Qualifying for the season ending European tour championship in Dubai is one of golfer Ryan Fox's main aims in South Africa this week.

The other is surviving on a golf course which is also home to the lethal black mamba snake.

The Nebank Golf Challenge at Sun City gets the golfers close up with a variety of animals.

But the black mamba is something else. It is one of the world's most venomous snakes, and grows to a massive three metres.


"It's a pretty nasty golf course, with bush pretty much both sides of every hole which is infested with black mamba snakes which is not a whole lot of fun in there," said Fox.

"It is quite nice that you can see elephants from the golf course, there are warthogs on the course and lots of other animals. It's just the snakes you don't want to see.

"No one goes in (to the bush), you just re-load, it's pretty ugly in in there. Even if you do find it you don't want to try to hit out of it.

"There is plenty of room to hit it – takes a bad shot to go into the bush.

"But it can be a fairly intimidating golf course at times especially when the breeze is up – there are some pretty tough tee shots.

It is Fox's third visit to the Gary Player course in North West province. He lies 54th on the European list, and needs to climb into the top 50 to make the Dubai event.

After a poor start at the last tournament in Turkey, he had three strong rounds to tie for 21st.

He hopes his previous experiences at Sun City stand him in good stead dealing with conditions which can cause good shots to end up in tough places.


"Figuring out your yardages is probably the most important thing," he told Radio Sport.

"We're playing at 4000 feet this week, the course is in a little valley between some pretty big hills and the wind swirls.

"It's pretty hot so it's hard to judge how far the ball goes and I've struggled with that the last couple of years. That's brought back some memories today of how far the ball can go. I had a couple of nine irons that went 180 metres. It's a little bit hard to get used to.

"Driver goes a fair decent distance - an average drive is going 320 330 metres. But it's a funny thing with driver because at altitude the air is thinner, the ball doesn't spin as much, so it requires a little bit to keep the ball in the air. If you hit it low it almost goes shorter .

"It's all dependent on flight and wind but when you get everything in your favour the ball certainly goes a long, long way."

"It's one of those weeks the field spreads out. You could be sitting 40th going into the last day and get it going, shoot six or seven under and get into the top 20. You do get rewarded for good golf this week but you've got to be patient."

Fox leads the Australasian order of merit and is keen to snare that title, which would bring other benefits including entry into the British Open. His short term plans include the Australian Open in Sydney early next month.