Welcome to extreme golf
Set high up on the impressive Hanglip Mountain, the Extreme 19th is accessible only by helicopter and played to a green the shape of Africa some 400m below. CLIVE AGRAN took his chance to try
for a hole in one of a lifetime. . .
If I were to confess to you that my mouth turns dry and knees go wobbly whenever I climb half-way up a step-ladder, you will perhaps appreciate the enormous courage I exhibited in agreeing to take on the world’s most talked about and unique Par 3, the Extreme 19th at Legend Golf and Safari Resort.
The stats alone are enough to make me feel slightly nauseous but here goes.
It’s a par three, the tee box of which is perilously perched 1410 feet (430m) above the green.
Although the total distance from tee to green as the pelican flies is 642 yards (587m), the actual horizontal distance the ball has to travel is a more modest 400 yards (370m) or thereabouts, depending on where they put the pin.
Unless you top it, the ball takes about 25 seconds to reach the ground and so you could, in theory at least, slice your tee shot towards the jungle and hit a provisional long before your first shot has landed.
Some tee shots have hit the green, albeit landing in sub-Saharan Africa. As each player steps up to the plate, so crunch time creeps closer.
As I pace nervously about, those yet to go approach me, ask how I feel and reveal that they, too, are suffering. It is some comfort to know that I am not alone.
As the merry band of ‘reluctants’ diminishes, I increasingly envy those who have hit. It’s like entering a freezing swimming pool; the longer you leave it, the worse it is.
At some point you simply have to take the plunge. Not wishing to be stone cold last, I volunteer to be the penultimate victim.
A guy scribbles my initials and number ‘1’on a brand new Titleist, tees it up, notices the blood draining from my face and the nervous chatter dribbling from my mouth and kindly moves the ball back six inches. Any further and my back swing will graze the boulder behind.
If I had ever developed a pre-shot routine during my undistinguished golf career, now would be the time to deploy it.
Instead I simply avoid looking anywhere but at the ball. I then swing, make surprisingly good contact and sprint away from the edge towards safety.
There’s a long pause before those who have the nerve to follow it break the predictable news that it hasn’t made it.
Still, one literally a long way down and only two to go. My second also fails but, more importantly, the ordeal is now nearly over.
Anticipating the end, I relax a tad and not only crunch the third but also, remarkably, watch the ball as it flies into space.
Although I don’t, of course, witness it myself because I have by now retreated to a place of comparative safety, I learn that one of the markers is waving his arms to indicate that my ball has made it.
Relief at not having to hit any more balls combined with euphoria at clearing the jungle causes me to run around hysterically for at least twice as long as it took my ball to reach the ground.
I am still buzzing as I take my customary four shots to get up and down. A nine! Never in the history of our great game has a sextuple-bogey felt so good.
YOUR GOLF BREAK YOUR WAY
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