Four courses – Reading, Eagle Canyon, Centurion and The Woods at Mount Edgecombe – have been significant movers upwards for a second consecutive year on the Top 100 rankings following today’s announcement of the courses ranked 80 to 61.
It’s interesting to see where these four courses have come from since the SA Top 100 Courses website was launched in 2019.
Reading has made the biggest climb of any club. The challenging tree-lined Alberton layout was languishing at No 99, and has moved up 22 places to No 77 in the latest rankings. This is a remarkably fast elevation in status, but Reading does have pedigree. It has previously been as high as No 70. Design Variety is strong, undulating in areas, and the course has a collection of demanding and interesting holes and greens complexes, plus one of the more eccentric holes in Gauteng.
The par-4 16th has an acute dogleg right fairway to avoid the wall of a housing estate on its boundary fence. With a forest of tall trees on the right side of the fairway, golfers have no option other than to lay up and then play longer seconds to the green. And on the par-4 sixth golfers must take into account electricity wires hanging high over the green from a pylon. If your ball touches them you get to replay the shot.
Eagle Canyon, another Gauteng course, has moved from No 95 to No 78 in the same space of time, a jump of 17 places. Eagle Canyon opened for play in 2005, but it took more than 10 years of improvements to its playability to finally crack the Top 100 for the first time in 2016. Its conditioning has also vastly improved over time.
Built inside an old quarry, this Douw van der Merwe design is radically different from the typical parkland layouts in the region, with a host of unusual holes due to the uneven nature of the terrain. Water often comes into play and it’s a course where the errant golfer can lose a bunch of balls. Not for the faint-hearted therefore, particularly when standing on the tee of the fourth, one of the most daunting par 3s in Gauteng, with water to be carried all the way to a raised green.
A highlight of visiting Eagle Canyon is being able to look out from the height of the clubhouse deck over the entire array of back nine holes.
The Woods, part of the 36-hole Mount Edgecombe residential estate in Umhlanga, KZN, is up to No 62, a shift of 13 places from its position of No 75 two years ago. The Woods, maintained by the Matkovich Group under the supervision of Larry Sogoni and Mike Wallington, has become one of the best conditioned coastal courses in the region in the last few years. Golf director Kevin Stone’s input has also made a difference to its presentation.
Centurion, another estate layout, has moved 10 places in the right direction in the past two years, from No 83 to No 73. That move might have been higher had it not been for the awful flooding the course has suffered on a few occasions in that time. The Hennops River turns and twists through three Gauteng North courses, Irene, Centurion and Zwartkop, and the expensive damage and mess left behind after big rains has been frightful.
Centurion experimented for three years with a change of finishing holes, playing the original eighth and ninth (a short par 4) as 17 and 18. The club have now reverted to the original 17 and 18, meaning that you close the round with a proper long par 4 guarded by water. It is one of only two Peter Matkovich layouts in the Top 100 that ends with a long par 4 rather than the par 5s or short par 4s he favours. The other long par 4 finishing hole is at Woodhill.
Milnerton Golf Club in Cape Town, a links-like layout on the shoreline in Table Bay, built on a narrow stretch of land between the ocean and an inland lagoon, has moved to No 80, its highest position on the rankings since it placed at No 77 in 2005. Milnerton is at its best in the less windy autumn and winter months, blessed with spectacular views.
Sliding backwards in the rankings is Beachwood in Durban, now a pay-and-play facility after being sold to developers by Durban CC a few years back. It remains one of the best designs in the region, so it’s good to see it still open for play. But it is down 13 places to No 66.
Two Gauteng layouts also declined. Randpark Bushwillow was down 9 places to No 72, and Glenvista slipped 7 places to No 79.
UP IN THE RANKINGS
Milnerton, up 6 from 86 to 80
Eagle Canyon, up 5 from 83 to 78
Reading, up 11 from 88 to 77
Paarl, up 6 from 82 to 76
Centurion, up 4 from 77 to 73
Ruimsig, up 2 from 73 to 71
Dainfern, up 6 from 75 to 69
Atlantic Beach, up 1 from 69 to 68
Silver Lakes, up 3 from 68 to 65
Zebula, up 3 from 67 to 64
The Woods at MECC, up 4 from 66 to 62
Stellenbosch, no change at 61
DOWN IN THE RANKINGS
Glenvista, down 7 from 72 to 79
Westlake, down 1 from 74 to 75
Krugersdorp, down 1 from 73 to 74
Randpark Bushwillow, down 9 from 63 to 72
Umhlali, down 5 from 65 to 70
Irene, down 3 from 64 to 67
Beachwood, down 13 from 53 to 66
San Lameer, down 6 from 57 to 63
View today’s rankings here: https://satop100courses.com/