Jack Nicklaus, who is not new to the South African design landscape, having built numerous courses across the country, designed Serengeti golf course.
It was the first course in Gauteng to add 27 holes to its armoury, comprising the Masai Mara course and the challenging Whistling Thorn nine-hole addition. He incorporated a number of impressive trendsetting features, of which the use of a unique cool-season grass, which maintains its lushness throughout the year, is the most noteworthy.
Another is the design and creation of numerous tee options. The course can be stretched to Championship length, which enabled it to host the SA Open in 2011 and 2012. At the same time, the club tees focus on offering a fair and enjoyable round to the club golfer.
Another aspect which will leave the visitor with fond memories is the distinctive jagged bunkering throughout the course, amid undulating fairways and greens with subtle contours.
The opening par-four first hole eases you into the course. The left fairway bunker is a good line to take from the tee, which will leave a short approach to the green protected by only one small bunker front left.
Don’t let Jack trick you into thinking the second hole is easy. At only 311m it may be short but finding one of the many bunkers could wreck your chances of par. The undulating green is reachable from the tee although the recommended play is a hybrid off the tee.
The first long hole is a gentle, good-length 507m par five. For the longer hitters a birdie is a possibility. A draw (for right-handers) is favoured from the tee. Make sure you choose the correct line for your length. From the fairway, laying up is always a good option but keep the fairway bunker in mind. The green can be gained in two, but water left will test how well grooved your swing is.
Next up is the par-four fourth with a massive waste bunker leading up to the green along the left flank. Some links-like bunkers in the middle of the fairway await any drive that is not crunched. Although a short approach can be expected, take note of where you leave your ball on this nasty green.
The first short of the day should be studied. A short-iron should suffice as the hole is only 150m. Missing the green comes with an option of playing out a bunker right or falling prey to the large undulating collection area left. Your call!
Accuracy off the tee of the sixth is vital in order to avoid the water right on this well-earned stroke-six rating. Make sure of your line and when it doubt, keep to the left side of the fairway. The short hitters need to bear in mind the water crosses the fairway near the green. Speaking of which, prepare for some interesting putts when you reach it.
The left-to-right sloping fairway of the seventh winds its way in between three fairway bunkers en route to the green. If you are uncertain of your approach, rather favour the easier right side. Playing the par-five eighth for the first time is a memorable occasion, regardless of the result. Golf director and PGA professional Pierre van Vuuren explains how to deconstruct this stunning hole in the Pro Tip insert.
A lengthy par three is the final hole of the front nine. A creek runs from the tee past the left side of the hole, so try to leave the ball right and possibly short of the bunker at the back of the green.
A short well-bunkered par four starts the back nine. At only 342m a three-wood is advisable to find the fairway and avoid the massive waste bunker on the left. The narrow green, protected by two sandtraps, is not an easy target, but find it and par is a sure thing.
The stroke rating of 17 on the next hole, a par five, should not mislead you. At 483m, with a myriad bunkers, this hole can hurt the scorecard. The percentage play is to lay up for two and find the heart of the green for three.
The first short hole of the back nine is a design masterpiece. A massive waste-bunker right catches the eye, but don’t forget the large greenside bunker left. At 175m, the green can prove elusive.
A huge waste-bunker down the right side, the fairway running obliquely to the tee box and the length combine to make the par-four 13th the hardest hole at Serengeti. A further dangerous element is the small bunker on the left of the fairway in the landing zone, making the fairway appear very tight. It is actually a lot wider than meets the eye. A good drive will leave a mid-iron shot to a raised green. Par feels like a birdie on this hole.
At 363m the 14th is a not a long par four. The water left and a small green are what earn it the stroke-three ranking. Finding the fairway is crucial, which means the driver is best left in the bag. Bunkers left and right of the green make the target that much smaller. Par here is impressive.
A par three over water, which should prove no problem to clear, is light relief before you tackle the monstrous par-five 16th. Having a long carry over water this 531m hole can be reached in two by only the longest of hitters. Again the prudent play is to lay up and avoid one of the many bunkers.
The 17th is a classic Nicklaus risk-and-reward hole. It is short in distance, just 304m, so if a driver is hit accurately, a birdie is on the cards. The closer you get to the hole a fairway bunker squeezes the fairway.
The final hole is a reminder from Mr Nicklaus not to forget this great layout. It is on the long end of that scale, at 403m, and a demanding hole with its right-to-left sloping fairway. With the water on the left, the approach to green is preferable from the right. The middle of the green is never a bad option and one Jack most likely had it mind for your club golfer.
AWAY FROM THE FAIRWAYS
Off the course the Serengeti estate has a numerous facilities making it a favourite for golfers and businessmen alike. Other than the vast clubhouse, which is a conduit between the two courses, two restaurants and several bar areas as well as conference and banqueting rooms for business groups are available. A well-stocked pro shop, golf academy with state-of-the-art facilities and a 400m driving range complete a perfect golfing facility. Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate is completely self-contained and secure, with everything inside its perimeter that discerning owners and their families desire.
Members: 18 holes R250
9 holes R160
Member guests: 18 holes R405
9 holes R265
Affiliated visitors: 18 holes R635
9 holes R465
Unaffiliated visitors: 18 holes R835
9 holes R635
Scholars/students 18 holes R160
9 holes R95