Thursday, 31 October 2013

Courses I've played : The Els Club, Copperleaf : 10/10

Maybe I should start this post with a disclaimer. I am biased, this is my home course and there is nowhere else I enjoy playing in Gauteng more (that includes you River Club).

Ostensibly an inland links design, The Els Club is one of those courses that can be a pleasure to play or a sheer nightmare (I have seen a +1 shoot a 90+ in the wind!), the fairways are wide and generous but the bunkers and rough are penal and the holes are laid out to always take advantage of the prevailing wind in one way or another.

The Els Club is a long golf course, 7400m+ off the tips (it has the longest par 3 and par 5 on the European Tour), all of the low stroke holes generally play in to the wind, there are over 100 bunkers on the course (there is only one hole without a bunker and it ain't all that easy either) and enough water to scare the pants off a high handicapper.

That's not to say it isn't fun to play, most golfers will stay on a fairway and have a decent next shot, the challenge is that all of the hazards have been very cleverly placed and are generally in exactly the right position to catch you out if you are not on your game. The course also has a wide range of tee's which they use to full effect come monthly medal time.

My personal favourite hole is number 6 and its probably also the feature given the number of pictures that have been taken of it (it is both the banner and first picture in the gallery via the links below), it is a shortish par 4, with most low handicappers going off the tee with a long iron or rescue club and hoping they don't draw it into the water which runs parallel to the left of the fairway, higher handicappers might go with a driver but then run the risk of running out of fairway or slicing onto the sloped rough off the right of the fairway making for a seriously challenging second shot.

Every second shot is played over water to a raised green, which slopes sharply from back to front (you run the risk of spinning it back off the front edge if you leave it short and if you are really unlucky all the way back off into the water) surrounded by bunkers, rough and out of bounds. There are many tough pin positions on this green and management like to bring all of the hazards into play.

Walking off this green with a par, feels like a birdie! That being said there is always a good chance of taking the dreaded snowman if you having an off day. A great test of golf for golfers of all abilities.

Having played most if not all of the courses in Gauteng, I also believe that The Els Club has the best management team around, firm but fair and always looking after their golfers - we get to play on a great course every week, we are well looked after and most members I know don't really mind that we have to give it up for a week or two every year whilst the club hosts the Tshwane Open on the European Tour.

In the end, I suppose the nice thing about being a member at the The Els Club is that when ever you play away bunkers don't scare you and the course is never as long, if you have a single figure handicap at the The Els Club you probably deserve it.

I couldn't hope to fully do the course justice but have a look at some of the pictures via Ernie Els's website and that of the estate itself.

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