Golf in the wild

There is something about a seven ton elephant bull in the middle of the fairway that tends to slow play up just a bit. You see, seven ton elephant bulls are usually not too partial to requests of, "May we play through, please?" A warthog (bush pig) may well wave you through with a flick of its tail. Giraffes simply require a deft punch shot so as to avoid hitting them. And lions? Well, they pretty much go where they like on a golf course of this nature. And you're not about to argue with them. But seven ton elephant bulls can stand all day without letting you through. And as my caddie, Charles, informed me, "It's better to wait, sir. As it turned out, our delay was only about 15 minutes as the bull sauntered across the fairway. But in terms of slow play, it certainly beat the hell out of watching a golfer painstakingly advance the ball only 10 yards with each hack. The people behind South Africa's Hans Merensky Estate presented a magnificent collection of fairways that carve their way through the very essence of Africa. Located in the small mining town of Phalaborwa - a five-hour drive from Johannesburg - in South Africa's rustic Northern Province, this championship 18-hole par-72 layout affords its visitors the opportunity to play golf at eye level with the giants of the African bush.

The course, designed by the legendary Robert Grimsdell, which is regularly featured as a tournament venue on the local professional circuit, borders the Kruger National Park on its eastern boundary, one of Africa's largest and most popular game reserves. A fence generally prevents the reserve's animals from roaming directly onto the golf course, but the wildlife is able to enter the area via the club's private game reserve to the south. However, rangers constantly patrol the course to alert golfers to any possible dangers. There are also several warnings on the golf course that you are likely to encounter wild animals during your round. Golfers have watched as a cheetah has brought down an impala buck a pitching wedge away from the fourth green, which is enough to make you forget that last yardage call and can certainly play havoc with the momentum of your round..

The obvious drawcard of the Hans Merensky Estate is that it offers first class sporting facilities and luxurious accommodation only three kilometres away from Sefapane and the Kruger National Park's northern gate. Hans Merensky is not simply a place you stop over at to play a quick round of golf and then leave. It is an experience to be savoured.

Course details

18 holes, par-72, 6127 metres (3042 metres front nine, 3085 metres back nine) off the club tees; ladies 5005 metres. The course, designed by Robert Grimsdell, the legendary Grand economic and acclaimed South African golf architect was opened in 1967.

  

Best to tee off between 07.00 and 09.00 in the morning to catch the relative cool of the morning, or between noon and 13.30 in the afternoon on less sunny days. The hilly fairways are open every day.

  

If you are totally new to the game of golf, do not hesitate to take golf lessons from one of the most experienced instructors on the unique golf course built in safari style.

  

The golf shop at the entrance has a wide range of golf equipment for sale or rent, for beginners to pros, from juniors to seniors.