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

F an­court Mon­tagu is to close for an up­grade from April 16, be­fore re­open­ing around Septem­ber 20 sub­ject to playa­bil­ity. Ryan Reid, Fan­court di­rec­tor of sport and recre­ation, con rmed that the Mon­tagu greens will be resur­faced dur­ing the win­ter.The re­sort has put on trial ve va­ri­etals of bent grass, and a de­ci­sion on which to use will be made later in March.

“We are also plan­ning de­sign changes with in­put from Gary Player while the course is closed,” said Reid. Player de­signed the orig­i­nal Mon­tagu in 1992, only for Scot­tish de­signer David McLay Kidd to ex­ten­sively mod­ernise the lay­out in 2004.

The old Mon­tagu was ranked No 1 by Golf Digest in 2001.While it was then a course which chal­lenged the scratch golfer from the back tees, it was also en­joyed by the club golfer. It was wel­com­ing o the club tees, in no way in­tim­i­dat­ing.

How­ever, it was be­com­ing out­dated as club tech­nol­ogy rock­eted for­ward, and Kidd’s re­mit was to pro­tect the course’s cham­pi­onship sta­tus. It was length­ened by 430 me­tres – to­day it plays to a daunt­ing 6 714 me­tres from the pro tees, and the Mon­tagu has since be­come al­most as de­mand­ing to play as the Links. In fact, Fan­court res­i­dent and se­nior tour pro John Bland ad­mits that he per­son­ally nds the Links eas­ier for his style of play than the Mon­tagu, where the an­gled, of­ten el­e­vated, and well-bunkered greens make for test­ing ap­proach shots.The Mon­tagu has a ‘tar­get golf ’ aura about it that doesn’t al­to­gether suit the av­er­age re­sort hol­i­day­maker.

Reid says the pro­posed changes to the Mon­tagu will make it vis­ually more in­tim­i­dat­ing, with water fea­tures prom­i­nent. But other changes will im­prove playa­bil­ity for the av­er­age golfer, and there­fore cre­ate a more en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence.The bunker­ing on the front nine will be re­duced, and the fair­way land­ing ar­eas in­creased in size.There will be fewer forced car­ries.

While most of these changes will be on the front nine, Reid says that two par 4s on the back nine, 11 and 16, will be im­proved, to “give them their own vis­ual iden­tity.”

A ma­jor project lined up for the Mon­tagu, al­though un­likely to hap­pen un­til 2020, is open­ing up the Mod­der River which runs from the fth tee box through to the ninth green.This would need en­vi­ron­men­tal per­mis­sion.

Reid, for­merly the op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor at Serengeti, has im­ple­mented a num­ber of changes to the Mon­tagu and Outeni­qua cour­ses in the past year, what he refers to as the rst phase. Reid felt they should re­turn to the tra­di­tional look and feel of park­land cour­ses.Water fea­tures were opened and cleaned out to be­come more vis­i­ble, and Cape Coun­try ower beds added.There is im­proved fair­way de ni­tion. Bushes close to the fair­ways where balls could be lost were re­moved.Three “quar­ter houses” have been built as rest room fa­cil­i­ties for the two cour­ses.

The Outeni­qua lay­out has bene tted most from the changes. It has al­ways been pop­u­lar with guests, and now presents it­self as the course that ap­peals the most to a gen­eral range of hand­i­caps. Sub­tle changes have been made to the 18th green. By low­er­ing the sur­round­ing land­scape, it has been moved closer to the re­sort club­house, mak­ing the green more vis­i­ble on ar­rival.

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