Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate becomes Jack’s fifth Signature Course to open in South Africa
In the same day much of the golf world had its eyes fixed on New York to watch the US Open splish-splash to an eventual conclusion, the golf world in South Africa focused its eyes on Johannesburg and the opening of Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate.
On June 20, Jack Nicklaus unveiled his latest creation, the Jack Nicklaus Signature Courses at Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate. More than 750 people attended a cocktail function on the eve of the grand opening. The day of the opening, more than 600 walked along with the Golden Bear under cool-and-clear skies, as he and his son Jack II showcased the golf course and explained the strategy behind the design. Entertainment during the event covered several cultures, from Scottish bag-pipers to Masaai warrior dances that added a little African and Serengeti flavor to the festivities.
Serengeti will join an elite group of more than 340 courses that carry the Nicklaus Design name and a celebrated list of five courses Jack Nicklaus has designed and opened in South Africa since 1998. The four previous courses—Pecanwood (Northwest Province), Pearl Valley (Western Cape), Simola (Southern Cape) and St Francis Links (Eastern Cape)—have all won Golf Digest’s Best New Course in South Africa for the respective years they opened, so the bar has been set high for Serengeti. But all indications are that Serengeti is certainly up for the challenge.
There are two layouts at Serengeti—an 18-hole course named the Masai Mara, which has a rugged grassland and dunescape look and feel, and a 9-hole course named the Whistling Thorn, which features classic design elements and a plainslike feel.
The two golf courses will be harnessed by a multi-faceted clubhouse of over 65,000 square feet, with several lounges, bars, two restaurants and banqueting facilities that will be able to host events of up to 1,500 people. In combination the golf courses and the clubhouse represent an investment of more than R200-million ($26 million) by the owners of Serengeti. The estate is being developed by brothers Leon and Gideon van der Vyver and their partner Graham Power, the founder of the Power Group of Companies, leaders in the field of property development and construction. The Van der Vyvers were the founders of the Acugroup of companies, property development and township creation specialists, which merged with Power in early 2009.
“In the four years that we have had the privilege to work with Jack in the creation of these courses, we have come to admire his exceptional focus and attention to detail. We are proud that the end product reflects the hard work of many people, harnessed by Jack’s design skills and leadership,” said Leon van der Vyver.
Serengeti is the first Jack Nicklaus Signature Course to open in Gauteng and the first full-scale cool-season grass golf course in the golf-rich province. Cool-season grasses are evergreen, creating a lush and finely manicured playing surface all year round.
Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate is a new private suburb located less than eight miles from OR Tambo International Airport. Its ideal location and the lure of Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf has made the development one of the most notable success stories in recent years. Since its first launch in May 2006—which sold out in less than two hours—all four phases brought to market have sold out in less than two days. Of the 800 properties brought to market, 680 have been transferred to their new owners, many of whom are already resident on the estate with several others currently constructing homes.
Once fully developed, Serengeti will boast 1,700 private residences, a retail village square, a private school, an office park and a hotel and spa. Real estate marketing on the estate is ongoing and the golf club membership program was launched in March.
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