of it often results in shots being dropped. The uphill approach to the two-tiered green requires pin-point accuracy for missing it can leave the player with a monstrously difficult recovery shot.

4th Hole - 195 metres Par 3

The first par three is a hole where most players play conservatively for the centre of the green. Played from above it, the green

presents a clearly-defined target but distance control here is again vital for shots that are short will land in the pond and shots that are long will make for a very nasty downhill putt.

5th Hole - 449 metres Par 4

This hole has been lengthened a lot, and the increased yardage and left-to-right sloping fairway calls for a respectable tee shot. A new fairway bunker on the left of the fairway makes this hole, once seen as an easy birdie opportunity, something that needs to be handled with respect, particularly when the pin is placed in the right portion of the green, when two perfect shots are need to make birdie.

6th Hole - 388 metres Par 4

This is the shortest par 4 on the course. Most players select a long-iron or fairway wood in order to put their tee shots on the flattest section of fairway to the right of the fairway bunker. Although offering a good birdie chance if played correctly, life can be made difficult if the tee shot strays to the left side of the fairway where the green is not visible

7th Hole - 206 metres Par 3

A long par 3 played uphill which makes it difficult to gauge the depth of the green, and where a deep pot bunker awaits the shot slightly pushed or blocked to the right, and were more bunkering punishes a shot played left of the intended line. Not the favourite short hole on the course.

8th Hole - 450 metres Par 4

This hole demands pin-point accuracy off the tee, and a perfectly judged uphill approach to a well-guarded green and it is not for nothing that it is seen as the most intimidating par four hole on the course. Perhaps no hole at Sun City has done more damage to aspiring winners. Most players are happy to take a par and run.

9th Hole - 545 metres Par 5

One of the gallery's favourite holes, partly because of its spectacular spectator amphitheater and partly because it so often creates high drama. The island green is a large one, it can look like a postage stamp to players setting up their approach shots knowing full well that a slight miss-hit can mean disaster in the water, rocks and sand guarding it and although birdies and even eagles have been made here, they are have been more than matched by bogies and double bogies.

10th Hole - 500 metres Par 5

The start to the back nine offers a good chance to start with a birdie, unless tee shots find the fairway bunkers and force players to lay up short and left of the green. The small, narrow putting green is not visible from the drive's landing area, and few players are able to hit, and keep their ball on this green. Most will rely on their ability with the wedge to secure a four.

11th Hole - 419 metres Par 4

The sharpest dogleg on the course where the tee shot must carry a deep ravine. The longer hitters can attempt to cut off some of the doglegs angle, but disaster awaits the less-than-perfect drive. The approach to the green is played with either a medium iron or a wedge, depending on which tee box is used.

12th Hole - 200 metres Par 3

This short hole plays longer than the indicated length, and any shot finishing beyond the flag means an extremely fast putt. The narrow entrance to the green is protected by two pot bunkers on the right, and a vast expanse of sand on the left. With the pin placed in the left rear portion of the green, the hole becomes the toughest par three on the course.

13th Hole - 406 metres Par 4

This hole requires a drive to be guided between fairway bunkers and an approach shot that must be played to one of the most difficult greens on the course. This is the highest point on the course, so any wind that might be blowing will have a greater affect here than anywhere else.

14th Hole - 550 metres Par 5

This is the longest hole on the course, and from the back tee it is mostly played as a three-shotter. The fairway appears to be narrower than it is from the championship tee, with the right portion obscured by trees. The narrow green is surrounded by sand, and the approach shot is made more difficult by the fact that it is normally played from a downhill lie.

15th Hole - 431 metres Par 4

One of the most difficult fairways to hit because of a nasty bunker on its left side and a landing area that slopes severely to the right. When the hole is cut on the

right side of the green makes hitting the right approach shot vital. A reasonably straightforward hole if played efficiently, but beware of even small mistakes.

16th Hole - 193 metres Par 3

This beautiful par 3 played downhill earns high marks for aesthetics as well as for shot value. Depending on the tee box and the pin placement, it can take any club from an 8-iron to a 4-iron to get the ball near the hole. It is here where sudden-death playoffs usually start - and sometimes end.

17th Hole - 437 metres Par 4

This hole has been drastically altered recently, and what was formerly a toothless birdie maker is now a much tougher proposition with a lake now coming into play on the approach top the green.

18th Hole - 459 metres Par 4

A magnificent finishing hole with a natural amphitheater and a great atmosphere , it has seen plenty of drama down the years. A tight drive, then an approach over a lake to the well-bunkered green ensures that the hole normally plays as the second most difficult on the course. The controversial fairway bunker adds angst to the tee shot, as does the traditional final-round pin position in the right section of the green where only a perfect approach can get the ball near the hole.

GREEN FEES AT GARY PLAYER CC:

- 18 holes - Residents R750; Non-residents R890
- Green fees include a halfway house meal and a strokesaver book.

- Sets of Clubs (R450 - TaylorMade)

- Handicap: none required, except for competitions

CLUBHOUSE:

- The state-of-the-art Club House contains a bar, a restaurant, a well-stocked pro shop and well appointed change rooms

GREEN FEES AT THE LOST CITY COURSE :

- For 18 holes - Residents R635; Non-residents R765
-fees exclude a halfway house meal and strokesaver book.

- 18-hole club hire (Cleveland) (R300)

- For 9 holes (after 15h00) - residents R345.00; Non-residents R345.00

- 18-hole club hire R150.00

NOTE- Handicap: none required, except for competitions

ACCOMMODATION:

Available at four world class hotels Hotels at Sun City - For central reservations: Tel: +27 (0)11 7800200

OTHER INFORMATION

- Address: Gary Player Country Club, Sun City, North West Province

PO Box 6, Sun City 03
- Telephone (+27 14) 557-1245/6
- Golf reservations: Fax (+27) 14 557 3426
- Website http://www.sun-international.com
- Email kpayet@sunint.co.za
- Visitors hours - Closed on Mondays. Golf Course Hours: 06h30 - 18h30

Summer tee-offs: 06h50 - 18h00

LOCATION

Sun City lies 150 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg.

Neville Leck



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