Pearl Valley – Stuart McLean

Published by : Stuart McLean - 09 January 2022

Shot Values is one of the six criteria on which courses are rated, and Pearl Valley ranks second in South Africa in this category behind the Gary Player CC. Shot Values examines how varied the risk-and-reward holes are on a course and Pearl Valley excels at mixing up those risks, whether it’s flirting with bunkers or water or missing a green in the wrong place going for a tight pin. And it has a quartet of interesting and variable par 5s (462, 504, 498 and 450 from the yellow tees) which may entice the longer hitter into taking on bold second shots in search of birdies. Only one, the imaginatively designed fourth, has water close to the green. The 14th has an enormous tree in the middle of the fairway to be avoided off the tee. Anything right of the tree means a long carry over sand to find the putting surface. Virtually every hole on the course offers alternative strategies in the way it can be played, and a thoughtless shot can leave you in awkward situations. And Pearl Valley in the main does not over-emphasise length, something seen as a weakness. Saying that, however, like many modern designs it does not have a short par 3 (other than off the red tees), and three of the four play to a similar yardage. A rare flaw in an otherwise superb layout.

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