Burgundy 7162 metres, CR78.2/155
Green 6550 metres, CR75.2/151
White 5962 metres, CR72.2/144
Light green 5017 metres, CR66.2/131
Women’s light green, CR72.3/138
R980 day visitor
Gary Player & Ron Kirby 1979
Central golf reservations:
11 (2022) & 7 (2021)
South Africa’s best-known golf course locally and globally, due to its high-profile television exposure as host for the past 40 years of first the Million Dollar Challenge and then the Nedbank Golf Challenge. An iconic layout in a magnificent bushveld setting in a valley of the Pilanesberg.
Until Sun City was built in the late 1970s, South Africa did not have a resort where golfers could stay, play and have fun family time. Gary Player designed the course with Ron Kirby specifically to create a modern championship course which would surpass SA’s old classic venues and become a formidable challenge for the best golfers in the world. It has since hosted more than 70 pro tour events.
The course has stood the test of time, with changes and improvements in the new millennium ensuring that it retains its reputation as one of the toughest examinations on the European Tour. The average score in the 2019 Nedbank Challenge from an exclusive field of 63 tour stars was 72.44.
It is a long course from the championship tees, and while many club golfers are tempted to play it from the tips, to experience how difficult it can be, it is best enjoyed from one of the forward tees which were an innovation in the original design. Not only is it long, but missing a fairway can bring its own hardships. It usually means a penalty drop from the bush, or a limited recovery shot.
And then there are the slick, subtly sloping greens, which provide their own challenges for even the world’s best. The green complexes are uniquely designed with their cloverleaf shapes, so pins can be tucked into narrow tongues of green that are hard to reach. That makes for small targets.
The one exception is the round and flat green on the par-4 17th, and the reason is that the hole is a new one, built for the 2003 Nedbank Challenge. Coupled with a new back tee (437 metres), it transformed a shortish par 4 into one of the most demanding holes on the course, bringing water into play around the green. It was the second most difficult hole at the 2019 tournament at an average score of 4.21, behind the 4.29 of the 18th.
Since the 17th was built, the average winning score for 17 events has been 14-under, compared to 17-under between 1991 and 2002.
61 by Padraig Harrington, third round 2001 (12 birdies)
62 by Lee Westwood, third round 2011 (10 birdies)
Sun City has a wide range of hotels, from the 5-star Lost City Palace and Cascades to the budget 3-star Cabanas. The Cascades, Soho Hotel & Casino, and Cabanas, are all a short walk from the golf clubhouse.
The only range at Sun City is at the Lost City Course.
The GPCC has a chipping and putting green.
1/ The end-of-year tournament changed in 2000 from being the Million Dollar Challenge to the Nedbank Golf Challenge. It was a select 12-man field until 2012, increased to 30 players in 2013. It became a European Tour event in 2016 as part of the Race to Dubai Finals.
2/ The course experienced remarkably low tournament scoring from 1991 until 2002 before it was lengthened and toughened. Nick Price was 24-under in 1993, Ernie Els 25-under in 1999.
3/ The first $2 million first prize in world golf was introduced at the 2000 tournament, won by Els in a playoff over Lee Westwood, who earned $300 000.
4/ From the back tees, the shortest par 4 is the sixth, and that is 388 metres. All the other par 4s exceed 400 metres. The shortest par 3 is the 16th, at 193 metres. By comparison the par 5s are relatively short, the tenth being 500 metres, and the 14th 550 metres.
5/ The first 64 at the GPCC was by Lee Trevino in 1981 Sun City Classic, the first 63 by Sergio Garcia in 2001 NGC.
6/ Sun City hosted the Dimension Data Pro-Am from 1996 to 2009, before it moved to Fancourt. And the Women’s World Cup from 2006 to 2008.
As with any Top 10 course the moment you step on to the first tee you know you are in for a special day at Gary Player CC. It continues to live up to its reputation, a true challenge in phenomenal condition. Playing off the back tees is an extremely different experience. The par 3s become so much trickier and you have to reconsider your plan on the longer par 4s. I would recommend doing it to get a taste of what the professionals experience during the Nedbank Challenge. I left extremely satisfied with a day well spent on one of our finest.
Disappointing experience for our fourball on March 30 and 31. The greens had been hollow-tined the week before. They were slow (about 7 to 7.5 on the stimp) and bumpy, the worst greens I have played for years. Considering the distance visitors must travel to play the Sun City courses I feel (having supplied all our contact details) that we should have been pre-warned. Many of the bunkers had also not been raked, not merely that day but quite evidently for several days. Sad to see this otherwise lovely course somewhat neglected.
Impeccable service by professional staff as always. Golf course in good condition; just needs the first rainfall of the season.
Having attended the 2019 Nedbank Challenge I was pleased to see that the conditioning and upkeep had been maintained and in some cases improved on the day we played. The greens were superb, which we have come to expect. Service, caddies and overall value of the day remains in the Top 10. Once you have finished on 18 you want to play it again. In fact, one of our group did play another 9.
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