The East London Golf Course features a unique natural course layout, measuring 6,163m for the tournament. The course meanders through coastal dunes and dense, indigenous bush. The host of six South African Opens, the course is enhanced by striking natural scenery overlooking the Indian Ocean and offers breathtaking views of the sea and Nahoon Reef, a world-famous surfing spot.
The course requires stamina and accuracy from players, who must contend with steep climbs up and down the dunes and more often than not, contend with a fierce wind whistling through the valleys.
The East London Golf Club has retained – over the years – a position of high recognition as one of the best Championship courses in South Africa. The Club and course has played host to the SA Open six times and is a regular home for National and Regional Championships, Seniors and Nomads Tournaments, as well as being the home to the Africa Open for the last two years.
Hole 1: Par 5, 425 metres Â The Downs
A 100 metre walk, gently downhill from the clubhouse leads to the first tee. In the distance can be seen the 1st Green, uphill from the fairway. This hole can be tough against the wind from the sea, or, reachable in two with a following wind. The green is well bunkered and has a sloping putting surface. A wide and welcoming fairway sets you up for the challenges ahead. Take your time and savour the journey.
Hole 2: Par 3, 161 metres Â The Drop
An uphill walk from the 1st green, through a tunnel of coastal bush opens out at the 2nd Tee atop a ridge. Way below is the striking vista of the 2nd green and the sea behind. One of the feature holes of the course and remembered by all who play it. The green is surrounded by five bunkers and appears a postage stamp from afar.
Hole 3: Par 5, 450 metres Â The Valley
A narrow valley fairway with bush on either side. Like the first, the wind plays an important role. A tiger against, but withÂ .a birdie beckons. Beautiful turf and a feeling of peace away from the world.
Hole 4: Par 4, 330 metres – Eden
Follows the same direction as the third, with the tee set well back through a narrow avenue of bush. The rolling fairway leads to a green surrounded by steep banks, bunkers and bush.
Hole 5: Par 4, 267 metres – Grampians
An unusual short par four with a humpback fairway. It is uphill all the way for 250 metres without a view of the green. Once over the brow of the hill its then sharply downhill to the green. If you have not reached the hilltop with your drive, it will be a blind second shot. If your straight drive gets over the hilltop it may then roll right down to the green. Bush on both sides from tee to green. A visually entertaining hole with sea views from behind and in front.
Hole 6: Par 4, 282 metres Â The Basin
From the tee, lovely views of the course, local area and coastline. A drivable hole with the right wind as it slopes down to the well bunkered green.
Hole 7: Par 4, 340 metres Â Westward Ho!
The tee is set high up in the bush and the fairway runs parallel to the first, but in the opposite direction back towards the clubhouse. This time you are playing away from the sea so, as always, wind may play a major factor. The green is protected by four bunkers.
Hole 8: Par 4, 350 metres Â The Glen
An excellent short par four which dog-legs to the right. Play for position with your drive to give a short iron to the long, narrow and bunkered green.
Hole 9: Par 4, 425 metres Â The Glades
A challenging stroke one hole. A walk through a 50 metre tunnel of bush brings you to the 9th Tee and a classic, tough golf hole. An elevated tee position encourages a big drive, needed to carry the hill in the fairway down into a valley. A long, accurate second will be needed to find the narrow green between three bunkers.
Hole 10: Par 3, 166 metres Â Over the Top
Another elevated tee looks away through the bush to the distant green. A mid-iron should reach the target depending on wind direction. The green is protected by four bunkers.
Hole 11: Par 5, 462 metres Â Carry On
After sustenance at the halfway house, the wide fairway of the 11th appears inviting. Often played downwind, the high banked left side of the fairway helps send golf balls back down to the centre. To the right of the fairway is a long copse of high pine and gum trees. A large green and surround area allows opportunity to birdie this hole.
Hole 12: Par 4, 392 metres – Armchair
From the raised tee, the fairway slopes down and away to the left, dropping to a valley. Then, it is up steeply for 100 metres to where the green is on a plateau. Stop here awhile and enjoy the wonderful sea views of waves, beach, and the East London Esplanade.
Hole 13: Par 4, 301 metres Â Blind River
In reverse direction from the 12th, this hole plays as a slight dog-leg to the right to an elevated green which is protected by two bunkers. Accuracy off the tee is important to avoid the two fairway bunkers on the left and the trees on the right. Looking back from the green provides scenic views.
Hole 14: Par 4, 397 metres Â The Terrace
A tough stroke 2 hole with an out of bounds fence on the left , trees lining the right side and a driveable fairway bunker. The fairway is much wider and flatter than most on the course, but two good, long and straight shots are needed to reach the green. Beware the five greenside bunkers.
Hole 15: Par 4, 472 metres Â The Hillside
Following on in the same direction as the 14th, the fairway starts gently uphill for the first 250 metres. Both holes 14 and 15 have more of a parkland feel with flatter terrain. Into the wind they require well struck golf shots to carry the distance. The putting surfaces are excellent after avoiding the bunkers.
Hole 16: Par 4, 292 metres Â The Meadows
One of the shortest pars four on the course goes back alongside the 15th. With a following wind and a perfectly struck shot the green is reachable. However you need to be accurate in order to avoid the five bunkers that protect the hole. Into a headwind the playing of this hole is a different proposition altogether.
Hole 17: Par 3, 150 metres Â Broken Hill
From the top tee, a wonderful scene is laid out before you. Beyond the dauntingly tiny green is the 9th hole, distant green coastline and sea spray. With the tee shot, avoid bunkers and find the green with a short iron or wedge.
Hole 18: Par 4, 376 metres Â Nahoon View
A special final hole with a blind tee shot over the brow of the first part of the fairway. Once you have walked to the top to see where your ball went, you will find the fairway sharply descending in a right to left crescent, with the clubhouse overlooking the scene from above. At the bottom of the downhill walk, the green awaits with bunkers and a steep bank falling away at the back.
A finishing hole full of character befitting a golf course of championship standing.