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
R1 350 includes cart sharing, halfway house, water, and use of range
Gary Player 2007
011 300 5713
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.
60 by Charl Schwartzel in a social round
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.
Range and short-game area close to the first tee.
2020 Joshua Reimer
2019 Regan Steyn
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.
2/ Schwartzel owns a home at Blair Atholl, and has the lowest score, a 12-under 60 playing in a social fourball.
3/ 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 7 800 metres.
4/ Blair Atholl from the gold tees has seven par 4s of between 434 and 518 metres, three of the par 3s are between 213 and 222 metres. The longest hole is the 594-metre 13th.
5/ Golf director Paul Marks is a Master PGA of SA professional, and immediate past chairman of the PGA.
6/ 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.
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