17

Gary Player CC

Sun City - North West Province

Played this course? Review it now
GM Sport & Recreation: Ken Payet
Course superintendent: Jomar Snyman
Golf operations: Victor Mabule & JC Coetzer
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 77.8 out of 100
Conditioning14.7 / 20
Playability15.4 / 20
Aesthetics12.7 / 15
Design Variety11.0 / 15
Shot Values12.3 / 15
Memorability11.7 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

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

Visitor green fee

R830 resident
R980 day visitor
Caddie R330

Course designer

Gary Player & Ron Kirby 1979

Contact

Central golf reservations:
014 5571245/6
www.suninternational.com

Previous ranking

12 (2023), 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.

Read: SUN CITY’S GREATEST TOURNAMENT

Read: SUN CITY OWES ITS DESIGN TO RON KIRBY

Read: SA OPEN GOES TO SUN CITY FOR THE FIRST TIME

Read: SUN CITY COURSES REMAIN CLOSED

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

61 by Padraig Harrington, third round 2001 (12 birdies)
62 by Lee Westwood, third round 2011 (10 birdies)

Accommodation

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.

Practice Facility

The only range at Sun City is at the Lost City Course.
The GPCC has a chipping and putting green.

Did You Know

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.

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Course Reviews
Visiting Sun City was our golf school's Worst Golf Experience in the last 10 years. Service levels shocking. A cart was booked a week in advance for a member of our group who had a medical condition. No carts available on arrival. We waited 45 minutes for one, and when it arrived the batteries were not charged. We then waited 40 minutes on the first tee, groups arguing with the marshal, trying to obtain tee times. We waited 35 minutes at halfway to receive food and drinks. The end result, we finished in the dark. Course in average condition but experience and service levels 1/10. Will never play this top 20 course again.
Chris Kriel
20 May 2024
Great course but having somewhere to hit balls close to the first tee before the round would be helpful. This is a big resort facility, and I'm surprised nothing has been done about that. The only range is at the Lost City Course, and you cannot walk there and back from Gary Player CC.
Jos
13 March 2024
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Golf at Sun City remains a good but tough experience, particularly at the GPCC. Compared to my previous visit when the rough was overly deep and punitive, this time it was still tough but fair. However, the greens were running too slow to properly exhibit their normal difficult character.
Mark Lynam
05 February 2024
The condition of the course had deteriorated since the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November. Although the greens were true, they were slower than expected. Layout and design variety is among the best in South Africa. However, the buildup to the 18th hole was disappointing from the perspective of the approach to the green. Without grandstands in place, as during the NGC, the green is lost with no backdrop. For general play a design feature to provide more definition to the 18th green might be considered which will not impact on the NGC infrastructure. Walking the course with a caddie added positively to the overall experience.
Lihan van der Merwe
22 January 2024
A year ago, GPCC was in the best shape I had seen it in a long time. So, returning there this December, I had expectations. However, the practice greens didn’t suggest standards were the same. In fairness though, I knew the course had suffered since the Nedbank Challenge. However, having driven over the awful speed humps on the road to Sun City, I was hoping for something worth the price of the green fee and the drive. Unfortunately, the course was not close to how I had found it in 2022. Fairways and greens are struggling, the greens so slow that it didn't seem worth putting. Even knowing how slow they were, it was difficult to get putts to the pin. The fairways were uneven and felt like the first cut. Not much run. Arriving on the 14th tee left me aghast. All the sprinklers were turned on. We had to detour around the bridge as one sprinkler, either broken or not rotating, was trained at it. The fairway was drenched with the non-rotating sprinklers forming puddles. On No 14 green a sprinkler drenched the back of the green and the water was streaming towards the bunker. While I accept this is an automated process, it reflects a lack of care. The level of service seems to have been downgraded at arrival and halfway house. It improved at the end with drinks. I love this course and each year I swear I would never return due to the R556 road to the resort, but the course has always been the attraction. I hope my latest experience was an anomaly and it will return to its super self. Please!
Sabelo Ndabazandile
17 December 2023
Having hosted the Nedbank Challenge the course is back to the levels you expect of this championship layout. Playing off the Burgundy / Pro tees is something to test yourself, yet not for the faint of heart as many forced carries are more than 250m. If your driver is off it will be a long day. Demanding tee shots are just the start of the challenges, as you are also faced with clever pin placements and slick putting surfaces. The bunkers, a long-time blight, have improved significantly and are well maintained. The par 4s are strong with No 8 (stroke 1) a most difficult challenge, along with No 17 with water left and bunkers right. Finishing on the iconic 18th is special. With grandstands still in place you have an opportunity to feel like a pro while trying not to land your approach shot in the stands!
Jon James
12 December 2023
Midweek in May is a good time to escape to Sun City for a break and play the GPCC when the resort is relatively quiet. Just the sound of birds (mostly Go-Away) disturbs the silence once away from the clubhouse. The tranquillity of playing golf here in such a peaceful environment is not often remarked upon. There was one group of 12 golfers, but otherwise just a few scattered fourballs, and two of us were round in four hours. The weather was pleasant and the course outstanding. Greens slower than usual though, yet an acceptable speed. The kikuyu fairways are wonderful to play from, and the quality of the bunker sand exceptional. Rough is still thick in places, but this is a highly playable layout from tee to green. Best to check on hollow-tining practices at Sun City this time of year; the Lost City greens were recently done and aren't fun to play right now.
Stuart McLean
18 May 2023
One of the best courses I have played. Always in amazing condition. It’s a long round though without a cart. Only disappointment is that you have to drive to the Lost City Course for use of the range facility.
Martin Donald
07 February 2023
Played this great layout in the middle of winter and was impressed with the level of conditioning. The bunkers have improved to a level expected from a course of this stature. The iconic par-5 ninth hole never disappoints.
Trevor King
27 December 2022
The Gary Player course was looking beautifully green but sadly the greens themselves were bumpy and slow. Perhaps due to the Nedbank Challenge last month?
Sabelo
21 December 2022
Golfers were using persimmon woods, hitting a small 1.62-inch golf ball, and had metal spikes in their golf shoes, when the Gary Player CC first opened for play. It will be 50 years old towards the end of this decade, and even after all that time the course remains a wonderful challenge to all levels of golfers. When the course again hosts the Nedbank Challenge from November 10-13 it will be the 40th playing of Africa's "Major."
Jaco Ackermann
04 August 2022
Gary Player CC provides a good day out during the winter months. The greens remain in good shape. The Achilles heel of the course is the bunkers, which are still problematic, albeit worth noting there have been improvements. Work needs to be done before the return of the Nedbank Challenge in November. The fairways are decent and the overall presentation is trending back to the level expected of a former No 1 course. The par 4s are varied in length, with Nos 8 and 17 two of my favourites. Also something special about playing your approach on 18 where the back right pin is a reminder of the iconic Sunday flag position at the NGC. The tournament's return will attract many fans, and hopefully they will see this bushveld gem back to its best. It needs TLC and refinement to recapture the "wow factor." Attention by Sun City to improving the overall golfing experience would go a long way to bringing it up to the standard received at other Top 20 courses.
Jon James
02 July 2022
One of my favourite courses. Played off the back tees as a championship layout it has all the credentials which has made it a global standout for many years. Last year I played it in pleasant autumn conditions. Fairways were in great condition and the greens receptive. I love the shots required around this course and the variety of tee and flag positions. Happy to drive a couple of hours to Sun City any day of the week to play here.
Chris Wood
26 January 2022

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.

Craig Gunther
25 June 2021
A true championship course that requires your A game to score close to your handicap. Each hole demands the correct placement of drive and approach shot in order to make it a playable par for most golfers. On undulating and generally fast greens two putts can be very satisfying! However, thick Kikuyu grass surrounding the greens can prove to be more than an average challenge to get up and down.
Roy Jones
18 April 2021
The Gary Player CC is always a challenge and a treat to play. The greens were running very true. The course demands accuracy and one drawback is the height of the rough around the greens and in close proximity to many fairways. In many instances you have no shot from the run-off areas and fringes. The bunkers remain a challenge, but the consistency does appear to be improving with most adequately raked and playable. The high rainfall this year has kept the course lush, with the fairways very good. The presentation and memorability factor remains high, with the walk around iconic golf holes being one for the personal memory bank.
Jon James
16 April 2021

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.

Alan Hawkins
14 April 2021
Sun City remains the top course in the country for me. There are simply no weak holes and from the back tees it is a severe test. The greens are immaculate, the fairways pristine (even in the drier winter months when the course now benefits from sufficient irrigation) and the aesthetics are classic for an African experience. The more you play here the more you come to appreciate it. My recommendation would be not to play from the club/resort tees as they shorten the course too much, even for a higher handicap. It is a championship course and the rating is adjusted in line. Even if it does play longer for most golfers, that's part of the challenge.
Chris Wood
14 January 2021

Impeccable service by professional staff as always. Golf course in good condition; just needs the first rainfall of the season.

Warren Kyle
01 October 2020

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. 

Jon James
17 March 2020
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