Situated at a vertical height of 430 meters is the Extreme 19th Hole at the Legend Golf and Safari Resort in the Entabeni Safari Conservatory of the Limpopo Province, South Africa. Adding to the excitement of playing on the 357 meters, par three course is the award of greater than $1 million (USD) to any player who scores a hole in one!
Created in 2009, the minds behind the highest and longest par three golf course in the world are Graham Cooke and husband-and-wife, Peet and Mart Cilliers; it was designed by David Riddle. The resort is among the Big 5 Game Reserve where animals, such as cheetahs, lions, antelopes, rhinoceros, elephants, Cape buffalo, hippopatumus, and giraffes, freely roam.
According to Riddle, Director of Golf at Legends Golf Club, in the video, “The Longest Par 3 in Golf!/Extreme 19th, Legend Golf Course, South Africa/Golf Destinations”, the Extreme 19th Hole is “ … the only place in the world where you can decide whether you want to walk, use a golf cart or fly to the tee box.” Aside from the obvious danger that could occur by interacting with one of the animals, a mode of transportation is needed to get to this course within the reserve … and a helicopter is the perfect vehicle for travel since the tee is located on Hanglip Mountain.
The green of this South African extreme course is comprised of hardy, sage-hued Cynodon grass. Because the Extreme 19th Hole is located in a primarily dry climate, the grass’ tolerance for heat and drought renders it as highly suitable for the course.
However, heat aside, adding to the difficulty in scoring a hole in one are the distances from the foot of the mountain to the start of the fairway, which is 280 meters, and from the foot of the mountain to the back of the green, which is 400 meters. Enhancing the complexity of playing on this par three course is that the vertical drop from the start of the fairway to the front of the green measures 21 meters!
According to the 2011 Issue #11 of ARISE, a shot from the tee may take a half minute “… from leaving the tee to land on the green, which is shaped like Africa”. Four separate cameras trace the shots of each of the six dimpled balls, in which a tracker is contained. Following, a spotter, via technology, will obtain each of these balls.
In the February 2016 article, “Adventure Golf: Playing the ‘Extreme 19th’ Hole at the Legend Golf & Safari Resort in South Africa” printed in Golf Advisor, golfing journalist Jason Scott Deegan attested to the amazing experience of playing on the par three course. Deegan exclaimed, “Who wouldn’t have a blast playing the world’s longest and most terrifying par 3? The 400-yard hole drops roughly 400 yards off a cliff-top tee box on Hanglip mountain to a massive green shaped like the continent of Africa … The 45-minute adventure to hit six shots off a mountain is simply too cool for words. I came to South Africa thinking it would be a gimmick. I left believing that every golfer should be fortunate enough to give it a go.”
Riddle’s gorgeous and unique design of the green being created in the shape of Africa was to celebrate the African Renaissance and the positive changes that Africa continues to experience. Aside from the extreme 19th hole, the other 18 holes are more traditional in design and were created in collaboration with professional golfers including Sergio García, Pádraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie.
Persons who have played on this course include professional golf players Montgomerie, K.J. Choi, Retief Goosen, Bernard Langer and Vijay Singh. While Barbadian professional cricketer Franklyn Stephenson was the first to attain a birdie, Harrington was the first ever to score par. Choi, García, Raphaël Jacquelin and Justin Rose have all carded bogeys.
Nonprofessional players have had success on this par three course as well. Formula One Champion, Briton Lewis Hamilton, is listed among the few who have made a par on the hole. The first American to score par on the Extreme 19th Hole was actor Morgan Freeman!
In the “Extreme 19th” article stub of HK Golfer, the editors wrote, “Harrington said, ‘This is the type of innovation and excitement we need to get more people playing golf. There aren’t many new innovative ways to play the game but this is certainly one of the best. I think this hole is awesome.’”
As of 2020, no one has scored a hole in one.