The Graceland Hotel and Country Club is located about 2 hours outside of Johannesburg in Secunda. It is claimed to be an inland style links course and was designed by Gary Player himself. Gary Player must have had to conjure up some of his serious imagination to design a course in this area. It is basically a featureless region without views with the exception of the numerous and large smoke stacks and cooling towers at the nearby Sasol facility. The Graceland Hotel’s developers obviously wanted to have some kind of drawcard, other than the casino, to lure golfers out this side of the world. Having a Gary Player designed course is naturally a big bonus.
Gary Player carved a golf course out of this piece of land and made some very challenging holes. The local conditions also make themselves known. When I played the wind was ripping through the course with some ferocity. I stood on the first tee box and had to what for it to subside slightly as I was being buffeted around. I felt like I was playing on a coastal links course and the certainly raised the level of difficulty on this day. As the land is relatively flat in this area the wind has nothing stopping it from building up a head of steam. According to the locals the wind is quite a regular factor. Playing in winter, the course otherwise was very playable with few dangers. In summer after the rains, I would imagine the rough would be a significant problem, but on this occasion it was inane and a very small penalty for hitting a wayward shot.
Overall the course has a smattering of very challenging holes and some very straightforward holes. It is definitely a course to play more than once. The layout of the track is not immediately apparent and wrong club choices are sometimes made.
Being a resort type course, means that the facilities for golfers are often less than would be expected at a traditional golf club. There is a pro shop, an adequate cloakroom, and halfway house. It was quiet as I played on a Thursday, but the service at halfway was slow and it took more than half an hour to make the turn.
Tick it off the list, but I would suggest playing in summer when the course will be in top condition.
My favourite hole – Number 18 – par 4 – Lovely shot into an elevated green situated below the main Hotel building.
My scariest hole – Number 4 – par 5 – Played into the wind, this is a 3 shot approach to the green with danger on every side and in front on nearly every shot..
Overall Experience rating by the Everyday Golfer: 7.5 out of 10.