Elements Private Golf Reserve
Club: 6527m (7138 yards)
Ladies: 5271m (5764 yards)
Championship: 6933m (7582 yards)
One of South Africa’s top 10 courses according to Golf Digest in 2009 and 2010, and definitely one of the world’s best undiscovered gems according to all the guys on the SOS Golf Tour, Elements Private Golf Reserve is a beautiful bushveld course set in the picturesque province of Limpopo. Not counting the bumpy dirt road in to Elements, it is only a mere two or so hours from O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
This wonderful course offers the golfer, regardless of skill, the perfect balance of shot choice versus reward for risk. As you play through your round you can’t help but notice how there is a hole for every club in the bag, there is a challenge around every corner and there is joy with every step you take. It has long par 3s, coupled with short technical ones, it has short par 5s, coupled with long monstrous ones and all in a mix of short, long and technical par 4s. It is a great course for any occasion, and was a fitting finale to the 2012 & 2013 Sultans of Swing Golf Tour.
It is fitting that the two featured holes on Elements Private Golf Reserve share the same green and water hazard, because both of them offer you something so completely different, yet so much the same. The par 3 9th hole is not particularly long, playing at worst 174m. On the day we played it was a tame 123m, but it is very technical. Having to clear 110m of water between tee and the front of the green is psychologically daunting, with the green being partially an island, only allowing long shots a chance at survival, a straight tee shot is essential. Trusting in your distances and irons can mean the difference between a 5 on this par 3 and a 3. The hole is both beautiful and terrifying, but in the end, you will walk off with a smile on your face, either one of joy, or one of admittance to defeat.
This swooping downhill par 5 plays a respectable 510m from the back tee boxes, but even at 456m the day the SOS Tour played there, it is a technically perfect and beautiful hole. The fairway appears wide and inviting, but with strategic bunker placements, thick rough and uneven lies, the 18th is the perfect end to a great round of golf. Finding the fairway will give you a chance at going for the green in two, but with water in front and to the left, and deep and difficult bunkers to the right and behind, hitting the shallow, but wide green is a real bonus. Even laying up poses challenges, because, the water is always in your mind and the slightest miss hit could mean complete disaster. A 5 on this hole seems like a good score in the context of what is laid out in front of you, but a 4 is something very gettable, just as gettable as a 7 or 8.