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Leopard Creek Country Club

Leopard Creek, designed by Gary Player and located strategically on the border of the Kruger National Park near Malelane, is internationally recognised as a world-class golf course. The course epitomises African golf at its best, with indigenous bushveld bordering the immaculate fairways and greens. Many PGA professional tournaments have been held on the course, including the well-known South African Sunshine Tour.

Although the course was designed by Gary Player, it was radically altered a few years later on the advice of one of its members and property owners, Jack Nicklaus. Whereas Player had its greens, tees, and bunkers built, Nicklaus suggested that they be lowered to look more natural. Apart from the lovely flat waterside greens on the front nine par threes, his changes are remarkable and a significant improvement in the layout. t Around the same time, the club removed a wall behind the 13th green to allow golfers to see the Crocodile River and the enormity of Kruger, which was a brilliant move that allowed golfers to watch the wildlife while waiting to putt.

This wonderful layout, which hosts the annual Alfred Dunhill Golf Tournament, has numerous animals strolling the fairways. On your drive, you might hear a buffalo snort or see a giraffe near the fence, while the pitch shot might require a hit over a lake full of crocodiles and hippos. The clubhouse, which is brimming with golf memorabilia, is one of the best in Africa: an extraordinary piece of architecture with a thatch roof.

While innovative architectural and landscaping techniques have ensured that Leopard Creek is naturally protected from animals, the course is still renowned for being a heady mix of golf and safari. Aside from wildlife, visual distractions include lakes and small streams diverted through the development, which provide panoramic vistas and interesting golf strategies. The presence of families of hippos in the water and magnificent crocodiles in the river elevates golf hazards to a whole new level. In terms of holes, Jack Nicklaus is particularly proud of the par-five 18th, which features an island green, and the par-four 9th, which features a peninsula green jutting out into the same body of water.

This is one of South Africa’s bucket list golf courses and one that you should absolutely play if staying in the Eastern Cape.

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