Masai Mara golf course at Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate was built by the Golden Bear and opened for play in June 2009. The course is named after the game reserve in Kenya. With the addition of the 9-hole Whistling Thorn course, Masai Mara became South Africa’s first 27-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature facility, alongside the main Masai Mara championship setup.
Despite being over a thousand miles apart, the open grassland and plains that make up the core of the course design at the Serengeti Golf Club in Gauteng are very similar to the boundless plains of the Serengeti area that reach northward across Tanzania and Kenya.
Masai Mara course has big, multi-tiered greens, undulating fairways and plentiful, rocky, distressed bunkering. The Serengeti was designed with tournament play in mind, therefore it follows a figure-of-eight layout with holes that face in various directions relative to the compass. If you’re not feeling particularly fortunate or on top of your game, leave the 7,761-yard championship tips to the experts.
Masai Mara’s most famous hole is the par-three eighth. The whole right side of this short par 5 is guarded by water, adding to the hole’s air of ostentation. The green resembles a Sawgrass island and may attract long hitters, but only the most accomplished golfers will be able to reach this safe haven in only two swings. However, nine eagles were scored here (more than any other hole) during the 2011 Open and the eighth ended up being one of the tournament’s easiest holes overall.
The South African Open was held at the Masai Mara course in November 2011, and it was widely expected to be a matchup between Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. After two rounds, the contest seemed to be close, but the Big Easy’s scores of 76 and 79 in the following two rounds put an end to it. The Goose played well and came in at No. 6, but fellow countryman Hennie Otto beat out the competition to win the 2011 national championship at the young Serengeti.
The next year, Henrik Stenson won the South African Open here, beating out George Coetzee by a comfortable three shots. Given that the Swede had fallen to number 230 in the global rankings earlier in 2012, this signified a stunning turnaround in form and fortune for him.
If you want to expand your options in golf clubs, you can also consider joining Services Golf Club or Royal Golf Club. The choice is yours!