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” 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!
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