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Pearl Valley Golf Estates (Paarl, South Africa)
Year built: 2003
Designer: Jack Nicklaus
Contacts: +27 21 867 8000
Fax: +27 21 867 0767
Address: R301, Wemmershoek Road, 7690 Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa
Quick facts: 18 holes, shop, restaurant.
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Traversed by roads in only three places, with a state-of-the-art drainage system in place that allows play to continue just minutes after a severe down pour, the course is truly in a league of its own.
To meet the ‘Golden Bear’s’ uncompromising standards of golf course design and aesthetic beauty, a combination of the deep, lush green on the fairways and greens, together with the brilliant white river sand lining the bunkers was carefully planned to make Pearl Valley Golf Estates the most visually spectacular golf course in the country and arguably the world. The total length of course is 6801 metres from the Championship tees, whereas the members’ length ranges from 4685 to 5876 metres. Bunkers on Nicklaus’s signature courses are renowned for being shallow, long and relatively undaunting.
Every hole is played against the spectacular backdrop of the mountains surrounding the estate and all are challenging due to the startegically set bunkers and fast greens. The prevailing winds throughout the area have also been taken into consideration with the course design; the winter being northwesterly and the summer wind from a southeasterly direction. All par 3s and par 5s play in different directions, ensuring that the same conditions are seldom experienced during a round.
The 4th hole, par 3, is the ‘Signature’ hole of the course and perhaps the most scenic. The water cuts from the right and a greenside bunker awaits the cautious tee shot. This hole tests both your ball stroking and your nerve.
Hole 13 is also challenging with no room for error as you need to cross the creek three times on route to the green. This par 5 is listed as one of the best 18 holes in South Africa, a real ‘risk and reward’ classic!
On the 17th hole you might consider using a rescue wood or iron off this tee, but the closer you get to the green the better. Bunkers, as with all holes are difficult. There is a bunker on the left and water on the right for the tee shot. Your second shot requires pin-point accuracy to hit over the water and onto the green.
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