Big positional swings are a feature of the new Top 100 rankings, and that’s plainly evident among the clubs revealed on the second day of Rankings Week today. We announce those ranked from No 80 to No 61.
Five courses have fallen more than 10 places on the rankings in this category, while there are significant climbs from others.
The most improved course today is The Woods at Mount Edgecombe, which moves up 9 places from No 75 to No 66. Yesterday there was good news for the Umhlanga golf estate in KZN with their second course, The Lakes, re-entering the Top 100 at No 98.
The Woods, a course which ranked No 20 in the very first Golf Digest rankings in 1998 when it was known as MECC No 1, had fallen to its worst-ever ranking of No 75 in 2018. Members were not enjoying the inconsistent paspalum greens and the general condition was varied.
Move forward three years and the greens have been transformed into beautiful putting surfaces due to the regular overseeding of bent grass with the paspalum. Thanks to the efforts of course superintendent Larry Sogoni, from Matko Turf, and the assistance of new golf director Kevin Stone, appointed late last year, The Woods hasn’t looked this good in decades. Sogoni, his staff, and Stone have presented a course which is superbly defined from tee to green.
The Woods also underwent a re-routing change in recent years when the original par-5 fifth place had to be reduced to a par 3 for safety concerns. That hole is now the seventh on the revised layout. The course par changed to 70, and the re-routing was done to balance out the two nines in terms of length.
Glenvista, something of a hidden gem in the southern suburbs of Johannesburg, with many attractive holes, climbed 9 places to No 72 on the back of producing some of the best quality greens in Gauteng. They were outstanding last year, and scored 8.25/10 in Conditioning marks, which put it No 4 in the province in Top-Rated Greens, only trailing Blair Atholl, Randpark Firethorn and RJK East.
The Wanderers in Johannesburg and Centurion, close to Pretoria, were other Gauteng courses moving up, The Wanderers 7 places to No 62, and Centurion 6 places to No 77. Centurion did particularly well to recover their course from periodical flooding by the Hennops River.
The Wanderers is going ahead this decade with a R2-billion development with Investec Property which will entail the loss of the par-4 ninth hole. A new clubhouse will be constructed and the course will be altered and upgraded.
RUIMSIG AND IRENE FALL BACK
Major falls on the rankings were recorded by Ruimsig, the Gary Player layout in the West Rand, which slipped 20 places to No 73, and Irene CC in Gauteng North, down 21 places to No 64. Both courses were severely marked down by raters, Ruimsig for General Conditioning, and Irene for Aesthetics and Playability.
The Hennops River flowing through Irene has been a major issue for the country club, prone as it is to flooding after heavy rain, and also the accumulated deposit of unsightly refuse from upstream.
In December 2019 a devastating flood overflowed across the fairways, greens and the club’s cricket field. All 18 greens were damaged due to lack of irrigation after the club pumphouse was disabled, and they needed major repair work. The course only re-opened in June last year.
One of the feature holes, the short par-4 15th, lost a bridge connecting the tee on the other bank of the river. That bridge has still not been fixed, requiring golfers to play the hole from a forward tee which not only immeasurably weakens the hole but also brings the 16th tee into play from wayward drives off 15, threatening golfers.
The biggest issue at Irene which raters disliked was the bad smell coming from the river and the refuse lying on the banks, particularly on the par-5 second hole. They felt the Aesthetics of a beautiful parkland layout had been seriously compromised by the club’s apparent reluctance to deal with this. It isn’t a recent problem.
Dainfern, one of the country’s biggest residential estates, saw its Gary Player design fall 11 places to No 75, while King David Mowbray in Cape Town moved back 10 places to No 80.
View today’s rankings here: