I unfortunately do not get the opportunity too often to play at courses outside of the Gauteng area so when I was invited to have a round at Highland Gate I jumped at the opportunity. Having only heard about it from fellow golfers, I was intrigued by just how many said they rated it as one of the best in the country or as their favourite course. Research online only revealed a few nice photos but every golf course has great photos on their webpage, so I didn’t put too much faith in that. So I resigned myself to waiting for the trip and making up my own mind about the venue.
After a leisurely 2 and half hour drive from Joburg, we arrived at Highland Gate. My first exposure was how the other guys I was to play with, immediately started explaining how challenging and difficult the course could be. I could immediately see what they were talking about. Sunk into a veritable sea of veld, rock and grassland was a lush green golf course. Amazing to see such lush green in the middle of winter.
Getting onto the course, it was in immaculate condition. Designed by Ernie Els every hole challenges the average golfer, but in a good way. Such awesome risk and reward shots off most tees, the course does not play particularly long. This means that often par 5s are reachable in two, but the target is often small with multiple perils awaiting you should you stray off course. The rough after the first cut is unplayable 9 times out of 10, if you are even lucky enough to find your ball. Often when looking for your ball you would emerge from the rough with 3 others left by other Everyday Golfer donations to Highland Gate.
It is hard to describe the course. One where the Golfer is challenged to calculate, assess and think through every shot they play. If the wind picks up, the course then bares its teeth and leaves you hitting 3 or 4 extras clubs into par 3s. I love this aspect of a course. That it is not straight forward and just a driver and iron down every hole.
They have finished the clubhouse, which has a small Proshop and cloakroom. Both are adequate without being anything special. Food is decent at Highland Gate, but takes time to arrive and can leave you being chased back onto the course which is never ideal.
I really enjoyed my time at Highland Gate despite losing plenty of golf balls. Ernie has outdone himself with this design and unfortunately you need to play there to really understand and appreciate just what a wonderful course this is. I need to go back there…soon.
My favourite hole – Number 11 – par 5 – Some good course management is the name of the game here. A chance for an Eagle if you are brave, maybe a birdie or easily many more. Got to think about it.
My worst hole – Number 1 – par 5 – The stroke 1 hole. Not an immensely long par 5, but very tight and basically impossible when the blows. I would suggest using your putter for most strokes when it is blowing into your face.
Overall Experience rating by the Everyday Golfer: 9 out of 10.
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