It’s hard to find something new in golf these days but I’ve just discovered something that’s going straight on to my bucket list. I heard about it from a guy who is going to do some work on our house over the next few weeks and, knowing I was about to visit South Africa, he sent me a link to the Legend Golf & Safari Resort in Entabeni Safari Conservancy in the Waterberg mountains, three hours’ drive from Jo’burg.
You know that conversation we’ve all had at one time or another…..”What would you do if you won the lottery?” Well, I am set to wonder no more and I may even start buying the odd ticket. Two of my favourite things – going on safari and going golfing – are combined under one umbrella in this fabulously scenic country but here’s where my interest is really piqued. The 18-hole golf course has each hole designed by a different designer, starting at the 1st with former Masters champion Trevor Immelman and ending with another South African, two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen. In between there are holes designed by Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, K J Choi, Raphael Jacquelin and Padraig Harrington, to name but a few and collectively these holes make up the Signature Course.
Irresistible as that course may be, it is their 19th hole that I want to play. The Extreme 19th is a par 3 measuring 391 yards and the tee, perched precariously on a ledge of the aptly named Hanglip Mountain, is accessible only by helicopter. The hoped-for destination of your golf ball is a green, shaped like Africa, which sits in a valley nearly 400 metres below you. If you’re lucky, it takes thirty seconds for your ball to find its way to the putting surface from the tee.“This is the most unique spot that I’ve ever hit from in my 55 years as a pro. It’s quite a thrill,” was the verdict of Gary Player. Harrington – that’s him on the tee in the featured picture at the top of this piece – was the first person ever to record a par on the hole and said, “It’s a real fun golf hole. You can’t get over how long it takes for the ball to come down.”
I have to admit I’d just love a go at it, notwithstanding suffering from a touch of vertigo. And one of the really cool things is that every person who tries it has their score recorded – even the No Returns. To date the highest score returned (apart from the NRs) is 76 but I did notice that Lynette Brooky, the talented New Zealander who used to play on tour with me, recorded a 4. Pretty creditable, I’d say. There have been a few birdies but no holes in one – yet. The resort says the first person to get a hole in one will receive $1million. Another good reason to have a go.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my goal of climbing Table Mountain, which was quite a challenge not least because of a few health problems last year. Well, I’m happy to report that the challenge was met head on – and attained! Thanks to all of you who inspired and helped. You know who you are – we’ll have a glass when next I see you. [No water for me – ed.]