THE NEW ENTRIES
There ere are seven this year, including three courses which have never previously been in the rankings. The Club at Steyn City debuts at No 25, and the quality of this big and bold Nicklaus Design layout is underlined by its sandwiching in the rankings between four Gauteng heavyweights, the CCJ Woodmead and Randpark Firethorn above it, and Kyalami and Royal J&K West below it.
Steyn City’s weakness compared to the other four is that it is a cart course, and while many golfers today love riding carts, golf essentially is a game where you are meant to walk. So every course should offer both options. You probably can walk Steyn City, but the effort of doing so might detract from the golf experience.
Steyn City is now one of 10 courses in our Top 100 which exceed 7 000 metres in length off the back tees. That is five more than there are in the United States Top 200! Steyn City is a layout where power off the tee is a decided advantage, as at Blair Atholl, not that far away as the crow flies.
If you are unable to drive the ball 240-250 metres on most holes you are in trouble because the approach shots become that more difficult. And this applies to the club tees, at 6 636 metres, not the back markers! You can go to the forward tees (5 973), but then that possibly becomes too short.
Nonetheless, Steyn City is an impressive course to both look at and play – the tee shot on No 1 across the Jukskei River is awesome – and the greens are superb and fair. It grows on you. As the thousands of trees mature, it will only look better.
Bosch Hoek debuts at No 89, and its presence will enrich the KZN Midlands as a golf destination, alongside Champagne Sports Resort, up in the rankings, Victoria CC and Gowrie Farm. Each venue provides on-site accommodation.
Durbanville is the new Western Cape entrant, at No 97. Once the ugly duckling of Cape Town courses, it has knocked out Rondebosch. Durbanville merits its inclusion on decisive management and committee work over the last decade which has seen it accomplish many goals to improve the quality and presentation of a 1960s Ken Elkin design. It’s a club where expenditure is focused on the golf course, not the clubhouse.
They built a driving range – which now attracts many young golfers – planted 750 trees, refurbished greenside bunkers, levelled tees, and Southern Turf Management gave them a talented greenkeeper in Wynand Ferreira (now at Els Club Copperleaf) who according to a committee member “transformed the course.”
Durbanville is a club which doesn’t sit still, plans ahead, and is a bustling community facility where social membership is thriving. Situated in the fast-growing Northern Suburbs, in terms of rounds it is one of the most popular courses to play in the Western Cape, and excellent conditioning plays a big role in that.
Returning to the Top 100 after an absence of eight years is the Limpopo estate course of Koro
Creek, at No 96. It is one of the region’s most attractive residential estates, and the numerous flaws of the interesting DDV Design bushveld layout have been largely corrected by GM David Riddle, a PGA pro who was involved in the design of Legend up the road. Improved conditioning also helped.
Immediate bounce-backs came from Centurion (at No 83),
Selborne (No 94) and Royal Port Alfred (No 98), which were omitted from the 2016 rankings. Port Alfred will be delighted with news that the Fish River Sun resort is to reopen, with the Mantis Collection securing a one-year caretaker contract. Fish River closed in November, and is no longer in the Top 100.