1 Fairway Avenue,
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For over a hundred years, Royal Johannesburg and Kensington golf clubs each went their separate ways until 1998 when they amalgamated to form a new club. The Kensington property was sold and the money used to upgrading the clubhouse and the two courses on the Johannesburg site, thus ensuring the new club would be fit for purpose at the start of a new century.
The championship East is the longer of the two courses (though they each measure in excess of 7,000 yards) and both are fine examples of classic suburban parkland layouts that rely heavily on trees and water to protect par.
The West course was the original layout used by the Johannesburg members when they first moved to their current location in 1909. It was designed by Scotsman Laurie Waters, four-time winner of the South African Open, who also laid out the course at Durban County Club and at clubs in the Belgian Congo, Nyasaland, and both Northern and Southern Rhodesia.
Bob Grimsdell carried out some revisions in the early
1930s then Harry Colt’s design associate C. H. Alison advised on further
improvements in the late 1940s. Alison came to the club and stayed with the
club secretary Charles Coetzer at his house on the property. Coetzer then drove
him around the course to wherever he wanted to go. When questioned about
filling in a particular fairway bunker, Alison replied: “The bunker doesn’t
work hard enough. Bunkers must work and earn their keep, for they are costly to
The four par threes on the scorecard are all feature holes on the West course (especially the downhill 16th, played over water) but many regard the 372-yard 4th as the signature hole. A tributary of the Jukskei River runs down the left of a narrow fairway with trees on the right hand side. A stream cutting in front of the putting surface, with greenside bunkers awaiting any pulled shots to the left then hampers the approach.
Host venue to the Joburg Open since 2007, Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club were able to lay claim (for a couple of years) to being the only golf club visited by the European Tour where more than one course is used for a single event. The Joburg Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship were the only two events on the European Tour International Schedule where two or more courses were used and the Alfred Dunhill Championship is spread across three separate clubs – St Andrews (Old), Carnoustie (Championship) and Kingsbarns. However, in 2010 the Singapore Open joined the party, where the event was played across Sentosa’s Serapong and Tanjong courses.
The East course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington now measures 7,592 yards from the tips, making it one of the longest courses on the European Tour. The West course measures a more modest 7,237 yards!
The West course is okay. It's a nice warm-up for the main event. There are some really nice holes including 4, 5, 11, 16. It is about as scrabble a course can get, so make sure you beat your handicap :)
Rumour is that in summer they are redoing the bunkering like they did on the East course a few years ago. After that, the course will be very good.