A countdown has begun to the announcement of the new SA Top 100 Course rankings in the last week of January 2021.
It will be the first new rankings to be published in almost three years since the March 2018 issue of Golf Digest magazine.
A new innovation will be the manner in which the Top 100 is announced during the week of January 25 to 29 on social media and this website.
The Top 100 rankings will not be announced all at once, but in stages in order to give each course its own prominence. On each of the five days that week, from Monday to Friday, there will be a countdown of 20 clubs, starting at No 100 on the Monday and concluding with No 1 on the Friday.
With Leopard Creek, a former No 1 layout, returning to the rankings in 2021 following major changes in terms of its redesign and returfing, there promises to be a shake-up of the Top 10. Other courses currently outside the Top 10 making a case for inclusion at the expense of the current incumbents are Blair Atholl, George, Humewood and Highland Gate.
Highland Gate, the scenically spectacular Ernie Els design in Mpumalanga, Blair Atholl, a Gary Player masterpiece in Gauteng, and the classic Humewood links in Port Elizabeth are all currently ranked as having the Top 10 Best Greens in the country.
Conditioning, one of six criteria on which the courses are ranked, now makes up 20% of the total mark of 100 points. Greens alone are worth a maximum of 10 points, Fairways and Tees make up 4 points, Bunkers 4 points, and General Presentation 2 points. This is a dynamic rating, so every club can instantly see where they rate in terms of Conditioning.
A new innovation in terms of the rating criteria is that every golfer, local or foreign, who plays our courses, can take part in measuring the Conditioning of courses. All it requires is to go to the home page of the course you have played, and scroll down to Submit your Review & Ratings. Comments can be made about the course, before ticking off a score between 1 and 5 on the quality of the Greens, Tees, Fairways, Bunkers and General Presentation.
Already more than a thousand ratings have been posted throughout 2020 for 120 courses, and the results of each of these 5 categories can be viewed on the site.
Two courses from the 2018 Golf Digest rankings are no longer open for play. Legend, in Limpopo, together with its Extreme 19th Hole where you teed off from the top of a mountain, closed last year, while Vaal de Grace in the Free State has not re-opened since lockdown. Legend was replaced at No 100 in the Golf Digest rankings by Knysna Golf Club in the SA Top 100, while Vaal de Grace (No 63) remains for the time being.
Another course, Beachwood (No 41) in Durban, was due to have closed in October, but has been given a reprieve. However, it is no longer the second course of Durban Country Club but a separate entity, as it was 25 years ago before being acquired by DCC.
Golfers can also rate 8 Facilities at each course on this website.
While these do not count towards the evaluation of the Top 100, it does showcase them in terms of Pace of Play, Halfway House, Pro Shop, Practice Range, Service, Locker Room, Course Etiquette and 19th Hole.
The ratings so far indicate that if you want the best Halfway House experience in South Africa, then visit Country Club Johannesburg and Blair Atholl in Gauteng, both ranked 5-star in this department. CCJ also has the best locker rooms, Serengeti the best 19th hole, and Southbroom the best pro shop.
The SA Top 100 Courses rankings will be updated annually going forward.