This was my first trip to South Africa playing some of the top courses and of course Leopard Creek had to be a part of it. I stayed at one of the preferred hotels that can book tee times and it was pretty straight forward and easy to get tee times when I visited in the month of May. I have watched the tournaments several times and was looking forward to playing the course.
It is located right across next to the river running across from Kruger National Park and close to the Malelane gate entrance. I visited the Kruger National Park on a one day self-drive excursion. It was a fantastic experience and can be recommended.
I had an 11.30 tee time and arrived a couple of hours before to make the most of it.
They have a new practice facility located at the back of the course. It is a couple of minutes’ drive by buggy and a really nice facility. It is a huge area with several chipping greens and a large driving range with several greens and targets to practice towards. Definitely a top-class facility they have created.
The opening hole is a slight dogleg left pretty straight forward at 296m. I hit a good drive into the fairway and had a short pitch to the green. A good opening par after 2 putts.
I hit my drive wide left onto the 3rd fairway, but not really a problem.
2nd green where I had a decent birdie opportunity, but was missed.
3rd I missed my drive left and had to lay up short of the green which resulted in a bogey.
The first holes are pretty forgiving and you can get away with inaccurate shots as I experienced, however this would not be case moving forward as you will notice.
4th hole is almost 90-degree dogleg right to left. It is a good course management hole and pending on your game/confidence level you can drive left or directly over the bunker. I opted for the aggressive line and hit a good drive left of the bunker and had a short pitch to the green, made par.
5th hole a great par 3 with water in play which I found on my first ball. I played all par 3s miserably, mainly due to me playing poorly and of course the water didn’t help on 3 out of 4 of them.
6th hole is another short par 4 dogleg right to left with bunkers in play. I opted for hitting a 3 wood over the bunker which resulted in a very short pitch to the green. I liked these pars 4s where you have the choice of playing safe or going for the green.
7th was another disastrous par 3 for me with the first ball in the water. However, a good par 3 where you need to hit a very good shot to get a good score.
Above looking back down the hardest hole on the course 415m par 4. I went into the bunker from the tee and had to lay up resulting in a bogey.
9th and 18th hole both run down towards the clubhouse and are some fantastic holes. The 9th is a par 413 par 4, but downhill so playing shorter. I hit my tee shot in the righthand rough, but was on the green in two and with 2 putts a par and front 9 in 41 shots. I didnt play my best golf at all and only hit 1 fairway on the front 9.
After the first 9 you go to the terrace back of the clubhouse to have lunch as pictured below.
10th hole an uphill par 4 playing 361m. Relatively straightforward opening hole to the back 9.
11th hole a short uphill par 4 with a deceptive view from the tee. The overhanging trees makes it look narrower than it is. I hit my 3 wood over the middle bunker and left myself a 70m pitch.
I saw a few animals on the course a managed to get a picture of this which I believe is an antelop
12th a long par 3 playing 202 meters downhill. A good looking hole with the Kruger Park in the background. I lost my first ball OB on the right and another double bogey on a par 3.
13th was one of my favourites holes on the course. A 500m par 5, so not reachable in two for me. I hit a solid drive into the fairway and a hybrid up to a 114m wedge to the green.
The green has the best views on the Kruger park and I went to the back of the green and saw Rhinos and crocodiles in the river…..stunning!!
15th another really good hole where you stand elevated and have fantastic views. Above is from the back tees and a pretty intimidating target in the distance.
Above video with view from 15th tee
A hit a poor tee shot and had to pitch out on the fairway. I couldn’t reach the green so had to lay up which resulted in a bogey on the scorecard.
16th a really tough par 3 playing 180 into the wind. As with the rest of the par 3s it wasnt my day and I hit a ball in the water right of the green.
17th a slight uphill par 4 playing 381m into the wind. I hit a good drive, but went into the bunker on my second shot and made bogey.
18th a good finishing hole. I remember watching this hole on tour and even though it is reachable in two if you hit a good drive, it is a difficult target being an island green. But that it also part of why this hole is a good finish. I didn’t hit a very drive and had a bit too far to reach the green so a 7-iron lay up and a finishing par. Checkout video below from 18th fairway running down towards the clubhouse.
The clubhouse looks stunning from here. I finished in 85 shots with a 44 on the back nine. I had not played well and was disappointed, but that is golf sometimes. I went for a drink and they served a little complimentary snack. After the drink, I went back on the range for a couple of hours to try to get the swing back in some sort of improved condition. Felt better, but lets see next time I play.
The course was very quiet which made for a pleasant day to experience it all. The condition of the course was very good and I really liked the greens. They were receptive and had good roll to them at the same time. The whole experience of visiting Leopard Creek was great. The service was very good and everybody was friendly and welcoming. They come a pick you up at your car in a bogey and return again with you upon departure. It had a drink after my practice session in the bar. When trying to pay, the waiter said it was on the house. It is small things, but just helps make the experience a bit better.