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Blair Atholl

Lanseria - Gauteng

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General manager: Vacant
Golf director: Paul Marks
Greenkeeper: Jan Hendrik Duvenhage
Club captain: Charles Ramsay
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 78.8 out of 100
Conditioning15.9 / 20
Playability15.1 / 20
Aesthetics13.2 / 15
Design Variety11.1 / 15
Shot Values11.7 / 15
Memorability11.8 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

Gold 7523 metres, CR78.8/143
Silver 6742 metres, CR74.5/142
Bronze 5875 metres, CR70.2/117
White 5530 metres, CR68.0/117
Women’s bronze, CR76.0/141
Women’s white,
CR74.1/137

Visitor green fee

R1 500 includes cart sharing, halfway house, water, use of range, personalised locker
Cart fee R440

Course designer

Gary Player 2007

Contact

011 300 5713
proshop@blairatholl.co.za

Previous Ranking

15 (2021) & 11 (2020)

The Blair Atholl Golf & Equestrian Estate was built on Gary Player’s former Gauteng home and stud farm, where some of South Africa’s great polo and race horses were raised. It is in a beautiful rural setting, far from the noise and bustle of city suburbs. 

Player remains passionate about the estate, and the championship course he designed was inspired by his love for Augusta National. It might be his last in South Africa, and a wonderful legacy to leave. Player’s love for thoroughbred horses saw the establishment of an equestrian centre. 

Blair Atholl is an exclusive and private lifestyle estate, but tee times are set aside for visitors who book ahead.

The spacious layout – surrounding farmland was also acquired – undulates through tranquil rolling countryside and indigenous bush – there are 250 000 trees on the property. Like Augusta National, there are a surprising amount of elevation changes, and the fairways are invitingly wide. On the opening par 5 the clubhouse quickly disappears from view as the fairway falls steeply downhill to a green adjoining a large water hazard.

The beauty of the layout is that it ambles far into the countryside, rather than looping back to the clubhouse, and has just the one starting tee. The halfway house comes after the eighth, an idyllic setting on a wooden deck under the trees overlooking the Crocodile River. The clubhouse is briefly seen at the 12th green before a final loop of six strong finishing holes, including South Africa’s most challenging par 4, 512 metres from the back tees and playing uphill. And it is six metres shorter than the par-4 15th! At least that plays downhill.

There are two unusual aspects to the course layout. Firstly, there are 5 par 5s and 5 par 3s – similar to Simola and Oubaai in the Garden Route, designed respectively by Jack Nicklaus and Ernie Els. Blair Atholl and Simola, coincidentally, begin and end with par 5 holes. Secondly, the back nine from the gold tees measures 4034 metres, just 545 metres fewer than the shortest 18-hole course in the South Africa, the Red tees at Wild Coast Sun.

It’s a long walk, and golfers have the option of taking a golf cart, a caddie, or both.

Blair Atholl is three kilometres from Lanseria Airport, a gateway airport to Sun City, 140 kilometres away. The Cradle of Humankind is close.

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

64 by Thriston Lawrence in final round of 2021 Blair Atholl Championship (Sunshine Tour). He had 30 on the front nine and 9 birdies.

Feature Holes

The fast-flowing Crocodile River runs through the course and the fourth is a fearsome dogleg left par-4 where the tee shot has to carry the river. Player modelled this hole on the famous 13th at Augusta. The hole before that is a magnificent par 3, reminiscent of the 12th at Augusta National, except that it asks for a long carry over a sunken pond to an elevated green. The par-3 eighth is played from a high tee to a green on the opposite bank of the river. On the back nine the 10th is a terrific par 5, the well-bunkered fairway sloping down to a stream, then climbing again to an elevated green. The long 15th is a memorable downhill par 4 with beautiful views over the countryside.

Practice Facility

Range and short-game area close to the first tee.

Club Champions

2021 Sean Milne
2020 Joshua Reimer
2019 Regan Steyn

Did You Know

1/ Blair Atholl is proud to have two Masters champions as members, Gary Player and Charl Schwartzel. Player became the club’s first honorary life member at the tenth anniversary dinner in 2017. There is a life-size statue of the Black Knight near the first tee. Schwartzel has the lowest score on the course, a 12-under 60 playing in a social fourball.

2/ At 7 523 metres (8 230 yards) from the back tees, Blair Atholl is one of the five longest courses in the world – No 1 is Jade Dragon Snow Mountain GC in China at 7 800m.

3/ Blair Atholl from the gold tees has seven par 4s of between 434 and 518 metres, three par 3s are between 213 and 222. The longest hole is the 594m 13th.

4/ Golf director Paul Marks is a Master PGA of SA professional, and immediate past chairman of the PGA.

5/ The clubhouse includes the Gary Player Fitness Centre, with state of the art training equipment. The estate has mountain bike, running and walking trails, fishing, tennis, squash courts and its own private spa.

6/ The Blair Atholl Championship in October 2021 was the club’s first professional tournament, won by Luke Brown on 12-under 276.

Course and Facilities Rating
Conditioning Ratings
Greens
Bunkers
Tees
Fairways
Presentation
Overall Conditioning
Facility Ratings
Pace of Play
Practice Range
Halfway House
Pro Shop
Service
Locker Room
19th Hole
Course Etiquette
Course Reviews
Accessing an exclusive course like Blair Atholl as a visitor used to seem an unattainable goal and initially one felt like an intruder. Golf director Paul Marks has changed the atmosphere and it is more welcoming to visitors. Friendly faces greet you on arrival. The smiles remain as you slink out of the club with your tail between your legs having been humbled by the beast. Having played both silver and bronze tees in the past, I am delighted there is now an in-between option that offers a fairer challenge between the extreme length and subtle variations the course offers. The first eight holes, towards one of the most beautiful and unique halfway houses, is one of the best stretch of golfing holes in Gauteng, offering variations that keep you on your toes. The second half of the course, especially in a breeze, offers a challenge in concentration and power, with the 16th a monster par 4 at 481 metres uphill with bunkers to carry. Laying up here even for a long hitter is not embarrassing. It is actually advisable and may offer a better chance for par.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
22 July 2022
The Blair Atholl experience is memorable. The course is a true test off the silver (club) tees (6746m), let alone the gold which play at 7527m. This is an outstanding Gary Player design. The design variety and course routing provide scoring opportunities on the five par 5s, while testing the amateur golfer on the five par 3s. The signature third was playing 175m into a light breeze and it was a personal highlight to make a 2 for the first time on a hole modelled on the 12th at Augusta. The sixth, playing 200m, was one of the most difficult holes. Its greens complex, like many at Blair Atholl, is a masterpiece and precision is required off the tee. A narrow miss can leave you with an extremely long putt which is difficult to gauge. You will encounter the local “Amen Corner” on the back nine and it is the most testing in Gauteng. The 15th and 16th are absolute brute par 4s and the uphill stroke 1 16th will often require a lay-up playing at 481m. Par on either hole feels like an accomplishment. The greens are in exceptional condition and a bunker project is progressing at pace. Blair Atholl re-entered the Top 10 in 2022 and looks likely to climb further if current conditioning, enhancement to the tee boxes, and bridge upgrade projects deliver expected returns. It is a course that looks, feels and plays like a true championship test. It would be incredible to see it host a Presidents Cup.
Jon James
03 May 2022
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Good to be back at Blair Atholl after last playing here three years ago when conditioning was average. The course is now in superb condition. Greens hard and fast (a wake-up call to other top 10 courses that don't roll their greens and keep them relatively slow), bunkers well maintained and uniform, fairways in good shape. A testing but fair layout and a choice of different tees to play from. Credit to Paul Marks and his team for a world class experience. Easy to see why it makes the top 10 and I can see it moving further up the rankings.

David Frost
02 May 2022
Lovely design. Conditioning used to be better, hope it will improve again.
Pieter Odendaal
29 March 2022
World-class experience and in my opinion a top 6 course in SA. I tried to find fault during my playing experience and could find none, other than the course playability being too tough off the tips for the ordinary golfer.
Neville Clarke
29 January 2022
I enjoy the Blair Atholl experience, the layout, the greens, and as a visitor feel like I’m treated as a member. The greens are the strong point of the course, and I love the variety and size of the challenge.
Chris Wood
26 January 2022

A course improving year on year and a fine testament to the legacy and vision of Gary Player. One of the longest and most difficult of courses from the championship tees, even playing from the club tees adds a few shots to your handicap index. However, there are options to choose from and I recommend that shorter hitters choose the forward set. Having often played from the silver tees, for my latest game I thoroughly enjoyed teeing off from the bronze markers which offered a different vision of Blair Atholl. Although it reduced the playing difficulty it did not detract from the enjoyment. 

Roy Jones
04 January 2022
There is a massive difference in distance and playability between the silver (6742m) and the bronze tees (5875m) at Blair Atholl. Another tee midway between the two would add another dimension for the medium hitter who might feel overwhelmed by the silver tees. Excellent condition and experience overall. Note from editor: Blair Atholl golf director Paul Marks last year created two composite courses using a mixture of tees to cater for more golfers of differing abilities. The Red course is 6352m and the Green 5553m. Each has been assigned its own Course Rating and Slope. That means there are now six different sets of tees to play from at Blair Atholl.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
01 January 2022
A special experience. Get there early and enjoy the practice facilities. The course is extremely long but still feels enjoyable. Thankfully the fairways are wide and the greens huge. The first 8 holes are relatively gentle, the highlight being an Augusta inspired par-3 third. The halfway house is exceptional, good food enjoyed on the banks of the Crocodile River. The challenge ramps up on the closing holes, with a succession of long par 4s. Be prepared to drop a few shots!
Avinash Kalkapersad
21 December 2021

First visit to this course and to be honest I had no idea what I was in for. The overall golfing experience is amazing. I particularly enjoyed the flow of the design before the round, starting at the range (grass bays), then on to the chipping area and the putting green as you make your way to the first tee. Best you make use of all these facilities before tackling the course as the holes are long and the greens big. The par-3 third hole is memorable and one on which to get out the camera. Blair Atholl is one of the courses high up on my list to play when I return to Gauteng.

Lihan van der Merwe
11 December 2021
Blair Atholl has undergone a transformation in conditioning and presentation. Impressive to see it back to the levels you expect at this spectacular estate course. Everything about Blair Atholl is on a grand scale. The greens, bunkers and open spaces are vast -- it is not uncommon to struggle with two-putting. The design variety, placement of the bunkers and greens complexes are outstanding. I particularly enjoy two of the par 3s, the signature third with its look which reminds many golfers of Augusta, and No 17 which has one of the smaller greens surrounded by sand and water. The par 5s are interesting and varied with my favourites being the adjoining first and 18th which keep your attention both off the tee and with your approaches. In keeping with this exclusive club the service is outstanding. It is clear that Blair Atholl is again a strong contender for a Top 10 ranking.
Jon James
06 December 2021
Residents at Blair Atholl not only enjoy one of our best golf courses, whose conditioning is currently superb, but there is a wonderful variety of wildlife to be seen or heard on this large country estate, notably bird species which you rarely glimpse at most other Gauteng courses, either inhabiting the bush or the many wetlands. I spotted two leguans during my 18 holes, one juvenile sitting on a rock in the Crocodile River who then bravely took on the fast-flowing current and crossed back to shore in an instant. The sublime views looking north from the clubhouse, down the 18th fairway and over rolling hills towards the distant Magaliesberg, rank among the most scenic in the country, especially in late afternoon.
Stuart McLean
03 December 2021
An exceptional experience from the minute you drive through the gates. A great test of golf with an unforgettable halfway house and an awesome finish. The ambience is quiet, relaxing, and Blair Atholl is a bucket list venue.
Ashley Parker
22 November 2021
Blair Atholl is a stern test. The conditions were sublime although the greens had been hollow-tined, meaning they were not running as pure and quickly as usual. This does detract a bit from the experience as the greens complexes are the highlight for me. It was good to see new bunker sand being put into several bunkers and work being done to shape and keep these in top condition, something many courses don't do often enough. The experience and customer service at Blair Atholl is top notch. Some damage has been done to greens by springbok but it didn't affect play and I'm comfortable with that given it adds a South African aspect to the course.
Chris Wood
11 May 2021
Blair Atholl is an amazing experience and needs to be on every golfer's bucket list. The breakfast is excellent and the practice facilities world class. Playing off the forward bronze tees makes for an enjoyable experience. The course is a monster off the longer tees. The halfway house after the 8th hole, on the Crocodile River, provides a delicious assortment of food and drink. The layout is interesting and testing, with an abundance of trees and very little sound apart from the chatter of birds. Drinks in the clubhouse completed a perfect golf day.
Ed raubenheimer
01 May 2021
A golf outing at Blair Atholl is one to savour, a "stop and smell the roses" moment. Take the time to look around and appreciate both a remarkable Gary Player golf course and an exceptional golf experience from arrival to departure which to my mind is only equalled by Leopard Creek and The Links for exclusivity, service and aesthetics. Each golf cart in our fourball had a caddie who did an exceptional job in making our day as pleasant as possible. The course is quiet enough that you never feel rushed. The beauty of the ever-changing terrain catches your attention from the opening par 5 hole which swoops downhill to one of the many large greens, this one framed by a water hazard on the right. Two holes on the front nine require a tee shot across the swirling Crocodile River. Everything is on a grand scale at Blair Atholl. The golf holes reflect the vastness and scale of the property.
Stuart McLean
28 April 2021
1. When we arrived the reception was the best we have ever had at any club. 2. Locker room was great. 3. Pro shop average and did not have my shirt size. 4. Getting my cart and clubs was professional. A spotter was already allocated to my cart and he immediately began cleaning my clubs. 5. Practice facilities better than any club I have visited and close to the first tee. Clubs cleaned on the range (wow!). Big practice green and immediately I sense the greens are going to be the best I have played. 6. The layout is fantastic, like playing one of the world's best courses. The bunkers and greens are big and make you feel you are part of something special. 7. The most difficult course I have played, too long for me, but the nicest. Only Pinnacle Point has better views. 8. Better than many courses ranked above it that I have played. 9. Very expensive, but I have to go back and have another try. The course had the better of me.
Danie de Waal
19 April 2021
Felt like playing a course on the PGA Tour. Excellent.
Niekie van der Walt
16 April 2021
You will use all 14 clubs in your bag here. A special track, in my top 5 in SA. The golf cart seats are really comfy.
Owen McDonald
09 April 2021
Blair Atholl is a contender for being a Top 10 course in coming years. The level of service is arguably the best in Gauteng on and off the course. The signature hole, the par-3 third, is the first of 5 challenging "short" holes. There is something special about the layout as it moves around the estate showing off superb views of the Crocodile River. An excellent challenge for the lower handicap but still enjoyable for a higher handicap. With excellent condition from tee to green, I cannot recommend this course enough.
Craig Gunther
15 February 2021
Blair Athol is a challenge to play. A very long course with especially long par 3s.  There is a unique halfway house under the trees on the Crocodile River.
Philip Malan
14 February 2021
Most challenging (it can be easier from the front tees) and beautiful course in SA. Played several courses in December, this one is world-class,
Douglas Donnelly
14 February 2021
The course held up nicely in wet conditions after two weeks of rain in Gauteng. The greens rolled true and still had pace in them. The halfway house next to the river is always special. It feels like you have the course to yourself when you play at Blair Atholl.
Attie van der Linde
12 February 2021
The greens were rolling nice and true. The longest course I have ever played.
Stefan Rudman
18 December 2020
Work needed on green surrounds and kikuyu removal programme in progress. Lots of interesting holes and a true test.
Paul
12 December 2020
Blair Atholl is an incredible time out. Although long and challenging, the course offers superb views, excellent conditioning from tee to green, and great service. Always a special occasion.
Craig Gunther
02 December 2020
An absolute tester in the wind. An enjoyable first eight holes, followed by the best setting of a halfway house of any course I have played, right on the Crocodile River. The river is not only a beautiful feature in the way it flows through the course, but also influences play on several holes. The back nine is a monster, 500 metres longer than the front nine, and you're continually pounding away on one massive hole after another. And this is from the club tees (silver), not the back gold tees.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
14 September 2020
This beautiful course is one of only a few with 5 par 5s and 5 par 3s. A real treat and always in superb condition. A beast of a hole is the 16th which measures up to its reputation as one of the longest par 4s you'll ever play. The course is a delight to the eye and a true test of your game.
Sandor Kovacs
16 April 2020
Blair Atholl is back on track to be considered worthy of a Top 10 ranking. This is a "Big" course so be sure to choose the right tee box which suits your ability. Few clubs provide a better halfway stop than the one following the eighth on a tree-lined deck overlooking the Crocodile River. The superb service and faire complements the overall outstanding experience.
Roy Jones
04 April 2020
Blair Atholl has a terrific aura about it, both in terms of its rugged African setting in the hills outside Johannesburg and the sense of space. Few golf courses have such a large footprint. Every hole is in its own individual corridor. You feel alone out there. The greens are huge -- collectively they add up to more than 10 000 square metres -- and brilliantly designed with creative slopes and run-off areas. If you don't drive the ball at least 250 metres, play the forward tees to get maximum enjoyment.
Stuart McLean
22 March 2020
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