Speaking after the function, Compleat Golfer’s John Botha, who is the convenor of the course ranking panel, was effusive in his praise for the new course, which happens to be built on the same land on which Els’ late grandfather Ernie Vermaak grew up: “It was patently clear to our panel that Gardener Ross is a magnificent course and, as good as it is now, it has huge potential to continue to grow in stature. The construction is excellent and the shaping and greens complexes are brilliant. It is clearly a modern course, but the greens especially have a classic feel to them without too many unnecessary bumps and swales. But where it really stands out for us is in its bunkering and its well thought-out positioning of the multiple tee complexes.”

Speaking on behalf of Ernie Els Design, company President Mike Kenny said: “Considering the wealth of new courses being opened in South Africa at the moment, it is a great honour to be recognised in this way and is just reward for Gardener Ross’ developers, who have been very supportive of Ernie Els Design throughout the design and construction process.”

Ernie Els commented on the award by saying “This is a great day for Ernie Els Design. Greg Letsche, our Senior Design Associate, and I really enjoyed working on the project and letting our creativity flow. Our company is really moving in the right direction with more exciting projects underway.”

Gardener Ross is just the second Ernie Els Signature Design opened in South Africa after Oubaai in Herold’s Bay in the Western Cape. At present the company has 10 design projects internationally and three projects in various stages of construction in South Africa, which include Highlands Gate in Dullstroom, Nondela in the Northern Drakensberg and Lahleni Lakes in Witbank. Ernie Els Design also recently secured Lejwe la Metsi in Bela Bela as the home of the first Els Club in Southern Africa.