What a brilliant way to finish our golfing safari through Sth Africa!
We were staying at Kirkmans Kamp, abutting Kruger National Park, and enjoying the most thrilling safaris both early morning and late afternoon each day.
Already we had not only sighted the big five and much more, we had got up closer than we had ever thought possible.
It was an adventure we were never likely to forget...
But being so close to perhaps the top rated course in Sth Africa was too big an opportunity to overlook.
After morning safari the chopper picked four of us up for a glorious 75 km ride over Kruger to Leopard Creek.
We spotted elephants and rhino all over...
Leopard Creek was designed by Gary Player, and opened for play in 1997
The course abuts Kruger, with only the river separating the course from the park.
The course was named after the leopards in the area, but sightings are fewer these days.
And the giraffes have been relocated as they were damaging greens.
Nevertheless the course has a real connection with the animal kingdom with leopard statues at every turn, monkeys, and impala abundant.
And then there is the 13th hole!
The course starts slowly on the front nine with a number of pleasant parkland holes on relatively flat terrain.
The first few holes are redeemed somewhat by clever use of water hazards/ burns, and lovely shaping of the greens.
The introduction of a pretty water carry par 3, and an interesting short par 4 with fairway cross bunkering at holes 5 & 6, enhanced the journey..
The nine finished with a flourish with a hole which somewhat mirrors the 18th hole.
The challenge is all on the approach with the water down the left side and around the green.
This opening nine reminded me a little of Valderrama with the general feel of the layout- not such a bad comparison I would argue...
The back nine is set on hillier terrain, and is much more engaging golf.
Ten is more in keeping with the front nine, but then hole 11 rings a change.
The hole goes through a gap in trees, over a gully, and then up.
There is more definition here with tree lines and elevation changes.
It's a good hole.
Twelve is a pretty downhill par 3 from a very high tee.
I thought the front of the green a bit severe, but the jury is out pending another look..
Thirteen is a special hole, not unlike Augusta.
It's a swinging right to left par 5 with creek and jungle all the way down the left.
The Fairway has a right to left slope, and a rocky creek angling across at the landing area- forcing a decision on the lay up.
The green is a bit reminiscent of the 11th at Augusta in shape, with pond on the front.
It is a skyline green, and when you walk on to putt be prepared to spend 10 minutes transfixed with the view to Kruger and the river below.
It was noisy too!
The river below was full of hippos having a great old time.
This is one of the great holes anywhere!
Further on we faced an elevated tee and long carry to the fairway on the par 5, 15th hole.
It was another strong hole.
The tricky second shot over cross bunkering to a fairway curving left and lake on the right defined the hole.
You need to pick the right line and length.
If successful you are then faced with a short iron to a green projecting into the lake.
Sixteen continues with the water theme- it's a par 3 with a longish carry over the lake.
It is a challenging hole.
Finally the picturesque 18th is a par 5, with an island green set in front of the unique clubhouse.
It's a nice finish to a very good course.
I am very pleased we took our opportunity to play Leopard Creek, and very much enjoyed the experience.
It may not be the best in Sth Africa- I would rate The Links at Fancourt higher- but it is an exciting golfing venue, and something not to be missed.
The helicopter ride over Kruger comes as an optional extra!
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For suggested destinations see: Golf Destinations- South Africa
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