Above, the 13th green
Wild Waves Golf Challenge: Wild Coast Sun Country Club, August 29-31 2012
The Wild Coast Sun championship golf course is a rugged beauty of a course. The course may be a daunting challenge for professionals and amateurs alike but its wide fairways and huge greens, attract golfers of all levels.
A first glance at the score card might suggest that this course is a bit of a push-over – less than 6 000 metres in length with six par threes. On face value this might seem so but in reality the Wild Coast Sun Country Club is one of South Africa’s most testing layouts. Indeed renowned American golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones II has created a dramatic golfing experience along the Indian Ocean.
Possibly the greatest challenge is to conquer the prevailing winds which add an entirely new dimension to the course.
Some of South Africa’s finest and certainly most dramatic golf holes can be found here. The 13th, a par-three played across a waterfall is generally regarded the best short hole in the country.
And for drama nothing can match the outstanding par-five 12th. Here the drive is hit from a high elevated tee to a fairway far below that snakes its way through a valley flanked by a dam and stream on the left with a natural hillock on the right. The more of the river you take on with your drive the easier the approach to the green – an excellent example of a risk-and-reward par-five.
Retief Goosen when asked about his top 18 dream holes to make up a golf course picked the 12th & 13th holes of the Wild Coast Sun.
Hole 1: Par 4, 361 metres – CharlieÂs Angel
A Tee shot just to the right of the fairway bunker will leave you a medium iron shot to a large green guarded by water on the right and bunkers on the left. Correct placement off the tee is key as the target becomes narrower the further right you stray.
Hole 2: Par 4, 315 metres – AlbertoÂs Albatross
A Tee shot favouring the left half of the fairway will leave you a short pitch to the green. Avoid the fairway bunker as best you can as the green is long and narrow, and slopes back towards two steep bunkers.
Hole 3: Par 5, 497 metres – TrentÂs Trouble
A lengthy coastal par-five which requires two well-hit shots to reach the putting surface. A small stream flanks the right-side of the fairway and can come into play off the tee for the longer hitters. The green is two-tiered making your approach shot all the more important.
Hole 4: Par 3, 110 metres – Postage Stamp
Only a short iron required to a green very susceptible to spin. A large bunker guards the right edge and drops away even more towards the bushes so be careful of the crosswinds.
Hole 5: Par 4, 385 metres – Wild Coast
The second most difficult hole on the course. An accurate tee shot is required to a fairway over a blind rise. Favouring the left half of the fairway with your tee shot will leave you a medium iron to an L-shaped green flanked on both sides by bunkers.
Hole 6: Par 3, 176 metres – Bent Wallet Bridge
A medium iron down to a well guarded green, bunkers left and right with a water hazard also on the left. Finding the green is pivotal as it is on a plateau and anything left, right, or long will find its way towards bush.
Hole 7: Par 5, 505 metres – Great Trek
A long coastal par-five which wonÂt easily be found in two, even for the longer hitters. Bunkers guard the left edge of the fairway and are in range off the tee. The green is also surrounded by bunkers making it a difficult prospect for par if your approach shot doesn;t find the surface.
Hole 8: Par 3, 169 metres – WinstonÂs Waterloo
The large dam to the right of the green provides a daunting challenge especially when the winds pick up. Commit to your target, and a birdie is more than likely your reward.
Hole 9: Par 4, 361 metres – HeywoodÂs Hook
The fairway doglegs to the left and runs uphill all the way to the green. There are two fairway bunkers on the left-hand side at the dogleg. The best way to tackle this hole is to play well right of the bunkers leaving a straightforward approach to the green, which is fairly large with bunkers on the left, right and at the back. This is one of the easier greens on the course.
Hole 10: Par 4, 353 metres – MatthewÂs Drive
A relatively easy hole where a good tee shot to a wide fairway will leave you a short iron to an elevated green. The only hazards on the hole are a couple of fairway bunkers which will feature for the shorter hitters while two bunkers guard the front and right-side of the green.
Hole 11: Par 3, 188 metres – Blackjack
The wind is very influential on this hole and changes the dynamic completely depending on its direction. A medium iron is normally required to a clover leaf shaped green guarded by bunkers left and right.
Hole 12: Par 5, 441 metres – Green Mamba
This hole provides stunning views of the course from the tee box. A good drive is required to a fairway well below which is flanked by water up the left and bunkers right. The green is elevated and difficult to find in two unless you are in the middle of the fairway.
Hole 13: Par 3, 168 metres – Waterfall
One of the most picturesque holes in South Africa. Four different tee boxes each provide challenges of their own as you hit your shot over a gorge with a waterfall to a wide green with a bunker guarding the back. Choice of club ranges from fairway wood to short iron depending on the direction of the wind.
Hole 14: Par 4, 401 metres – ForsytheÂs Saga
Placement off the tee is crucial on this stroke one as anything to long will find water while anything right leads to thick bush where the odd snake can be found. A long-iron second shot is then required to a green guarded by a bunker on the left and thick rough on the right.
Hole 15: Par 4, 375 metres – Homeward Bound
The fairway is wide on this hole so you can open your shoulders a bit off the tee. A really big drive which finds the down slope on the fairway could in fact come quite close to the green. Otherwise, a short iron to an open green will set you up with an easy birdie chance.
Hole 16: Par 5, 492 metres – FiddianÂs Green
This hole requires good course management as water comes into play both left and right leading the whole way up to the green. Attempting this green in two is extremely risky but those who succeed will most certainly walk off with a four.
Hole 17: Par 3, 162 metres – Punto Banco
Crosswinds play a big part in this par-three. Once again an accurate tee shot over a gorge is needed to a green well guarded by thick bush and bunkers. Anything long is a safer bet but will leave you with a tricky up-and-down.
Hole 18: Par 4, 348 metres – TaipanÂs Revenge
The longest of hitters can have a dip at this green, but will need to hit a high draw over the clubhouse on the hill. Otherwise, a straight tee shot to the guarded fairway will leave a short approach to a heavily-guarded green.