Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Golf Digest | Top 100 -

It’s a ques­tion con­stantly asked in the golf in­dus­try, and Serengeti Es­tates in Gaut­eng are tak­ing an in­no­va­tive step in that di­rec­tion by turn­ing their Whistling Thorn 9 into an 18-hole cham­pi­onship Par-3 course.

Serengeti is now un­der the own­er­ship of Irish en­tre­pre­neur David Na­gle, the Houghton de­vel­oper who bought the Eye of Africa es­tate, and is in­volved with o -course de­vel­op­ments at Royal Jo­han­nes­burg & Kens­ing­ton.

Na­gle and Serengeti CEO Mark Ren­wick are in­tro­duc­ing new fa­cil­i­ties that will im­prove the res­i­den­tial ex­pe­ri­ence at Serengeti.And the in­ten­tion is to up­grade the Jack Nick­laus Sig­na­ture Course. Nick­laus de­signed 27 holes on this large es­tate close to O R Tambo Air­port, but the sep­a­rate Whistling Thorn 9 has been un­der-utilised.The con­ver­sion to a Par-3 course will en­able Serengeti to keep the ex­ist­ing 9 greens, and add another 9 with a va­ri­ety of tees. It is be­ing de­signed by Dino Du Abreu and will be the rst of its kind lo­cally. Peter Matkovich’s 18-hole “ex­ec­u­tive course” at Sim­bithi Eco-Es­tate on the KZN North Coast has 13 par 3s.

Ren­wick said the vi­sion is to “cre­ate a mem­o­rable lay­out that al­lows a golfer the op­por­tu­nity to use the full range of clubs in his bag.”

The virtues of hav­ing a Par-3 course at Serengeti would be to ex­pose more fam­i­lies and kids to the game, and for timechal­lenged golfers to get done quickly. It’s a bet­ter in­tro­duc­tion to golf.Aus­tralian Adam Scott re­calls that grow­ing up on a Par-3 course was bene cial for him.

“When you’re 5 or 6 and the holes are 80 or 100 me­tres, you can ac­tu­ally play them,” says Scott.“It’s hard to get a young kid, even 10 or 11, to play a long par 4 – it just seems like an unattain­able goal to get it into a tiny hole at the end of that. I didn’t re­alise it at the time, but that’s prob­a­bly why I took to golf. Par-3 cour­ses and sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives are great. We’ve got to do some­thing di er­ent be­cause the tra­di­tional club model doesn’t work in to­day’s world. In­tro­duc­ing kids to golf is a big part of keep­ing the health of the game.”

Ja­son Day says golf ’s big­gest chal­lenge is that “it just takes too long; young fam­i­lies with lit­tle kids want to play for an hour, no more.When I was a kid, I was only al­lowed to play six holes at a time. It was great, be­cause I could only hold my at­ten­tion span for that long.”

SERENGETI PLANS ▶ Course de­signer Dino du Abreu (right) shows de­vel­oper David Na­gle (left) his draw­ings for Serengeti’s pro­posed Par 3 Course.

FAN­COURT CHANGE ▶ The en­trance ex­pe­ri­ence at the Fan­court club­house is now more invit­ing for guests and mem­bers.

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