Durban Country Club golf course - hole 18
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Durban Country Club golf course - hole 18
No. 18 at Durban Country Club is one of the most unique finishing holes in tournament golf. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Images
Durban Country Club golf course - hole 1
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Durban Country Club golf course - hole 1
The first hole at Durban Country Club starts what some have called the "toughest" first five holes in golf. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Durban Country Club golf course - hole 2
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Durban Country Club golf course - hole 2
Bunkers frame the par-3 second hole at Durban Country Club in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Durban Country Club golf course - hole 3
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Durban Country Club golf course - hole 3
Jungle pinches the par-5 third hole at Durban Country Club in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Durban Country Club golf course - hole 4
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Durban Country Club golf course - hole 4
The fourth hole at Durban Country Club tumbles downhill. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Durban Country Club golf course - hole 5
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Durban Country Club golf course - hole 5
No. 5, a long par 4, is ranked the toughest handicap hole at Durban Country Club in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Durban Country Club golf course - hole 8
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Durban Country Club golf course - hole 8
A gaping bunker intrudes on the second shot of the par-5 eighth hole at Durban Country Club in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Durban Country Club golf course - hole 9
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Durban Country Club golf course - hole 9
The ninth hole at Durban Country Club is pretty flat and straightforward, but it still plays tough. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Durban Country Club golf course - hole 12
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Durban Country Club golf course - hole 12
The par-3 12th hole at Durban Country Club drops off dramatically on either side of the green. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Durban Country Club golf course - hole 16
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Durban Country Club golf course - hole 16
Thick jungle encroaches on the approach shot to the 16th green at Durban Country Club in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Durban C.C. golf course - 18th hole and clubhouse
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Durban C.C. golf course - 18th hole and clubhouse
The 250-meter finishing hole at Durban Country Club supposedly gave up scores of 1, 2, 3 and 4 to a foursome. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor

Classic golf lives on at Durban Country Club in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa

KWAZULU-NATAL, South Africa -- Perhaps no golf course in the world generates such a difference of opinions than Durban Country Club.

Golf Magazine dishes out the ultimate compliment, ranking the historic host of 17 South African Opens 97th in the world in 2015. Golf Digest South Africa isn't as enamored, relegating the classic George Waterman design to 11th -- in the country. Leaning toward the higher ranking makes the most sense. Durban Country Club is special in so many ways.

The 6,157-meter routing is sandwiched between a highway overlooking the "Golden Mile," a celebrated beach on the Indian Ocean, and the Moses Mabhida Stadium, a 70,000-seat soccer stadium that hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Downtown Durban dominates the skyline if you look backward off the opening tees. None of this crush of civilization holds any relevance once players descend from the elevated tees into the narrow confines of the first five holes. The jungle provides the buffer.

Some fairways roil like the nearby seas, naturally undulating in the sand dunes Waterman discovered back in 1922. The par-5 third is the first of many world-class holes. A predatory bunker serves as a wall of sand guarding the left side of the fairway on the second shot.

The layout hits a lull at times on flatter ground in the middle of the round until the perplexing par-3 12th hole. The green falls off dramatically on either side, leaving some flustered players chipping back and forth a time or two. The humps and hollows of the rippling 17th fairway feel like a roller-coaster ride in a cart.

The final hole ends the day with drama. Anything from ace to double bogey is in play on the drivable par 4 of 250 meters (roughly 327 yards). Just swing away, aiming at the left side of the fairway, and hope the ball gets a fortunate bounce. What a fun finish to one of golf's greatest rounds.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Classic golf lives on at Durban Country Club in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa
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