Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents 12/ 14 - BY STU­ART McLEAN

The Club at Steyn City is about fun and en­joy­ment on a lav­ish course.

Ido get a sense of trep­i­da­tion when I step on to the first tee of a spank­ing new mod­ern course. Some of to­day’s course de­sign­ers de­light in build­ing dif­fi­cult and unin­spir­ing lay­outs which can suck all the joy and en­joy­ment out of the game. So I was pleas­antly sur­prised when I wasn’t beaten up by The Club at Steyn City, but had my­self a fun ex­pe­ri­ence on the first en­tirely new es­tate course to of­fi­cially launch it­self in South Africa since the Eye of Africa in 2010.

That un­usu­ally long in­ter­val is an in­di­ca­tion of just how tough it has been for the golf course con­struc­tion in­dus­try to find qual­ity projects in this coun­try.

Mind you, Steyn City has been a sub­stan­tial project for Golf Data, who have had a large team on site for nearly six years pre­par­ing a Nick­laus De­sign course which is the fo­cal point of the multi­bil­lion-rand Steyn City de­vel­op­ment near Four­ways in Gaut­eng. Gone are the days when Golf Data were rush­ing to com­plete one project so they could move on to the next one, such was the de­mand for their ser­vices. Tasked with pro­duc­ing a world-class golf­ing showcase for in­surance mag­nate Douw Steyn, and given the bud­get and time the project de­served, their de­sign team have ex­celled them­selves here, and will have made Jack Nick­laus him­self proud.

I like to judge a golf course on the po­si­tion­ing and pre­sen­ta­tion of the first tee, and the im­pact of the first hole on the senses. Steyn City couldn’t do more to get you pumped up in ex­pec­ta­tion in this re­spect. This 397-me­tre par 4 is pos­si­bly the best look­ing open­ing hole I’ve seen on

a new course in South Africa in the last 25 years.

One of the most im­pres­sive as­pects of The Club at Steyn City is the way the el­e­gant club­house blends so per­fectly into the golf­ing land­scape around it. A spa­cious deck flows beau­ti­fully around the build­ings and opens up the golf­ing vis­tas the fur­ther you ven­ture away from the en­trance. You feel like a mil­lion­aire just be­ing there. The first tee is right in front of you, tee­ter­ing high above the Jukskei River which flows through the prop­erty. The ninth and 18th greens are also placed neatly in the frame.

The club­house’s in­no­va­tive ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures have al­ready won it an award in Europe for its ar­chi­tect Wes­sel van Dyk. It is a re­mark­ably un­ob­tru­sive look­ing build­ing how­ever you view it. A roof gar­den and bold use of glass al­lows it to vir­tu­ally dis­ap­pear at times. I loved the fact that you park inside the build­ing too.

The op­u­lence of the club­house and its fa­cil­i­ties is matched on the 18 holes by a dis­tinc­tive level of con­di­tion­ing that il­lus­trates the prior- ity given to the course in the over­all im­age of the es­tate. It does have star billing, and it will be an ex­clu­sive pre­serve for mem­bers and their guests: Per­haps not as pri­vate as Blair Atholl, which is not too dis­tant, but def­i­nitely up­mar­ket.

Our me­dia day started with a short he­li­copter flip over the golf course, to ori­en­tate our­selves, and the green cool sea­son grass fair­ways stood out promi­nently in a dry land­scape still await­ing the first sum­mer rains. The course, sit­u­ated on the site of an old quarry, cov­ers some steeply un­du­lat­ing ter­rain, sim­i­lar to that of neigh­bour­ing Dain­fern, which adds to the character of the holes. One par 4, the sev­enth, lit­er­ally cas­cades down the side of a hill, a par­tic­u­larly fun hole to play. On the down­side, though, were two par 5s where you were driv­ing up­hill into slopes.

As with vir­tu­ally all mod­ern lay­outs, this is a cart course, and you don’t want to be walk­ing it, although Steyn City res­i­dents will be able to stroll about on des­ig­nated path­ways, all part of the de­vel­op­ment’s eco-friendly vi­sion.

Wide fair­ways make for a player-friendly course, yet at the same time bet­ter play­ers must still think of po­si­tion­ing their tee shots for eas­ier ac­cess to well-guarded greens. Wa­ter has to be car­ried on some ap­proaches, no­tably at the su­perb long par-4 18th, one of the fea­ture holes. Yet the softly un­du­lat­ing greens leave you with a lot of straight­for­ward par or birdie putts.

If there is a crit­i­cism I have of the course, it con­cerns the over­all dis­tances. Off the cham­pi­onship tees, The Club at Steyn City is 7 054 me­tres, the men’s club tees are 6 636, and se­nior tees are 5 973. So if you’re not a se­nior, or some­one who can smack a long drive, off the club tees you’ll spend all day hit­ting hy­brids into half the holes.

Thou­sands of trees have been planted be­tween holes, and as they ma­ture the course will ben­e­fit aes­thet­i­cally.

The Steyn City life­style es­tate is due to of­fi­cially launch at the end of March. Un­til then the golf course is only open to in­vited guests.


The par- 4 eighth hole, with the club­house build­ings blend­ing

into the hill­side.

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