The Gary Player Country Club is perhaps South Africa’s most famous course thanks to the annual Nedbank “Million Dollar Golf Challenge” which has been hosted here since 1981. Naturally the “Black Knight” (with a little help from Ron Kirby) designed the course and it’s one of the longest courses in the country, stretching out beyond 7,000 metres from the tips.
The Sun City Resort is a huge Las Vegas-styled entertainment complex and should you find yourself drawn to the glamour and the glitz, you’ll have two great courses to choose from – Lost City and Gary Player. Undoubtedly the hard-as-nails Gary Player course is the best.
Topographically the land is relatively flat but don’t let that lull you into thinking that this is a boring course. It is not. Routed through the bush, past lakes and strategically placed bunkers this is a serious test for any golfer. The greens here at Gary Player Country Club are simply stunning. Some are shaped like kidneys and others shaped like clover but all the greens are well protected by cunning bunkers, water hazards, swales or mounds. Once you reach the slick putting surfaces you’ll need your finest touch to avoid three putting, or worse!
The par fives at the Gary Player Country Club, which opened for play in 1979, are especially exciting, but the 9th will stick in the memory for eternity. This is a genuine three-shot-hole for most golfers but if you are a long hitter you might be tempted to go for the island green in two. Take a deep breath, hold your nerve and swing smoothly. What a cracker!
Sun City has a chequered history. Originally it became known as a glorified brothel for the well to do white men from Johannesburg, but eventually it evolved into a very succesful casino and resort destination.
The Gary Player course at Sun City was designed by one of the great golfers of all time- 9 time major winner- South African Gary Player.
The course opened in 1979, and has become famous around the globe as the site of the Million Dollar Challenge, an exclusive invitational event (now the Nedbank Challenge).
We set off with our African caddies on a warm sunny day- perfect for golf! My immediate impressions were of a course with kikuyu fairways (never my favourite), tight landing areas, at times heavily bunkered fairways, and smallish greens.
The greens are normally devilishly quick for the tournament, but after recent coring work they played slow but true for our group.
On some holes it was a very long way back to the championship tee where players would face significant carries to the landing areas.
With bunkering often on both sides of the tree lined fairways, it was easy to appreciate what a stringent test of championship golf it was!
No wonder it is known to be the toughest on the continent, and known as 'the monster'.
At 7162 metres off the back pegs, that might be considered a fair description... We found missing fairways was not an option as the prickly acacia trees made recovery doubtful.
The course comes up well on TV with the money holes- 9, 17 & 18 all featuring spectacular water carry approaches... I also liked the par 3 holes. They were all strong, attractive holes with water a common theme. But the aforementioned money holes do grab your attention!
Sun City is a unique place to play golf, and as you play through the valley you cannot fail to appreciate where you are. The playful baboons on course, the grazing impala, and the unmistakeably harsh landscape on the surrounding hills is a constant reminder. We even saw a wild elephant in the park next door!
Perhaps, I am being a bit picky, but I felt that the bread and butter holes had a certain sameness to them in look and strategy. You were asked to hit it straight! Period. And off rear tees that would be long and straight..
The Gary Player Course at Sun City is a challenging championship course in a unique setting, and is a key stopover in any South African golf trips.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
Probably it is one of the best golf courses in South Africa and TOP 100 in the World. I was played in the middle of January and was very hot here, but condition of course was perfect, especially greens. They was fast and unpredictable! Fairways also was in really good condition like carpet. I had very nice experience playing with caddie. As greens was unpredictable I would did one or more putts in each greens! They scanning greens like machine. :) Also they found all my balls in the rough...definitely I would lost few without problem.
Golf field rating is always a subject with a lot of subjectivity, depending on various criteria. I always rating by the following criteria: course complexity or challenging, fields condition (especially greens & fairways), service (only what you can get: buggie, club rent, condition of clubs, the amount of choice and etc. except staff and other subjective things that depends on your or staff mood), surrounding views or pleasure to the eyes and definitely value for the price. All criteries will be rating from 1 to 5 stars. Concerning Gary Player my opinion is follow:
1. Challenging - 4*+ (trust me it was!)
2. Condition - 5*
3. Service - 4* (comment: you can't use buggie and must take caddy if don't want care clubs in +35 degree, but caddy service was great)
4. Surroundings - 5* (beautiful views around with dears and birds in fields)
5. Value for the price - 5*+ (one of the best I tied ever, less than twice you must pay in other top quality courses).
I think Gary Player must be in World TOP 100! Also it is one of top destination for each golfer.
Actually greens is the biggest challenge here for my opinion and distance at all. Greens are fast, unpredictable and with invisable slopes. Concerning surrounding maybe next one in Sun City was more impresive (Lost city golf course), but I was in middle of the summer...and was hiding from sun more than enjoyed the views :)
I will be back soon!
This is a great golf course in a pretty good inland setting. The main resort lake comes in to play on a couple of holes and the surrounding hills frame the course in a uniquely South African setting. The stands were going up ahead of the Million Dollar Challenge so the course conditioning was excellent. Not an easy course from the second back tees, but golf isn't meant to be easy! Great value for world class golf, but don't just play golf if at Sun City, get out into nearby Pilanesberg and enjoy more of South Africa's natural beauty.
Great caddies. Great challenge. Awesome greens. A must play ..
Anyway back to the course; due to coverage from the Nedbank and playing it on Tiger Woods 09, it was one i felt i knew well when standing on the 1st tee. The 1st itself is a kind opening hole which is handy when you have only just become acquainted with your hired driver, the course wakes up with a solid par 5 2nd. Once you have settled down, the finish to the front 9 really starts to ask tough questions, with 8 and 9 being the devilish kind of fun which i enjoy from a course. The 9th is both strategic and stunning in equal measure with its island green, and a hole that would easily make my all time 18.
After a cracking burger from the hut its off to the 10th tee, for what in my opinion, is the toughest of the par 5's. It may be short, but this narrow driving hole ends with the smallest green on the course and is sure to trip up players. I found the 11th the most intimidating driving hole with nothing short, and the danger of flying the fairway playing on my mind Also i had a group of spectators watching in the form of a clan of meerkats; which bought its own pressure. The back 9 continues with a couple of tough holes before coming to a one of the best finishing stretches i've played. Holes 15-18 are a great mix, leading up to and running along the lake, with the 18th testing your yardage off the tee before what is probably the hardest 2nd shot on the course.
As an experience it certainly did not let me down; it was almost what i wished for, although the greens had been hollow tined (which is understandable at this time of year) robbing them of speed. They ran at a medium pace, however i did manage to sink a couple of beauties so no excuse can be derived from them - it just would have just been nice to play them at full strength. The stands were going up for the forth coming Nedbank and these helped to frame and provide some theater, especially on 18. Of the mainland European course's i have played i would compare it to Sotogrande. Its a must play if you have the chance, and if this really is the 3rd best course in S.A then standards must be high and it gives me a reason to return to this fabulous country and experience more golf. One last thing, do take the option of using a caddy. They are cheap, great fun and they know the greens, which i believe to be the true defense of this course, like the back of their hands