Tagged as the No 1 course in South Africa, my expectations were high. I had the bene t of playing the course twice at di erent times of the day so I got to experience varying conditions.The opening eight holes are ‘average’ to say the least. I kept waiting for a hole to inspire me, but the course continued to o er straightforward holes that didn’t stimulate the gol ng juices. If it wasn’t for the wonderful par-3 fth hole over water, the rst eight holes at Leopard Creek only piled up the questions I was asking.
However, standing on the ninth tee looking down towards the clubhouse began to o er some hope.The back nine at Leopard Creek has fabulous variety, challenge, risk, reward and even a downhill Redan par 3 (No 12) with Kruger National Park as the jaw-dropping backdrop.
The best hole on the property is the par-5 13th. I was impressed with every shot on this hole.The drive plays out to a diagonal plateau with water the whole way down the left-hand side until the green.The fairway narrows on the second shot leaving a daunting 80-100-metre pitch for the third shot to a green perched menacingly above the Crocodile River.The magni cence of Kruger National Park marries beautifully with this iconic hole.
I also appreciated the “all or none” feeling you have standing on the par-3 16th which asks for a 170-metre shot over water. Most photographs at Leopard Creek are of the glorious downhill par-5 18th which brings you back to that treacherous island green.The tension in your body really rises as you reach into your bag to pull a club.
Of the 22 top courses I’ve played in South Africa, I’d rank this course closer to #7 than #1.The di erence in quality between the two nines is remarkable, and an in uential factor when considering the overall rating.
The par-3 fi
h hole at Leopard Creek (to the right of the water hazard).