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Course Review: Leopard Creek Country Club

Leopard Creek Country Club  9th hole fairway and club house

The Leopard Creek Country Club is one of South Africa's top ranked golf clubs. Situated in Malelane against the southern edge of the Kruger National Park and bordered by the Crocodile River, Leopard Creek is the embodiment of the vision of one of South Africa's richest and most iconic figures, Johann Rupert.

Golfing great Gary Player was recruited to the cause and his 1996 creation has gone on to outshine the superlatives heaped on it for beauty and conditioning. This magical parklands layout wanders through bush and trees and grassland with abundant sightings of wildlife complementing the experience – giraffe, hippos, crocodiles, antelope, buffalo and a glimpse of leopard for the fortunate few. 

Leopard Creek's par 72 layout stretches over 6600 metres with Kikuyu fairways and creeping bentgrass greens. There are some dramatic changes in elevation and the views from many parts of the courser are truly spellbinding.

However the thatched colonial style clubhouse has a large grass-covered spectator area on the edge of the lake that protects the 9th and 18th greens. The 9th hole is a downhill 435m par 4 with water down the entire left side and a peninsula green jutting obliquely into the lake, with Sunday's pin position sure to be the narrow back strip on the water's edge.

The signature hole is the 13th, a 505m par 5 that follows the contours of the Crocodile River to a green overhanging the water some 30 metres below, affording great views of the wildlife across the river in the Kruger Park. The finishing hole is a 495m downhill par 5 that is very reachable for the longer hitters.

But, the island green perched in the middle of the lake is visually intimidating and presents a perfect balance of risk and reward. Leopard Creek is a spectacular and magnificent course that blends challenge and beauty in a package that is unsurpassed anywhere, offering an unforgettable experience to both players and spectators.