DUR­BAN COUN­TRY CLUB

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - The Golf Life -

GOLF Mag­a­zine pub­lished its rstTop 100 cour­ses in the World list in 1985. Dur­ban CC is one of the elite clubs that have been on the list since the be­gin­ning. The iconic land­scape of the un­du­lat­ing Dur­ban to­pog­ra­phy is the cat­a­lyst for such lofty global praise.As you walk o the rst tee the land takes over and you en­ter the gaunt­let of humps and bumps along the open­ing fair­way. Much di­a­logue sur­rounds the open­ing ve holes, and the course de­serves ev­ery ounce of the credit it re­ceives from gol ng crit­ics around the world.

Hav­ing spent four days in Kruger Na­tional Park, the mem­o­ries of ‘Ele­phant Burial Grounds’ re­turned to my head as I walked the un­du­lat­ing open­ing stretch at this old mas­ter­piece. Nat­u­rally raised land­forms and beau­ti­fully ex­posed mounds echo e or­t­lessly through this gol ng am­phithe­atre. Not only is the course stun­ning, but it is a erce test wor­thy of the na­tional open.

One is eas­ily dis­tracted stand­ing on the el­e­vated tee boxes; how­ever, the treach­ery that waits be­low shows lit­tle mercy if you

irt with its sharp teeth.The par-3 sec­ond is among the nest short holes in the world, fol­lowed by the world fa­mous third which has ce­mented its place on the pedestal of epic par 5s. It’s the poster-child im­age of DCC, and for good rea­son.

The par-3 fourth is framed by ad­ja­cent mounds and de­mands a high de­gree of skill to hit a small tar­get. De­pend­ing on wind

tough­est par 4 on the course, if not South Africa, with its tight tee shot, lurk­ing haz­ards and lengthy dis­tance.

It’s not un­com­mon on cer­tain holes to hit the fair­way with your tee shot and have a blind ap­proach due to the magni cent mounds dom­i­nat­ing the fair­ways.The land be­gins to set­tle as you move away from the club­house, but the qual­ity con­tin­ues. I con dently sug­gest that the par-5 eighth is su­pe­rior to the third, which only fu­els the

re of healthy gol ng de­bate and fur­ther pro­motes the qual­ity of golf away from the colo­nial club­house.

I was en­am­oured with the par-4 11th, a long dog-leg right that oozes di culty. How could such a beau­ti­ful course never let up? That’s the key to suc­cess. As an Ir­ish­man, I had a wry smile when I heard the story of how the iconic par-3 12th got its re­gal name – ‘The Prince of Wales’ – fol­low­ing an un­for­tu­nate se­ries of events many decades ago on this dev­il­ishly perched green.The treach­ery of this short hole quickly re­moves the feel­ing of roy­alty!

When you look at old pho­to­graphs from the 1930s and 1940s, you re­alise how cer­tain holes on the back nine were di er­ent from how they are pre­sented to­day. Bunkers have been re­moved and re­shaped, trees have been planted and fair­ways re­aligned. The griz­zled old ar­chi­tec­ture critic in­side me be­gan to pon­der the de­ci­sions over time that have im­pacted such his­tory. Holes like 13 and 14 have changed from the orig­i­nal de­sign when you com­pare them to old pho­tos, and the dis­ap­point­ing par-3 15th just doesn’t t well with any other hole.

With a de­ter­mined e ort un­der­way to clear away unattrac­tive, un­nat­u­ral and un­nec­es­sary trees, scrub and bushes, the abil­ity to ex­pose orig­i­nal mound­ing and re­turn the course (within rea­son) to how it looked and played in the 1930s can only do Dur­ban CC a world of good.The un­tapped po­ten­tial is wait­ing for a glo­ri­ous re­nais­sance.

The nish­ing stretch re­quires you to fas­ten your seat­belt as the tur­bu­lent to­pog­ra­phy is back in all its glory.The 17th and 18th are gol ng leg­ends in their own right with won­der­ful changes in el­e­va­tion. Hugely mov­ing land­forms gov­ern th­ese fab­u­lously rol­lick­ing fair­ways.

Club se­lec­tion on 18 is al­most pot luck as the fate of your golf ball is mostly dic­tated by the bounce on this ercely mounded fair­way.With just 250 me­tres be­tween you and a well-de­served drink, the 19th hole has never seemed so far away! For keen golfers around the world, a round at DCC is an ex­pe­ri­ence not to be missed.You’ll be met by the coun­try’s warm­est hos­pi­tal­ity and world class ser­vice.

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