The passion for local golf and the excellent offering available in South Africa could not have been better captured than at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN at Leopard Creek.
South Africa has a lot of stunning and picturesque golf courses. From the fantastic locations in the Cape winelands to the breathtaking scenery of courses in the garden route and finally to the unique experiences of playing and watching golf in the bushveld; we, as golf lovers, are truly fortunate to have such a great variety of courses in South Africa to thrill and entertain us.
And that love was on show this week. The fact that everybody is talking about the high quality of the course and the excellent condition of the fairways and greens, it is quite tough not to think of Leopard Creek as arguably one of the most beautiful courses in the country.
Greenkeeper at this golfing paradise, Neville Wenhold, has had a front row seat of seeing Leopard Creek gain this royal status, especially following the course’s 2017 renovation.
Since the Alfred Dunhill Championship returned last year, the feeling the past two years have been that this course is the ultimate for any golfing fan in South Africa and maybe even the world.
In the accurate words of Wenhold, ‘What is there not to love about this place? We are bordering with the Kruger National Park, a championship golf course with world class standards and just the entire ethos of the estate and the people here makes it a lovely place to be.’
Wenhold, who has been at the helm of the course maintenance since 2016, and his team have gone to great lengths to create such an elegant display that has only received compliments of the players and fans who have had to privilege of visiting Leopard Creek in recent times.
‘It’s continuously been our mission to get the course to a world-class and quality tournament standard,’ says Wenhold who, for the past few weeks have been out on the course before sunrise, working long hours with his people in the challenging heat, to make sure every little detail of preparation is complete.
And, given the enormous commitment and hard work they’ve put in, it’s no surprise this year’s addition of the competition has exceeded every bit of expectation Wenhold had leading up to the start on Thursday.
‘We had severe temperatures every day of the tournament. It is really unbelievable how the new grass we use and the course in general held up with the extreme heat we’ve experienced,’ says Wenhold.
The course has definitely proved to be quite testing to even some of the best golfers who competed this week and eagles, especially on the iconic par five 18th hole, have been few and far between.
‘We’ve had some good rain over the last couple of weeks and it has really helped us to get our roughs up. It doesn’t really give the golfer the chance to go for the green in two on the 18th but it has certainly added to the competitiveness of the how the course plays.’