Continuing our ‘My Top Ten’ series, we asked South African golf course architect Paul Jansen about his favourite courses. Paul had spells with former ASGCA president Tom Clark and six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo before setting up his own firm, Jansen Golf Design, in 2011. He is now also chief architect and president for Pelz Player Greens, the firm set up by short-game specialist Dave Pelz, and Raflewski Design
West Sussex, England. If I chose to play one course every day for the rest of my life it would be West Sussex in Pulborough. It is a wonderful walk though nature and has many sensational golf holes and features.
Durban Country Club, South Africa. I grew up in Durban and have had the opportunity to play the course more times than I can count. At that time, I knew little to nothing about golf course architecture, but I knew there was something special about Durban CC. It has one of the best opening stretches in golf along with some great holes in the middle and the end. If the flatter, more benign holes were improved, it would always be a top 100 golf course.
Fuji course at Kawana Hotel, Japan. For the Fuji layout, Hugh Alison routed one of the best golf courses on the planet on incredibly difficult terrain, taking golfers to all the best bits of the site. There is such a variety of everything at Kawana, and the Fuji course highlights the importance of the routing exercise.
Royal County Down, Northern Ireland. I was literally blown away by the front nine and the bunkering when I played there.
Utrecht De Pan, Netherlands. I visited De Pan over 15 years ago and still remember each hole like it was yesterday. Although it is laid out on a small parcel of land, it never feels like it is as most holes are private and take advantage of some scrumptious terrain and tree vegetation. There is a lot to like about the Netherlands, including the golf.
Shinnecock Hills, New York. Everything about the course is class: routing, bunkering, strategy, variety of holes, presentation and so much more.
Jasper Park Lodge, Canada. A great golf course and a great golf course experience. There are very few golf courses in the world that are so well designed and sit in such a remarkable space. Only the bushveld golf courses in Africa can compare when it comes to wildlife interaction, but none are as well designed.
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka. A blast from the past and my happy place. I don’t think anything has changed at Nuwara Eliya in 130 years other than the fact that the city has got bigger and now encroaches on some of the holes. No rules apply on this golf course, which is refreshing and a departure from modern design. After a round of golf, enjoy the best tea (freshly picked) that I have tasted with some butter cake and then retreat to the library and fireplace where things get more serious.
Western Gailes, Scotland. I’ve played better links courses, but this was my first, so it was hard not to rank it high amongst the courses that I have played. There are many wonderful holes and green complexes.
Kambaku Komatipoort, South Africa. This is the best nine-hole golf course I have played. It is certainly not a classic design, but it is a good one as holes are routed to take advantage of the best bits of the site and views surrounding the property. The golf course is littered with wildlife and borders the Kruger National Park so it’s very possible to play alongside any one of the ‘Big Five’. Having a beer at the clubhouse looking out over the Limpopo River and into Mozambique is about as good as it gets.