Royal Swazi Spa

The Royal Swazi’s spectacular 18-hole championship golf course is one of the most scenic locations found anywhere in the world.

The sweeping par-72 course is played on the championship tees to a length of 6,140 metres. It has been laid out on the slopes of the Lebombo Range which curve down into the Ezulwini Valley where a complex of hotels and a casino are situated. The first nine holes are comparatively level, and the second nine fully exploit the terrain.

Greens and fairways are in excellent condition and all the greens have been planted with Durban Country Club grass. This grass provides a thinner and therefore faster putting surface, and all meet PGA standards.

The fairways are planted with hardy Kikuyu, which stands up well to constant use and remains relatively green throughout the year.

Challenging features on the golf course include lakes, out-of-bounds areas, gullies thick with vegetation, wickedly sited bunkers, swirling breezes and clusters of magnificent trees and indigenous plants.

Pivotal hole: 12th
Length: 461 metres (504 yards)

The par-fives on the course are pivotal in any good round, and with only one on the Royal Swazi Spa Country Club golf course stretching to over 500 metres – the 502-metre 17th – the professionals can get on the green in two on all of them.

And the winner in the Sunshine Tour event in May on that course, Justin Walters, played them seven-under par for the four rounds, a factor which helped him to his victory.

But it’s eagles that can separate the contenders from the champions – and the seventh and the 12th on this course are the holes that will give up eagles more readily than the others.

The seventh was the easiest last time out, playing at a total of 171 under-par for the tournament at an average of 4.33 with nine eagles achieved during the four rounds.

But it was 12 that was the jackpot hole, giving up an astonishing 17 eagles as it played 156 under-par at an average of 4.39.

It was the flipside of those figures which sound the warning to professionals: There were 16 bogeys and two doubles, showing that, while it is enticing to go for it on the 12th, it can also be a little punitive if you get it wrong.

Only the 17th with its approach over water gave up more bogeys amongst the par-fives.

So the downhill 12th which curves away to the right and has the green as a tantalising target at the bottom of the lowest point of the valley on the back nine has a siren call which needs to be answered if you’re in any way going to chase down a leader or put daylight between yourself and the opposition.

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