Founded in 1967 by businessman Punch Barlow, the River Club is an ultra-exclusive golf club located in the well-to-do Sandton district of Johannesburg. Unlike most top South African courses, the River Club do not operate a pay-and-play facility so the only chance of a game here is through a membership or as a guest of a member (and caddies are compulsory).
Those fortunate enough to get a game here at “the Augusta National of South Africa” will find tree-lined fairways, interesting bunker complexes and first class greens laid out over gently undulating terrain. Water comes into play at several holes as the Braamfontein Spruit (“Bramble Fountain Stream”) flows through the property and is incorporated into the design at holes 13 to 15.
Like most good courses, the routing seems to get stronger as the round progresses and the back nine culminates in three terrific holes. The 499-yard, par four 16th is one of the toughest holes in the country, followed by an equally demanding long par three 17th played over water, ending with a home hole where the green is protected by both sand and water – what price a 4,3,4 finish?