A CITY CELEBRATION
THE CLUB AT STEYN CITY IS ABOUT FUN AND ENJOYMENT ON A LAVISHLY CREATED GOLF COURSE.
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.