South African golfer Ernie Els has created a name for himself as not only a world class golfer but an emerging talent on the golf course design circuit. The Els Course at Mission Hills Golf Club lays testament to the fantastic eye the “Big Easy” has for designing courses that will stay long in the memory for their challenge and their beauty.
Measuring 7049 yards from the back tees the course boasts no parallel holes, creating an intimate setting for golfers to enjoy. Swathes of lush green and perfectly manicured fairways are framed by the dense forested areas creating the image of luxury.
Split into two distinct 9, the front 9 being more mountainous and the back 9 flatter with the introduction of water hazards.
For those of you that want to enjoy spectacular views and be slightly less challenged on the golfing front then the Els Course, previously called the Savannah Course, is a good choice.
The fairways at times can be very narrow and are flanked by dense vegetation to punish those off-centre strikes. Having said that if you manage the course well you can easily avoid the narrow areas of the fairway.
Perhaps the best example of this is the signature par 5 fourth hole. Played from an elevated tee, the highest point of the course you are provided with spectacular views of the course, the Mission Hills Golf Club and the stunning natural scenery of the local area. It is a view to savour, but do not let it distract you from the task in hand. This hole is tough. A dogleg to the left the tee shot is the key to achieving a reasonable score. Too short and you will face a second shot over the trees and the creek that runs the length of the hole, too long and you will run out of room, miss left or right and you will almost certainly be out of bounds. The second shot is no easier and requires an accurate shot to find the narrowing fairway. The third must avoid the left and the creek that runs alongside the green.
In general, it is the par fives that are most interesting on this course, offering the greatest challenges. The 6th at 517 yards is reachable in two for some, but requires accuracy with the second to avoid the cavernous bunkers that protect the green.
The 11th offers the biggest hitters another chance to get home in two, but like the previous par fives is fraught with danger. The creek that runs through the course is prevalent in the design and play of the hole. Cutting across the fairway and then back towards the green to create a daunting second or third shot.
Hole 15 is the pick of the par threes with a naturalness to its design. A wide, large green almost creates a peninsula into the lake which provides the challenge.
The Els course is a beautiful golf course with arguably the most memorable hole at the entire complex and although some of the holes are not as memorable this has to be a course you try.