The brand-new golf course at the Legends Golf & Safari Resort in South Africa is an amazing stretch of 18 holes designed by 18 different top-flight golfers, including Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, K.J. Choi,Retief Goosen, Justin Rose, Trevor Immelman and Vijay Singh. And I’m sure each one of those 18 holes is a perfect mini-masterpiece of challenge and reward. Along with, apparently, a lion or two along the way, if we’re to believe the brochures.
But that’s nothing. Wait until you get to the bonus 19th hole.
The course’s so-called “Xtreme 19th” hole is a par 3 — a par 3 whose tee is atop a cliff on Hanglip Mountain, more than 1,400 feet above a green carved like the continent of Africa. You’ve got to take a helicopter to get to the tee box, and from there it’s more than 630 yards to the pin. Once you tee off, it takes nearly 30 seconds for the ball to hit the ground.
Should you manage to drill a hole-in-one on the 19th, congratulations — you’ve just won yourself a million bucks, and the right to call yourself the most Xtreme golfer on Earth! And unlike certain signature holes (Island Green at Sawgrass, we’re looking at you), you can play just the Xtreme 19th, if you like, without messing with all that full-round business. You can, of course, add it to your existing round, a la carte. And for tournaments held at the Legends, it will serve as the playoff hole. Playing all 19 holes runs about 2,000 South African rand, or about $220 in American bills, but for that you get the helicopter ride, plus a bunch of souvenir swag and a DVD of your shot.
Man, you’d need a shovel to repair the ball marks left if you hit the green from that high up. It’d be like a grenade! Plus, you’d better make darn sure the group ahead of you has cleared the green. I don’t think yelling “fore” would be enough to prepare somebody for a golf ball dropping from a quarter-mile up.
Me, I’d probably land it somewhere 100 yards short of the green, but so what — that’s still a 500-plus-yard drive. Take that, Tiger!
By Jay Busbee