• Short and Sweet: 18 holes with a difference

    St Francis Links
    St Francis Links

    South Africa’s best golf courses have been scouted to create the ultimate ‘adapted’ par-three golf course – a normal hole transformed for this exercise into a par three.

    1. St Francis Links (5th hole, 85m)

    The 5th is always a rewarding hole and now it could pay off with the chance for a hole-in-one should you execute your intended shot with precision. A wedge to a pin tucked just over the bunkers will require all your short-game skills, especially when playing in front of the large travelling groups who play the hole as part of our ‘Ultimate Par Three’ offering. Missing to the left will require your best efforts to save par, as will a shot that leaks out to the right. – Jeff Clause

    2. Kyalami Country Club (4th hole, 120m)

    There is a bail-out to the left of this newpar three, but that would require you to play a low spinner due to the tree protection of the green. There’s more danger lurking with water in front and snaking around the right, ready to gobble up any shot that tails away in its direction. Safety first isn’t a bad play here, so grab an extra club and find the back of the green and lag your putt to the hole. Going for the hole brings the water into play, as does any strike ‘thin’. – Kyle Puttick

    3. Cotswold Downs Golf Course (18th Hole, 145m)

    A tee shot to an elevated green is required over a water hazard. A wetland guards the entire left side of the hole and will gather any stray ball – with the penalty of a compulsory drop due to the hazard being environmentally protected. Be sure not to stray too far right; a treacherously deep silica-filled bunker awaits there, while a pot bunker at the back is dead man’s land. A shot to the heart of the green or short right will give players a solid chance at par. – Sheldon Stroebel

    4. Pearl Valley Golf Course (4th Hole, 150m)

    Strategy is important on this hole, which ordinarily would be a three-shotter traversing the water twice before arriving at the green. Now, just one hazard lies in front of you and a large green makes the shot look easier than you think. The wind usually blows your ball away to the right, so tucking the pin into the left of the green will make this a real challenge to escape with a par. – Damian Wrigley

    5. Highland Gate Golf Club (11th Hole, 80m)

    Usually on this par five, 80m in would leave you playing steeply downhill with a natural three-metre creek running in front of the green. The ‘new’ tee box will be played from the original layup area on a downhill lie to a narrow green. The golfer is faced with an extremely challenging shot where ball striking and distance control is paramount to success. The green slopes from left to right and ensuring your ball lies below the hole will help make the putt that much easier. From above the hole the putt is extremely fast and will test all your putting skills. – Paul Marks

    6. Randpark (Firethorn) Golf Club (7th Hole, 125m)

    An inviting, yet deceivingly large target to hit with a wedge or 9-iron. The green offers many pin options, all presenting their own set of traps. A front-right position, a typical championship placing, is protected by a large, deep bunker for the off-centre strike. The back position, on a very small, yet flat tier, demands an accurate tee shot. There’s a bunker waiting on the left and the river waiting on the right, thick rough behind and a slope pushing the ball further away for that wedge shot pitching a metre short of the intended landing spot. Unless your putting is red-hot, be grateful to walk off with a par. Play for the heart of the green and do not be too aggressive on your putt. – Mellett Hendrikse

    7. Stellenbosch Golf Club (12th Hole, 88m)

    With the tee box for this ‘little’ par three on the wall of the irrigation dam, there is no prettier place to start the new gem than to be surrounded by water. Slightly elevated from the tee and looking down at the two-tier green, this hole makes you feel like you could be hitting a hole-in-one on your next shot. There is more than enough protection, though, with water guarding the front, a long bunker right and a swale short of that. The flag is placed just over the water, so hit it long and try spin it back down the dancefloor. Surrounded by mountains, vineyards and water, can there be a more beautiful, challenging, but still makeable par three? – Louis Destroo

    8. Pinnacle Point Golf Club (8th Hole, 150m)

    Playing long, the player is required to hit an accurate iron shot, which plays shorter when you allow for the gradient, across sheer cliffs on to a postage-stamp sized green, surrounded by numerous pot bunkers. The beach and Indian Ocean below awaits any errant strike short or right. The contoured green slopes from back to front, so avoid the downhill chip back on to the surface at all costs. The dramatic scene looking down from the tee to the green, perched on top of a cliff, is awe-inspiring. In winter, the Southern Right whales are regularly seen below this green, as are bogeys and doubles. – Nic Grundtvig

    9. Humewood Golf Club (17th Hole, 130m)

    Designed with prevailing cross-winds in mind, don’t let the length fool you because this hole poses a challenge. The bunkers situated front left and back right create a club-selection nightmare when the strong south-westerly blows. Select one club too little or one too much and you’ll be testing your sand skills. A burn that runs across the front of the hole is not in play, except for the doubtful swing. – Brendon Timm

    10. Steenberg Golf Club (11th Hole, 125m)

    The backdrop – from Devil’s Peak to the Constantiaberg Mountains – is the perfect setting for this adapted par three. The water is in play from the start, with a number of pin placements available to challenge the shot-making skills of a wide range of players. When the flag is back left, you will be facing a shot that demands precision due to the carry straight over the hazard and into a tight landing area. The swale behind the flag will punish any shot hit long, while the bailout to the right is guarded by two bunkers. Anything from birdie to a double-bogey is in play, so keep your head down, even if the view is enticing. – PJ Pywell

    11. Simola Golf Course (4th Hole, 110m)

    Looks can be deceiving and that’s especially true here, on what is usually the stroke five. Now, with just a wedge in hand, you must navigate the water that comes into play front and to the right of the pin. The shot is made that much harder with the flag placed on the front right to entice the player to go for it. It would be more prudent to aim for the centre and take your three – and move on to enjoy the views of the Knysna Heads in the background. – Jamie Krietzmann

    12. Ebotse Links (17th Hole, 140m)

    An adapted par three for this exercise – but it is going to become reality later in the year as we do some renovations on the infrastructure on this hole. Regardless of the change from demanding par four to challenging par three, it will remain the stroke two. The flag is well protected with bunkers in front and the environmental hazard behind it. Placing the pin behind the bunkers will make it one of the most difficult approaches on the course, with the wind blowing from right to left and trees a factor to deal with on the tee box, and that’s before negotiating the small landing area. – Dean Kupferman

    13. Zimbali Country Club (2nd Hole, 111m)

    The dam that divides the 2nd and the 8th holes is the scene for what will be an intimidating short hole. While the hole will play short, the carry to the green and then dealing with the slope will separate the skilled from those who need some more work on their game. Placing the pin just on and to the left will make the putting surface look even smaller, but no less spectacular. The scenery at Zimbali is worth the pause and before you take your swing, take a step back to make sure you have the right club. Also, take in the picturesque nature that surrounds you. – Gavin Woodroffe

    14. Blair Atholl Golf Course (1st Hole, 100m)

    The narrow but long green is shouldered by a water hazard down the right and a deep bunker that awaits a pulled shot from the right-hander. The bunker edges into the green, so be careful with your club selection and always make an allowance for the elevation drop. The green’s slopes are varied, but the highest point is in the middle and a well-judged putt to the back of the green will require speed and line to get it close. A putt from the middle of the green to the front will be slightly downhill and requires the correct line, taking into account the slope. – Paul Marks

    15. Montagu at Fancourt (10th Hole, 122m)

    The green is well guarded by water in front and on the right – danger to any shot poorly struck or fading right. With the pin at the back, the bunker long and left comes into play, with the better player having to control the spin, which could see the ball gather speed down the slope towards the water. The hole is framed by water, green fairways, white bunkers and authentic Cape Dutch houses, but stay focused on the shot and club selection. – Tyronne Farrell

    16. Royal Johannesburg & Kensington, East course (6th Hole, 150m)

    Nestled in the East Course valley, the hole plays ever so slightly downhill over water to the green. The putting surface feeds to a generous water hazard, which is not the only defence. The large landing area often instils an inflated sense of confidence and a lack of concentration could spell disaster. A player who strays will find trouble and frustration in uncompromising abundance with the hole framed by huge poplars and a natural wetland. The spectacular modern bunkering offers more great defence. This will be a daunting tee shot and finding the putting surface will be easier said than done. – Chris Bentley

    17. Gary Player Country Club (9th Hole, 136m)

    The signature and most photographed hole at Sun City, the 9th has seen more than its fair share of drama over the years during the Nedbank Golf Challenge. At 136m, anything from a wedge to 8-iron will be used in a bid to land safely on the island green, where the water tends to strike fear into any golfer. The iconic hole plays exceptionally difficult when the pin is tucked away in the back left, and just as difficult when placed front and to the right. – Ken Payet

    18. The Els Club – Copperleaf (6th Hole, 90m)

    The picturesque view of this hole from tee to green welcomes the golfer to a challenging yet forgiving approach. The junior, lady or beginner can be accommodated with a shot on the left-hand side of the water hazard, leaving them with no fear of hitting one in the water. The long and wide green allows for pin placements to still catch a mis-hit that will end up close to the pin.The mound behind the green will stop the thinned shot, leaving the golfer with an opportunity to putt. The more advanced golfer will take on this holefrom across the water, leaving them facing a challenging shot, with two strategically paced bunkers as well as carrying the body of water about 60m. – Jaun Geyser

    *Words from the resident PGA Professional 

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