THE ELS CLUB COPPERLEAF – GAUT­ENG

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Must Play Courses -

This mod­ern Gaut­eng golf es­tate has flour­ished in re­cent years with the ex­pand­ing pop­u­la­tion to the west of the re­gion. Close to a ma­jor high­way, the N14, its res­i­dents commute to di­ver­gent ar­eas of Gaut­eng, par­tic­u­larly Cen­tu­rion and Sand­ton. It is the first and only Els Club in South Africa, and the es­tate was built on land once owned by Ernie Els’ grand­fa­ther, Ernie Ver­maak.

The mainly tree­less course con­veys a sense of open space in the coun­try grass­lands, and is regarded as one of the ma­jor championship lay­outs in Gaut­eng, hav­ing al­ready hosted two Euro­pean Tour events, the Tsh­wane Opens in 2013 and 2014 won by Dawie van der Walt and Ross Fisher re­spec­tively. At the time it was the long­est course to have been part of the Euro­pean Tour. It plays to a max­i­mum length of 7 680 me­tres. That in­cludes a 286-me­tre par 3, the third, which is fol­lowed by the 640-me­tre fourth hole!

Not­with­stand­ing the long holes, Els has de­signed a mem­bers course with wide fair­ways which golfers of all lev­els can en­joy, par­tic­u­larly those who drive the ball well. Chal­lenges lie in a wide va­ri­ety of tees, his strate­gi­cally placed bunkers, wa­ter haz­ards, and su­perbly mod­elled greens. It is ranked No 36 in the Golf Di­gest Top 100.

The Els Club has one of the premier prac­tice fa­cil­i­ties in South Africa, a vast ex­panse of land where golfers can work on their game in their own space. It is home to one of the coun­try’s lead­ing in­struc­tors, John Dick­son, who has a teach­ing academy and cus­tom-fit­ting cen­tre on site. Mem­o­rable hole: The par-4 sixth is thought of as the club’s sig­na­ture hole. The longer the tee shot, the less club you have for a de­mand­ing ap­proach shot an­gled across a wa­ter hazard to an el­e­vated green. Di­rec­tor of Golf: Jaun Geyser.

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