The Hans Merensky Golf Course in South Africa could well be the wildest course on earth. It is not unusual for a hole to be closed for the afternoon due to a pride of lions shading themselves under one of the many Acacia trees that line the fairways here. They even have a local rule that you can take free relief from animal droppings! The wildlife is always a part of the golf experience at Hans Merensky, but particularly during the drier, winter months, where elephants, several species of antelope, giraffe, warthogs and even the big cats can be spotted.
The course is situated in Mpumalanga Province and located in the Valley of the Elephants, adjacent to the Kruger National Park. Crocodile and hippo will add to the adrenaline over and above a normal "water hazard" and the course is rated one of the top 20 in South Africa. It actually was at one time part of the Kruger Park and as a result the magnificent bushveld trees give the impression that the course is far older than its thirty years. From the moment one enters the grounds, it becomes apparent that this is a uniquely African experience as monkeys play in the enormous trees around the clubhouse, which is said to have the biggest thatched roof in the country.
The course is strong, without a weak hole in the line up. I particularly enjoy the par three 8th and 17th holes where the above mentioned hippos and crocodiles are definitely in play. Oh and a word of warning - if your caddie will not go into the thicket to retrieve your Titleist - that's a good indication that you shouldn't either!
If you simply cannot get enough of the African bushveld golf experience also try the Skukuza Golf Club which is located within the Kruger Park.
A far more intimidating sign than the one posted behind the first tee at Bethpage Black!
There is so much to do besides playing golf that a stay of at least two nights is recommended. You can always take advantage of the proximity to the Kruger and spend a few hours, day or night, taking a game drive. There is also the option to enjoy an Olifants River safari cruise. For something even a little more exotic you might want to visit a local shebeen (an unlicensed drinking establishment!) or a cheetah breeding camp.
If you like golf on the wild side the Hans Merensky Hotel & Estate is not to be missed.