Category: South Africa

January 14, 2011

John Garrity: Courses I Need to Play

Posted at 10:41 AM by

Garrity-mobile-home-golf-course-2 By John Garrity

Inspired by "Travelin' Joe" Passov, I've been trying to come up with my own wish list of "Courses I Need to Play." The fact that I'm having trouble finding 10 testifies to how lucky I've been over the years. I've played Mollymook. I've played Formby Ladies. I teed it up in the inaugural event at Medicine Hole. If my current bout with tendinitis were to end my golfing days, I'd have no cause for complaint.

But Joe is right, there are courses - Cypress Point and Pine Valley come to mind - so enticing that you would pay to play them. One of those courses, for me, is the Indian Army 9-Hole Golf Course outside Leh, Ladakh, on the Tibetan plateau. I stumbled upon Indian Army 25 years ago while covering a polo match in Leh. The course was a bit outside town on a dusty road that crossed a moonscape of boulders and rubble punctuated with Buddhist burial markers. A barbed wire fence and gun placements emphasized that it was a private course, but I couldn't help but stare longingly at the crooked bamboo flagsticks impaled on gravel greens next to coffee-can holes. Not a blade of grass on the property, but, as Gary Player often said, "It's the finest course of its kind I've ever seen."

Garrity mobile home golf course Even higher on my list, maybe at No. 1, is the Fort Meade City Mobile Home Park Golf Course in Fort Meade, Fla. (My photo is above, and an aerial view is at right, courtesy of Google Maps.) Fort Meade has finished dead last among the world's courses in every respectable course rating scheme, a record not likely to be broken. On the other hand, it is the best 9-hole, par-3, clay-greens course in the South. I've walked Ft. Meade on a couple of occasions, taking in the surrounding banyan trees and fire-ant sand hills, but I've never gotten the opportunity to play. Just once I'd like to stride up that final fairway with a club in my hand, crossing in front of the tee boxes for the previous eight holes and stepping onto the profoundly round and flat ninth green, at the foot of the municipal water treatment plant.

Another not-to-miss track that I have toured without playing is the new Machrihanish Dunes course in Machrihanish, Scotland. While not exactly the black sheep of the Kintyre Peninsula, the Dunes course does have black sheep on the property, their job being to keep the marram grass on the dunes to a playable length. At 79 pounds per round in peak season, Machrihanish Dunes is the priciest layout on my must-play list, but I'll claw back some of that by neglecting to leave any money in the honesty boxes of my other choices.

I'm also pining for the Papa Westray Golf Course in the Orkney Isles of Scotland. Although panned by one critic as "worse than Ronaldsay," Papa Westray provides tourists with the opportunity to experience the world's shortest scheduled flight, a less than two minute hop from Kirkwall. But first I have to experience the Lost City Golf Course of Sun City, South Africa -- if only to play the famous 13th hole, which is fronted by a stone pit full of hissing crocodiles.

But that's only five courses, isn't it? (Seven, if I poach Cape Kidnappers and Hirono from Joe's list.)

Well, I've got time to work on my list after dark - of which I've seen plenty this week, having found my way to Askernish Old in the daylight-challenged Outer Hebrides. (I'll post my reflections on the world's best golf course on my Top 50 blog.) If you see Travelin' Joe, ask him if he's played Fort Meade.

John Garrity on | John Garrity's Top 50 Blog

November 20, 2009

Par 3 in South Africa gives new meaning to 'extreme' golf hole

Posted at 4:54 PM by Ryan Reiterman

When you think of amazing par 3s, the 12th at Augusta, the 17th at Cypress Point and the 17th at Sawgrass come to mind.

While the Legend Golf Resort & Safari in South Africa doesn't have the pedigree of an Augusta or Cypress Point, it can lay claim to one of the most extreme par 3s in the world.Goosen_600

The Extreme 19th hole starts with a helicopter ride up the Hanglip Mountain to a tee 1,410 feet above the green. Players then hit to an Africa-shaped green below with a large waste bunker surrounding it. There are three sets of tees, so club selection will vary, but when Padraig Harrington played it, he nailed a driver into the bunker and got up and down to record the first par on the hole.

Africagreen_600Several other top pros have played the extreme hole, including Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Retief Goosen (pictured above right).

Four different cameras allow you to track the ball's flight pattern, and scores are kept on a leaderboard at No one has made a birdie yet.

Ask Travelin' Joe

Our traveling correspondent has been where you're going. Heading out of town on vacation? Business trip? Travelin' Joe can suggest the best places for you to tee it up. If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at


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