Steyn City - Gauteng - South Africa

Steyn City,
South Africa

  • +27 (0) 10 597 1030

  • Kevin Eden

  • Sean Quinn of Nicklaus Design

  • not known

One of several Jack Nicklaus projects located around Johannesburg, the 18-hole layout at Steyn City is the focal point of a huge parkland and real estate project that’s been developed by insurance mogul Douw Steyn.

Gary Waage of Golf Data built the course and he moved more than 430,000 cubic meters of soil when fashioning the layout. Additionally, he trucked in vast quantities of sandy loam soil to cap every fairway to a depth of 25 centimetres.

Situated on the site of an old quarry, the course is laid out on either side of the Jukskei River, which flows through the estate, with the par four 1st and par three 9th playing directly across its flowing waters.

Thousands of sapling trees were installed and both greens and tees have been seeded with bentgrass. Fairways and roughs were planted with a cool season fescue/ryegrass mix, which will help to guarantee good all-year round playing conditions.

The new irrigation system uses “grey water” from the Northern Works plant which flows into a pre-treatment plant before being stored in onsite lakes where it is then aerated to further improve the quality before being pumped onto the course.

Even though it’s located at altitude, the course is still a monster at 7,054 metres from the back tees. The layout boasts a testing 7th hole – the downhill tee shot flirts with a wandering stream – then the toughest par four is played at the 18th, with a split fairway as the target area for the drive before a pond then awaits errant approach shots.
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Description: Opened in April 2015 after a lengthy grow-in period, the golf course at Steyn City is a Nicklaus Design that’s the focal point of an enormous parkland and real estate development on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Rating: 8 out of 10 Reviews: 1
Alex Frolish

The Nicklaus design at Steyn City is a bold and breathtaking golf course, supremely conditioned and eminently memorable. I find that Nicklaus designs are rarely understated and this is another course that emboldens that view. The 1st tee shot sets the scene beautifully for what is to follow. The opening par 4 is a real beauty, played from a raised tee by the chateaux like clubhouse across a wide and fast flowing river to an angled fairway. Overlooked also by course owner Douw Steyn’s simply incredible mansion (including fully functioning aqueduct waterfall), it is one of those first tee moments that you will want to take an extra bit of time on, to fully let it sink in.

Like most courses in Johannesburg, this layout measures a considerable distance from the back tees due to the altitude, and at around 7800 yards from those tees, and with a course/slope rating of 76.3/153, there are fewer tougher tests of golf I can recall playing anywhere. The difficulty is driven by a combination of elevation changes, punitive hazard placement and extremely quick, large and sloping greens. Hitting greens in regulation, while welcome, is no guarantee of a par and you will need to find the right sections of the greens relative to the flag to have any real chance of getting down in 2 putts.

The opening run is a memorable one, with the aforementioned 1st getting the heart pumping early before the signature 2nd hole, which is a par 4 to strike fear into the amateur golfer. Water dominates the landscape with a lake encompassing the entire right side of the hole and effectively turning the green into an island. This is a hole as much about strategy as it is about execution and many will leave this hole rueing errors attributed to either or both of those components.

The front nine finishes with a quite breathtaking triple salvo, started by the severely downhill drop shot par 4 7th. It measures just over 400 yards, but the elevation change means that it plays closer to 300 yards. A winding rocky creek dissects the hole and threatens menacingly down the left, while centre and right sided bunkering will catch any shots played lacking conviction. The sweeping 8th is a test of all your golfing attributes, with the green site starring as one of the most menacing I have played anywhere. The par 4 is over 500 yards but the margins for error on your approach into this green are minute, and a miss pretty much anywhere will leave extreme jeopardy for your next shot, meaning bogey will often be a creditable score. The par 3 9th again features water and is played back towards the clubhouse, which frames the hole beautifully. I nearly had a hole in one here and if it had spun back another foot or so, it would have been some hole to record one on!

The back nine is ever so slightly shorter but no less testing, with engaging hole following engaging hole. The 11th is a picturesque short 4 played over water and watched over by a Sydney Harbour-esque feature bridge. The par 3 14th is a strong hole with a deceptively large and sloping green, the 16th is a memorable par 5 with a green site that is partially blind from the fairway and defended by a vicious run off area short and left, but possibly the biggest test of all lies ahead at the par 4 18th.

This split fairway reminds me of the 7th hole on the Marquess course at Woburn in England. Measuring the best part of 520 yards from the back tee with a large lake dominating last 200 yards of the hole, the tee shot needs to be hit to one of the two fingers of fairway divided by a deep depression filled with lush grass and sand. The left route may be slightly shorter but leaves an approach that has to cover the water hazard in its entirety, while a route via the right side will leave a slightly longer approach from a better angle. This is an 18th hole befitting of a championship golf course and one that will either make or break your scorecard.

Steyn City wows from beginning to end and I can’t speak highly enough of the experience here as a visitor. This is one of the finest Nicklaus designs I have played and it has entered my list of courses I want to make it back to again some day. Supreme conditioning mixed with bold design and a wonderful piece of land mean this will be a days golf that you won’t forget in a hurry.

June 20, 2022
8 / 10
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