Els Club Copperleaf

Midrand - Gauteng

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General manager: Phineas Thosago
Golf director: Thinus Rosslee
Greenkeeper: Thomas Matloga (Golf Data)
Club captain: Hannes van der Berg
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 70.6 out of 100
Conditioning14.8 / 20
Playability14.9 / 20
Aesthetics10.1 / 15
Design Variety10.5 / 15
Shot Values10.9 / 15
Memorability9.4 / 15

Course Summary

Five tees / Par 72

Black 7363 metres, CR77.5/145
Yellow 6681 metres, CR74.4/142
White 6305 metres, CR71.0/134
Blue 5594 metres, CR68.0/124
Red 5117 metres, CR65.8/105
Women’s yellow, CR82.3/151
Women’s white, CR77.7/140
Women’s blue, CR73.5/130
Women’s red, CR70.2/125

Visitor green fee

R750 weekdays
R900 weekends
Includes share of golf cart

Course designer

Ernie Els 2007


012 668 8900

Previous ranking

51 (2023), 56 (2022) & 56 (2021)

This modern golf estate of 1165 homes in the Gauteng countryside, with its strong family lifestyle theme, has flourished in recent years with the increased expansion out west. Being close to the N14 highway means its residents can easily commute to divergent areas of Gauteng. It is 20 minutes from Lanseria Airport.

It is the only Els Club in South Africa, where the promise is of a “supreme golfing and leisure experience reflecting Ernie’s personal tastes, a stylish place for the whole family to relax and unwind.”

Built on grassland plains, the Copperleaf layout conveys a sense of wide open space, where the length of holes and distinctive Els bunkering is the main challenge. It is regarded as one of Gauteng’s championship layouts, and hosted two European Tour events, the Tshwane Open, in 2013 and 2014. Golf carts are compulsory.

At the time it was the longest course in European Tour history, playing to a maximum length of 7680 metres (8399 yards), although it was reduced to 7360 metres in 2013 and 7281 in 2014. However, the extreme length did not intimidate the pros, who adored the flawless greens. Dawie van der Walt won in 2013 with a 21-under total of 267, and Ross Fisher in 2014 with 20-under 268.

Notwithstanding the long holes, Els has designed a members course with wide fairways which golfers of all levels can enjoy from multiple teeing areas, particularly those who drive the ball well. And it’s not all about outsized holes. There are three short risk-reward par 4s on which to get adventurous. Challenges lie in strategically placed bunkers, water hazards and superbly designed greens.


Additional Course Facts

Course Record

62 by Brandon Stone in 2009;
Jean Hugo, 2010 Vodacom Origins

Feature Holes

The 422-metre par-4 sixth is considered the signature hole, and is stroke 1. The longer the tee shot the less club you have for a demanding approach shot angled across a water hazard to an elevated green. The third is the longest par 3 in South Africa, 254m from the back, and that is followed by a 636m par-5. The 11th is 600m from the back. Each nine ends with a particularly strong and distinctive par 4.

Practice Facility

The Els Club has one of the premier practice facilities in South Africa, a vast expanse of land where golfers can work on their game in their own space. There is a teaching academy and custom-fitting centre on site.

Club Champions

2023 Jason Louw & Russo Roberts Gouws
2022 Vian Jansen van Vuuren & Gizelle vd Westhuizen
2021 Roelof Nel & Michelle Labuschagne
2020 Luka Stanisavljevic & Ella Cole
2019 Francois van Staden & Ella Cole

Did You Know

1/ The estate was built on a farm once owned by Ernie Els’s grandfather, Ernie Vermaak. The golf course is owned by the Home Owners Association.

2/ Brandon Stone, 14, caddied for Ernie Els at the course opening in November 2007, when it was known as Gardener Ross, and won the first club championship in 2008. His father Kevin, a former Sunshine Tour pro, was the club’s first golf director.

3/ At the end of August each year the club presents a unique event for its members called the King of the Tips, which is played from the very back tees on each hole – a formidable challenge.

4/ There are four Els Clubs in the world, the others being in Dubai, Langkawi Island in Malaysia, and the Desaru Coast near Singapore.

5/ Louis Albertse shot 27 on the back nine in a 2018 IGT Tour event. He had seven birdies and an eagle at 15 in a round of 64.

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Course Reviews
A big sprawling layout with wide fairways and large greens complexes. Conditioning has been transformed. Impressive greens and good results from the bunker upgrade. The yellow tees provide plenty to challenge the club golfer with forced carries which get your attention. The third is a brute of a par 3. The par-4 seventh allows you a go at driving the green, albeit well defended by bunkers. The stretch around the grab-n-go turn is strong, with two of the longest 4s at 9 and 10. Service, attentiveness from staff, and marshalling all good. Other estate courses could benefit from shortening the halfway stop and reduce 5-hour rounds.
Jon James
09 March 2024
The Els Club doesn't start promisingly -- an ordinary downhill par 4 at No 1 and then a hole which punishes shorter hitters with the positioning of fairway bunkers, leaving a blind second for those who cannot carry them -- but it gets better and there's quality, variety and playability from No 6 onwards. Beautiful views of the surrounding countryside on the back nine, and the long grass and wildflowers in out-of-play areas improve the aesthetics. The course does favour exponents of the modern game who play off white tees (6305 metres). It's too easy from these tees if you hit a longish ball because most fairway bunkers are redundant. The yellow tees (6681) are a better test of ability. Black (7363) are essentially only for elite golfers.
Dieter ten Haag
04 February 2024
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The Ernie Els course has had two major upgrades the last two years. The new greens are fantastic, and the bunkers have been upgraded. They look and play perfectly. The design variety makes for a fun round of golf with several excellent holes.
Thinus Keller
17 January 2024
Among the interesting design features at Copperleaf is a par 3 without a bunker or water hazard, the 14th. It comes as a surprise after the abundance of bunkering on the first 13 holes. No 14 is still a challenging hole though due to its length, tricky green and thick bushveld right of the green. A back right pin position is scary to play to. There is extreme rarity value in a par 3 without a hazard in SA, although not at an Ernie Els design. The par-3 third at Highland Gate is another, although it has enough trouble around a sloping green to compensate for their absence. The few others you find in SA are generally on long par 3s, such as the uphill second hole at Elements, and uphill sixth at CCJ Rocklands.
Stuart McLean
15 December 2023
GOOD: Greens in great nick except 17, a par 3 peppered with pitch marks. It didn't roll as well as the rest. Tees near perfect and fairways really good for winter. I liked the warm-up facility, ample parking, GPS distances displayed accurately on cart. BAD: I asked for a plaster as my finger was bleeding. No one had access to the first aid kit so couldn't help me. Terrible boerewors roll at halfway house. The wors was half the size of the bun and it was expensive. Our cart died after 11 holes. They supplied a replacement but now we were behind pace of play and pressured to catch up with the fourball in front. The bunkers had different textures and were inconsistent. VERDICT: I would still recommend the course as one to play. I enjoy the wide fairways, the many tee options and big greens.
Ignis van der Merwe
14 August 2023

Copperleaf is a bit lean on aesthetics with many of the holes framed by oversized houses, and an absence of trees, yet this is an excellent Ernie Els design (routed most pleasantly) with a particularly good back nine. I wasn't in raptures about No 10, an awkwardly difficult par 4 with an angled and raised green but loved every hole from there to the finish. The raised green at the par-5 11th is more suitable for that length of hole. Lots of width off the tee encourages a positive swing, so no problem with driving. The challenges all the way home are about the approach shots to every green, whether they be short irons or longer clubs. This is where the design comes into its own. Good ball-strikers have a big advantage. Yet missing the green does reward creativity with the short game.

Thomas Souness
28 June 2023
Interesting that on a big course such as Copperleaf, Ernie Els managed to incorporate three short par 4s. Over the hill at Blair Atholl, Gary Player found space for only one. In these days of power hitting, it's difficult to define a short par 4. Some would say 350 metres in Gauteng. I would say 330. Even from the yellow tees (6681), Copperleaf has the 340 seventh, 336 13th, and 300 16th. From the white tees they are 308, 322 and 276. A trio of fun holes, each playing differently, and they provide Copperleaf with an attractive design balance redolent of modern courses. No 16 is the best short par 4 I've seen from Ernie, and at 276 it's only 22 metres longer than the 254m par-3 third from the black tees. Both you can attack with driver or metal wood, but No 16 will leave you with a scary pitch if you miss the green. I find Copperleaf enjoyable, yet choosing the right tee markers to play from is paramount. There are five of them, but nothing from around 5900 metres. A sizeable gap between 5600 and 6300.
Stuart McLean
06 June 2023
The new greens are in superb condition and easily the best I played the past year. We played off the yellow tees (6681 metres) and on some holes there's a big difference compared to the white "club" tees (6305), particularly the par-3 third where we were faced with 240m into a breeze. Fairways and tees also in excellent condition and all aspects of service were above average.
Trevor King
18 January 2023
Copperleaf's Ernie Els design in the rolling grassland veld of Gauteng North is neither a links nor a parkland course. At first glance the absence of trees and other flora makes it appear rather bland, as if designed by a computer programme. However, an abundance of strategically placed bunkers, plus well defined and contoured fairways, does have its own visual appeal. Along with five sets of tee boxes each hole presents very well. Large greens with excellent putting surfaces, subtle breaks and runoff areas, makes shot placing a priority. Most greenside bunkers have been refurbished and are very good whilst the fairway bunkers are still to be attended to. They are not great. The range is excellent and top-notch service is delivered throughout the club facilities.
Roy Jones
08 January 2023
The Els Club is a challenging layout, both in terms of its length and visual intimidation off the tee. The first is a relatively gentle downhill opener of a par 4, but standing on the second tee I understood that my biggest challenge for the rest of the round would be to see if I could evade the bunkers, even with the generously wide fairways. They are everywhere and hard to miss being so cleverly positioned. The exceptions are the par-3 14th, the only bunkerless hole, and the par-4 sixth which has no fairway bunkers. My challenge ended early. The greenside bunkers have all been renovated with new white sand, but the fairway bunkers were not done. While the greenside sand is soft, the rest is firm, which actually makes for easier recovery shots. You're going to hit ball first. The new greens are running at a superb pace and the overall experience is a good one. The back nine was clearly my favourite; the holes on that side are that much better.
Stuart McLean
31 March 2022
My home club and favourite course. Playing more than 100 rounds a year here I am amazed at how much variation is offered from the five different tees.
Zacharias van den Berg
21 March 2022
This course has grown in over the last few years which has added more definition to the visual aspect from the tee boxes. Expect to find plenty of fairway to aim at. With five tee boxes to choose from, and a massive difference in distance between black and red tees, your playing handicap can vary significantly. The recently opened greens are excellent and on-going refurbishment of the bunkers should see further improvements to the golfing experience and playability.
Roy Jones
10 March 2022
A very long course off the tips, probably unplayable from there for the standard 18 handicap. A superb layout with tons of bunkering.
Neville Clarke
31 January 2022
The course currently has 18 temporary greens for the rest of the year following a greens resurfacing project by Golf Data. The greens were resurfaced with 007 bent grass at the end of August and will officially be opened on January 2, 2022. There is also a programme to upgrade the 114 bunkers on the course. Some bunkers have been done, and the best way forward to do the rest is still being decided.
Stuart McLean
05 October 2021
I do not think the new rating of 56 does justice to the course's current condition. Nevertheless it was a good wake-up call for management and members. Green speed is up and more consistent, there are new balls on the range, and fairways are in mint condition. The bunkers are still a work in progress. I project that Copperleaf will soon claw its way back up the ratings.
Zacharias van den Berg
12 February 2021
The course presentation is good at the moment with clearly defined playing areas (fairways, first cut and rough). The greens are good and running about 10.5 on the stimpmeter.
Attie van der Linde
12 February 2021
Copperleaf has matured in recent years. While not a fan of "cart golf" I appreciate this is a feature of most estate courses today. The course is challenging, especially from the distant back tees.
David Stratton
22 January 2021
Golf course in great condition tee to green, however the greens were fluffy and slow. Bunkers uneven in their covering.
Donovan Stoop
30 October 2020

What a test of your golfing skills! A magnificent modern layout well thought out.

Sandor Kovacs
18 April 2020
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