There is no doubt that Leopard Creek is a great course, with many memorable holes. However having paid full price (R4200 (£230), including having to stay at an expensive upmarket lodge for the chance to play the course) I was left VERY disappointed.
Despite booking months in advance, there was no forewarning that the greens would be going through its aeration and sanding stage. This left the greens slow and bumpy - and not up to scratch for a full price round. There were also a lot of repairs being made to the course with GUR signs sprinkled all over the place. The worst of which was the 16th hole which was going through a complete makeover and as a result, the tees and green were out of use. The solution was to cut a hole in the fairway, leading to a makeshift 80 yard hole that even the worst of public courses would dwarf. I was laughed at when asking for a discount after the round for having paid full price....
The front 9 is much less memorable than the back 9. The course only really starts getting great when you reach the 9th, looking downhill at the clubhouse and the Kruger National Park in the distance. 11,12 and 13 is my favourite stretch of holes I have played. The par 4 11th is a wonderful hole, playing your tee shot into a fairway in a valley and back uphill to the green with your approach. The par 3 12th is a fantastic short hole tumbling downhill with the Kruger Park in the background. I took 2 clubs less and still over-clubbed - leaving for a very tough uphill chip with the green sloping to the front edge. Then comes one of the best holes in world golf. The par 5 13th will forever be etched in my mind. Bordering the majestic Crocodile River and overlooking the fantastic Kruger Park, while waiting for my birdie putt, I spotted Crocs and Hippos in the River with Elephants, Zebra and Impala strolling in the distance. Needless to say, I missed my birdie putt - its tough to regain concentration standing in one of the most beautiful spots in the world. I could have stayed on the 13th green all day, but needed to refocus and head to the next tee box. The view from the 15th tee is equally as breathtaking, with the champs tee being the highest point on the course. Assuming you play the course in proper conditions, every shot you play from the 9th tee to the 18th green will blow your mind. The par 5 18th is a truly fantastic risk-reward finishing hole - the long hitters will be tempted to go for glory with their 2nd shot to the island green.
Welcoming you at the clubhouse will be an indulgent platter of biltong, droewors, ribs which wash down fantastically with a pint of cold beer.
At its best, this course deserves an albatross rating. However, I am afraid that it was very frustrating, having gone out my way to play the course and being treated the way I was after having the cheek to request a discount given the condition of the course. Lets hope that this was a once off and the course doesn't rest on its laurels as it truly is one of the most memorable experiences of my life, despite having been left with a bad taste.
Date: April 17, 2019