Since the inaugural Nedbank Golf Challenge in 1981, the Gary Player Country Club course has been at the heart of what has made this tournament one of the most iconic and enduring in world golf.
This past weekend, a select group of sponsors and media were given the opportunity to play the golf course in the traditional Final Round before it is closed until the world’s best professionals arrive here for the tournament week of 10-13 November, 2022.
For Ken Payet, Tournament Director of the Nedbank Golf Challenge, this is the moment they have patiently waited for since the last Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, and his team is hard at work around the clock to ensure that one of world golf’s most impressive golf courses built in the crater of an extinct volcano in the Pilanesberg mountains is at its usual explosive best for the 40th edition of “Africa’s Major”.
“Our whole team is very excited and we can’t wait for tournament week now. We are three weeks away from celebrating the 40th edition of this iconic tournament. After a two-year absence due to COVID-19 it’s so satisfying seeing the grandstands and hospitality up, and more importantly the team out there on the golf course preparing this magnificent course for the challenge to come,” said Payet.
The Gary Player Country Club course is kept in pristine condition year-round. But with only a few weeks to go to the biggest tournament it hosts, the golf course is closed to allow the maintenance staff to condition it to a level of near natural perfection.
“Our planning for the entire year is built around making sure the golf course peaks in its conditioning for tournament week. There is a dedicated team that is paying the closest attention to this golf course every single day. They are on the golf course at five o’clock in the morning and leave at four o’clock in the afternoon.
“We also need Mother Nature on our side. We rely on a good amount of rain in order to make sure we have a decent level of rough. So with a bit of rain still to come, I’ve no doubt that the golf course will once again be in perfect condition come tournament week.”
The golf course is famed as providing a true test of strategy and one which since the first Nedbank Golf Challenge in 1981 has withstood the advancements in golf equipment technology and generations of elite professionals.
“From a set-up perspective we always want to test the golfers because we never forget that we are hosting the world’s best golfers. These are professionals who play incredible golf week in and week out around the world. So we need to make sure they are fairly tested.
“But we always strike the balance in ensuring that the set-up provides the kind of exciting golf the fans want to see. We had record crowds in 2019 of 76 000 people. If we can break that record this year it would be fantastic. These are passionate golf fans who want to see the best golfers playing the best golf. So from a set-up perspective we will give them that.”
From now until tournament week, Payet and his team will focus on the final touches both on and off the course as they prepare to welcome back thousands of golf fans for the first time since 2019.
“The bulk of the infrastructure is up. From a golf course perspective, the grand old lady just needs a bit of a break from daily golf for three weeks. This will allow the golf course team to pay attention to the finer details and the detailed conditioning the world’s best players have come to expect from our golf course.
“And then we cannot wait to see the fans back here enjoying the very best that the Nedbank Golf Challenge and Sun City has to offer.”
Tickets for the Nedbank Golf Challenge, starting at R40 for the Pro-Ams and R250 for Tournament Rounds, are available here, while Hospitality Packages for the Circa Champions Club, Circa Pavilion or Circa 18th Green can be purchased here. The 2019 edition of the Nedbank Golf Challenge delivered record attendance figures and sold-out hospitality.