The idea of building a golf course on a dormant volcano next to a game reserve was absurd, but Sol Kerzner, a South African hotelier, had a plan.
“The first helicopter flight with Sol Kerzner into the great outdoors bushveld was interesting, ”said Gary Player about the plan to build his golf course of the same name Sun City, South Africa, his home country. "I thought there was no way to build a golf course, let alone a world-class resort, here."
Since the course was on a crater, the player said, was the rock very difficult to break through. There was no water either, so engineers had to build a pipeline to pump water that was miles away. The rock, the lack of topsoil and the vegetation mountains made it almost impossible to shape the course. But Kerzner was a visionary, the player said. "He made things happen."
Until 1979 it was Gary Player Country Club was ready to play. Now we celebrate 40th The anniversary has cemented its reputation as the venue for the Nedbank Golf Challenge, that starts on Thursday,
That was the name of the tournament Million dollar challenge when it debuted in 1981 and brought golf greats Seve Ballesteros together, Jack Nicklaus. Lee Trevino and Johnny Miller. It came to Ballesteros and Miller, with Nicklaus a punch backwards is missing a putt on his last hole. Miller defeated Ballesteros in one game start,
At about 8,000 meters, the Par 72 is one of the longest golf courses in the world. The extensive, flat fairways meander through the bushes and the lakes and lead to smoothness bentgrass Greens.
That is when the players can cope with the effects of the wind, the narrow fairways, the height and the tricky grass.
"I like the sticky grass" Branden Grace of South Africa, who won in 2017, said last year. "It is the grass that we grew up on. Many golfers from Europe or America have a hard time and are not very interested in it. They find it a bit tricky and sticky and sometimes thick. For us as adults we had to get used to it.
“Because Sun City is so high in altitude and in the heat, the ball stays forever. You can hit a 7 iron 200 meters without thinking about it. Some guys don't even play with a driver. You have to be exact and be short on the things and be aggressive if you should be on the tee. "
It was the wind that Lee Westwood from England remembers last year.
"It's not an easy golf course if the wind blows in the direction it was and it swirled throughout the day," he said after shooting one 64 on his last lap and win The competition.
The previous one master Retief Goosen. Martin Kaymer, Grace and Henrik Stenson described the course in a joint statement this year as tough but fair.
"This golf course is often built like a big championship during the Nedbank Golf Challenge," said South African Goosen, who also said the wind was difficult. "The fairways are narrow and the rough is sometimes four inches deep."
Kaymer, a German, said you had to hit the fairways.
"You can make it tight here and if you miss the fairways it is very difficult to hit the greens because the ball is in the rough," he said. "Even then, it is difficult to put yourself back on the fairway. So driving is the key. "
Stenson from Sweden also said that it is important to hit the fairways.
"If you missed the fairway, you got a little rough, and after that, it's Bush and maybe a new ball," he said. "So you'd better be on your long game."
Grace said The course tested all elements of the game.
"Pretty much everything in your game has to be on song here," he said. "It's a brutal test, especially when the wind starts to whirl. You think it comes from the left and then the right."
And then there's the wildlife.
"Not many places have a herd of elephants looking down and applying extra pressure to sink their putt," said the player.
For the most part that was true. A fence separates the square from the park and generally prevents the animals from meandering on the fairways, but some have occurred.
in the 2016There was an invasion of the mongoose. The game was interrupted briefly when about 20 arrived at the 16th green and were inspected Victor Dubuissons Ball.
An excited baboon attacked Luke Donald from England in 2014 during an approach shot. Donald ran for cover behind his caddy, Johnny McLaren. "The fact that my caddy, Johnny, didn't even twitch makes my reaction look even more pitiful!" Donald said later.
Another time, a baboon wandered into the square and picked up a ball. The judges were unsure how to control the disturbance.
Ernie Els of South Africa, who won the tournament in 1999, 2000 and 2002, returns this year.
"It is always a pleasure to play in South Africa and especially at the Nedbank Golf Challenge," he said. "I have some great memories from the tournament – especially from my three wins."
Last year Westwood became one Three-clock Victory over Sergio Garcia of Spain for the third time after two wins in 2010 and 2011,
Els joins him countrymen Louis Oosthuizen and Grace, who won one of his most unforgettable golf experiences in 2017.
“When I won, I had moments when I saw Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Dr. Trevor Immelman winning the tournament, ”said Grace. "Well, if you get the chance, it's pretty special. Just walking the 18th hole past the stands and hearing the applause like I did last year was one of those moments that you never had Have forgotten your life. "