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Serengeti (Signature)

Kempton Park - Gauteng

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COO: Dino de Abreu
Golf manager: Robert Larsen
Greenkeeper: Willie van Wardt
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 72 out of 100
Conditioning14.5 / 20
Playability14.5 / 20
Aesthetics9.6 / 15
Design Variety11.1 / 15
Shot Values11.8 / 15
Memorability10.5 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

Yellow 7096 metres, CR76.5/148
White 6246 metres, CR72.3/140
Blue 5782 metres, CR69.4/132
Red 5001 metres, CR65.3/122
Women’s blue, CR76.3/150
Women’s red, CR71.2/130

Visitor green fee

Affiliated R825 weekday, weekend R1 050
Non-affiliated R900 & R1 300
Student R320 & R510
Golf cart R500

Course designer

Jack Nicklaus 2009

Contact

011 552 7200
www.serengeti-estates.co.za

Previous ranking

44 (2023), 39 (2022) & 37 (2021)

Serengeti, with its opulent Jack Nicklaus Signature layout, is home to a large and growing residential estate which will soon have a 5-star hotel. It is conveniently situated to OR Tambo International Airport and the R21 highway with its direct links to Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The development of the 780-hectare estate has transformed a flat and featureless plain into an attractive golfing venue, famed for its outstanding conditioning. Nicklaus takes painstaking care in the look, feel and positioning of his bunkers, and at Serengeti he cultivated a naturally rugged and ragged wasteland look to balance softly undulating playing surfaces. Water hazards are a feature, although they only come into play on eight holes.

Acclaimed by Golf Digest as South Africa’s Best New Course in 2010, it’s a championship layout from the 7 096-metre back tees, and within three years of opening it was hosting the SA Open on the European Tour, where there was low scoring from the leaders. However, the club tees are friendlier at 6 246 metres, where the average golfer can best enjoy a mix of dramatic and unusual holes. Undulating greens make for an interesting challenge, and the pace of the putting surfaces is regulated as a result.

Nicklaus designed 27 holes at Serengeti, with a separate 9-hole course called Whistling Thorn. This is now a unique 18-hole championship Par 3 course. It’s a stunning creation by Dino de Abreu (recently appointed Chief Operating Officer), a part of it in among attractive wetlands. There are five different tee options, and from the pro tees it measures 3268 metres, or an average of 182 metres per hole. The middle blue tees are a more manageable 2514 metres (average 140 metres). Two or three holes resemble short par 4s from the back, and each nine has a really short par 3.

Golf carts are compulsory on both courses.

Read: A PAR-3 STUNNER AT SERENGETI ESTATES

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

61 by Kyle McClatchie in January 2015 (29-32)
62 by Hennie Otto in 2012 SA Open final round (31-31) with 8 birdies and eagle at 8.
62 by Gerhard Pepler on April 14, 2024 in Tour Championship final round (34-28) with 9 birdies and eagle two at 17.
63 by Caitlyn Macnab (women’s record) in 2019

Feature Holes

The eighth is a talked-about risk-and-reward par 5, with water right of the fairway, and an island green. That’s followed by a superb long par 3. The back nine has some beautiful water features, and a terrific stretch of holes from the par-3 12th to par-5 16th.

Practice Facility

Serengeti has one of the best practice facilities in the country, having a long, wide range with target greens conveniently set next to the clubhouse. It is home to the Wanna Be A Champion Golf & Fitness Academy headed up by teaching professional Doug Wood and fitness guru Garth Milne. There is a gym in the clubhouse. They also have academies at Fancourt and Woodhill. Each offer latest swing analysis and putting aid technology. Serengeti has the only registered AimPoint instructor in South Africa in Sandra van der Berg.

Club Champions

2023 Marno Lange & Logan Horn
2022 Burt Gildenhuys & Tayla Potgieter
2021 Christiaan Burke & Kiera Floyd
2020 Caitlyn Macnab & Nadia van der Westhuizen
2019 Ryan Joyce & Caitlyn Macnab

Did You Know

1/ The SA Open was hosted by Serengeti in 2011 and 2012 when it moved to Ekurhuleni. Hennie Otto, who grew up in nearby Boksburg, won in 2011 with 14-under 274, with former Sunshine Tour pro Dean van Staden (ERPM) as his caddie. The 2012 Open went to Henrik Stenson on 271 by three from George Coetzee, who had a 63 in the third round. Stenson employed a Soweto caddie, Solomon Soli.

2/ Hennie Otto equalled the SA Open scoring record with a 62 (one eagle, 8 birdies) in the 2012 final round.

3/ Serengeti hosts the Sunshine Tour’s limited field end-of-season Tour Championship. The title was won by Darren Fichardt in 2018 (271), Jean-Paul Strydom in 2019 (274), Garrick Higgo in 2020 (269), Tristen Strydom in 2022 (267), Jaco Ahlers in 2023 (271), Jonathan Broomhead in 2024 (272). Lowest round a 62 by Gerhard Pepler in 2024.

4/ Club member Caitlyn Macnab made history in 2020 when she entered and won the men’s club championship from the gold tees, believed to be a first in South Africa. Caitlyn shot 74-71 to win by two from John Ferreira. Serengeti’s Kiera Floyd won the 2022 SA women’s strokeplay title.

5/ The third hole is one of the longest in Gauteng, 619 metres, and played to a 4.97 average in the SA Open, with just 3 eagles. The 16th is 574 metres.

6/ Serengeti offers members and residents a 9-hole mashie course with holes of about 50 metres. And there is a “fun” putting course close to the clubhouse.

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Course Reviews
Serengeti has hosted the Sunshine Tour's end-of-season Tour Championship since 2018, a great venue to conclude the year, one of the more challenging the pros play. It has produced young champions, notably Garrick Higgo in 2020 (age 20), and now Jonathan Broomhead age 23. Serengeti's par 5s are a tough quartet even for the longer hitters, so birdies are far from automatic, particularly at the lengthy third and 16th. And No 8 has its distinctive island green which calls for brave second shots. Nonetheless it yielded 10 eagles. The hole which conceded the most birdies (88) was the short par-4 third (349m) even with its tiny green. There were three eagles there, and at No 17, where the tee was moved up the final day. Ryan van Velzen narrowly missed holing out for an ace. However, neither of these short 4s have much of a risk factor. Easy to plunder.
Thomas Souness
15 April 2024
The Signature is an underrated course in terms of its ranking and this is a first-class facility. The tee boxes are among the flattest and most immaculate I have seen. Maybe not the bent grass you get at Steyn City but just as well maintained. A feature of playing here is the wide expanse of fairways and bunkers. In most cases the bunkers provide a visual spectacle rather than a playability factor. It did play long in wet conditions though, taking away the linksy feel the course is modelled towards. At halfway house, order the pork belly roll and you will not regret it.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
20 February 2024
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Serengeti and Pearl Valley are the only two Jack Nicklaus courses to have hosted the SA Open. Both have true championship credentials and are uncannily similar in the challenges they present, and I don’t mean the proliferation of bunkers. What they have in common are tough holes with greens guarded by water. At Serengeti you find them at three tricky par 4s (6-14-18), the par-5 16th and long par-3 ninth. Did you know that the first ace on the course was scored here in 2010, by Blue Bulls and Springbok rugby legend Burger Geldenhuys. There’s a plaque on the tee. It’s a course where if you don’t have power off the tee you must play forward to avoid perilous long approach shots into narrow entrances. The Signature plays longer than the card indicates with its carpeted kikuyu fairways, and there’s usually a breeze, which on a hot day brings delightful relief but can increase the challenge.
Stuart McLean
17 February 2024
What a layout, and in great condition. Bunkers a little iffy and inconsistent but couldn't find much else to criticise.
Sandor Kovacs
01 February 2024
A pleasure playing the Signature. Tees the best I have seen them. You can even practice your putting on those tees. You get the sense that the course is encouraging you to hit a good tee shot. The only let down were the long and patchy fairways. Halfway house good, and staff clean your clubs while you have your break.
Ignis van der Merwe
21 November 2023
Serengeti is a large residential estate and its Signature Course meanders around a large tract of land where you don't feel encroachment from the homes. Great design variety with several risk-and-reward par 4s -- the second a good example -- mixed with brutish length and challenging bunkers. The signature par-5 eighth with its island green is a highlight. The back nine holes from 13 to 18 are fun to play with water hazards and mega-bunkers ever present. The greens complexes, in excellent shape, test the flat stick and three-putt avoidance is key to a good score. Serengeti's bunkers are an ever-present threat, although in disappointing condition, poor from a consistency and playability perspective. In contrast, facilities and service are excellent. Guest services, locker room and 19th hole top-notch.
Jon James
13 October 2023
The Serengeti Estate and Golf Course is located on some agricultural land in the Bapsfontein area. For this reason the Jack Nicklaus design finds itself in the top 40 and not the top 10! But take my word for it this is an impressive layout and easily the best run facility in SA. Every staff member is committed to making you feel welcome and ensuring your experience is unforgettable (which it is). To top it all off they have an island green hole (par-5 eighth) as good as the Par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass. I can now confirm that while it’s entertaining seeing the pros hit their balls in the water, so painful when it’s your own. I recommend a visit and a promotion up the rankings.
George Raubenheimer
18 April 2022
The Signature at Serengeti is a varied and challenging Nicklaus design. The course is in excellent condition, with some of the best fairways and tee boxes in Gauteng. The Signature is set apart from other Highveld courses by its many bunkers and sloping greens. Some are not easy to read. The par-5 eighth has an island green and usually can be reached in two. Another good eagle opportunity comes on the driveable par-4 17th, and I made an eagle putt from the front edge which was a highlight of my round. The service is generally of a high standard at Serengeti and I enjoy the personal touches like the complimentary beverage after you finish. For all the positives, though, it is clear that Serengeti has difficulty controlling the pace of play and etiquette. Being a frequent golf day venue it is not uncommon to suffer slow rounds. We took more than 6 hours including halfway. It may be necessary to consider altering the tee boxes for corporate days as the course is too long and challenging for most club golfers. Or reducing the number of tee times to accommodate the tedious pace of play. This would improve the overall experience.
Jon James
08 January 2022
The Signature Course at Serengeti is one of a handful of "different" golf experiences in Gauteng, far removed from the conventional parkland layouts that abound in the region. It's a difficult course to classify, because it has a bit of everything to it, including a brilliant island green a la TPC Sawgrass, except this one is on a par 5. Water is a theme on the back nine where three excellent closing holes from 14 to 16 (par 4, par 3, par 5) circle around a lake and ramp up the risk-and-reward options. The striking aspect of Serengeti is the Nicklaus greens and bunkering, presented both attractively and challengingly. An infinite variety of memorable holes, and generous landing areas off the tee, make for a terrific 18 holes whatever your handicap.
Stuart McLean
24 April 2021
Excellent all round experience. Brilliant condition, always challenging set-up typical of Jack Nicklaus, and a pleasure to play. One of a few clubs where facilities and service match the golf experience.
Darren Scott
14 February 2021
I personally love being out at Serengeti Estate. There is so much to do here. Being a professional golfer I get to see courses around the world, and Serengeti ranks amongst the best.
Lejan Lewthwaite
14 February 2021
A premier golfing experience. Three world-class golf courses, the best and most extensive practice facilities in the country, and a variety of restaurants and culinary options. Where else can you choose to have sushi at halfway?
Mark Renwick
13 February 2021
Good experience. Staff are friendly and helpful. F&B prices are reasonable value for money.
Craig Bell
13 February 2021
This golf course is in a class of its own. Always a unique and fantastic experience and it's a great challenge. Fortunate to have a course like this in Johannesburg.
kyle lucas
13 February 2021
Your golfing experience starts at the bag drop area. Clubs are removed from the boot with a friendly greeting and you can rest assured that your bag will be found on the correct cart, with your details displayed. The course is tough, make no mistake, but the superb condition and amazing views erase any negativity you might have.
Alan Ford
12 February 2021
The attitude of all the staff is fantastic. The golf course is in superb condition. The greens are very challenging. A real gem to play.
Colin Weinstein
12 February 2021
The course was in good condition and the pace of play was perfect.
Attie van der Linde
12 February 2021
Serengeti has been consistent through the past year. The layout is a good test and the various tee boxes allow all levels of golfers to be suitably challenged. Serengeti has improved its forward (Blue) tees from previous years. They were often too far forward and adjacent to the Red tees in some cases. Service and friendliness of staff is excellent.
Ponky Firer
05 February 2021

The cool season grass on the fairways has been taken over by kikuyu, so the fairways are patchy and ugly. The greens are okay at times. Bunkers are in poor condition; some have sand and some not. There is no control of pace of play. Halfway house is okay, yet expensive.

Byron Price
21 January 2021
Definition of excellence in quality, service, layout and conditioning, no matter what time of year you play.
Sandor Kovacs
16 April 2020
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