LEOP­ARD CREEK

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

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).

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