Johannesburg - Gauteng
CEO: Robby Richardson
Head professional: Richard Kaplan
Golf director: Letitia Roestoff
Greenkeeper: Stuart Ross
Club captain: Barney Girnun
President: Adrian Diamond
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 73.8 out of 100
Conditioning14.4 / 20
Playability14.6 / 20
Aesthetics12.3 / 15
Design Variety12.0 / 15
Shot Values10.5 / 15
Memorability10.0 / 15
Four tees / Par 72
Yellow 6656 metres, CR74.9/145
White 6403 metres, CR73.3/142
Blue 5943 metres, CR70.4/139
Red 5181 metres, CR66.1/129
Women’s blue, CR77.4/151
Women’s red, CR72.2/141
Visitor green fee
R485 Sunday afternoon
Jack Nicklaus 2010
011 728 7337
36 (2022) & 42 (2021)
Houghton, which is celebrating its centenary, is a famous name in the annals of South African golf, a strong and proud club founded in 1923 and strongly associated with championship moments of which they have had as many as any other club in the land.
Today the club has reinvented itself in a way that defines the way golf is progressing in the 21st century.
A new Jack Nicklaus Signature course was built on the same property to replace the old parkland layout, and luxury high-rise apartments and a hotel have emerged alongside one corner of the course. A modern state-of-the-art one-storey clubhouse with basement parking stands attractively in the middle of the course overlooking the first hole and 18th.
The new course, opened in 2010, again hosted a DP World Tour championship (its first since 2003) when the 15th Joburg Open was held for the first time at Houghton in November 2022. It was won by Englishman Dan Bradbury on a total of 21-under-par 263, including an opening round of 63. The par-5 15th was shortened to play as a par 4 in the tournament.
Nicklaus turned the old Houghton on its head with his stunningly beautiful design concept. On this wonderfully undulating tree-lined property he reversed the direction of several of the old holes, situating a green where there previously was a tee, and vice versa. Those who remember the old course will be astounded by his ingenuity. The modern sloping greens and the creative bunkering look, notably on the uphill par-4 17th, are a feature of the layout.
Read: PAYOFF TIME FOR HOUGHTON & HERMANUS
Additional Course Facts
Houghton’s back tee measurement is relatively short by today’s highveld standards, with five par 4s under 375 metres, but this remains a highly challenging layout, with more than enough water hazards and bunkers to catch the unwary. The 12th is one of the most dangerous par-4s, particularly since a new green was built into the water hazard in 2018. Water encloses the green on three sides, with a large bunker on the left. The seventh has also been rebuilt; now a spectacular par 3 over water in an amphitheatre overlooked by The Houghton apartments.
Houghton held the 2022 Joburg Open on the DP World Tour (won by Dan Bradbury on 21-under 263) and has been one of SA’s premier championship venues, hosting 29 major professional tournaments since World War Two, including 8 SA Opens (Bobby Locke 1951, Harold Henning 1962, Gary Player 1966-68-79, Dale Hayes 1976, Tony Johnstone 1984, Ernie Els 1992) and 8 additional European Tour events under the Alfred Dunhill sponsorship from 1996 to 2003. And it was the site in February 1995 of a famous 14-11 victory for a Southern African 9-man team against Australasia in a Ryder Cup-type contest that was sadly never to be repeated.
Full-size range, grass tees for members, mats for visitors; two putting greens and short-game facility. Houghton also has a fun 9-hole putting green (see Did you know).
62 by Tristen Strydom (11 birdies) in March 2020 Sunshine Tour Qualifying School
Did You Know
1/ Head professional Richard Kaplan is celebrated for his second place finish in a European Tour event at Houghton, the 1999 Alfred Dunhill PGA won by Ernie Els. Kaplan, a Houghton member for nearly 50 years, represented South Africa as an amateur in the 1980s.
2/ Gary Player has enjoyed considerable success at Houghton. He won 7 tournaments there, including 3 SA Opens, 3 SA Masters, and 1 SA PGA. And he captained a SA team to victory over Australasia in the 1995 Alfred Dunhill Challenge.
3/ There is a 9-hole putting facility situated in front of The Houghton apartments, a putting course of par 3s and par 4s, on bent grass, with flat bunkers, waste areas and ponds.
4/ Houghton is an upmarket suburb close to the Johannesburg city centre where Nelson Mandela had his residence after becoming president.
2022 Jonathan Josset & Dolar Vasani
2021 Judd Sundelson & Dolar Vasani
2020 Brett Berman & Dolar Vasani
2019 Ryan Nestadt & Sue Cogswell
Course and Facilities Rating
The conditioning at Houghton is massively improved. Kudos to Richard Kaplan and his team. Greens are being rolled and notwithstanding the slopes are incredibly playable. A lesson to other top courses in the Joburg area that do not roll their greens. It allows for better putting and takes away the bobble factor by smoothing imperfections. Houghton's bunker improvement programme has resulted in well-presented and consistent bunkers. Tee boxes and fairways also in good nick.
24 May 2023
The benefits of hosting a tour event (2023 Joburg Open) are evident at Houghton which is in superb condition. Attention to detail and presentation of the course is remarkable given the challenging weather maintenance teams have faced in Gauteng. The putting surfaces roll true and fast. The bunker project has paid dividends and consistency is excellent. The par 5s are interesting (3, 5, 10 and 15) and provide birdie opportunities if you can play to the correct portions of the greens. It was astonishing to watch the tour pros play No 15, a par 5 for members, as a par 4 in the Joburg Open, and hit as little as an 8-iron for their seconds. No 16 is an excellent downhill par 3 towards the clubhouse. Houghton's service levels are outstanding.
13 April 2023
Top-class facilities with a great course to match, far removed from the original highly rated layout. I dare to say that the Jack Nicklaus redesign has improved on the old one. Expect to find strategically placed bunkering and the need to carefully plan your shots from the tee box and approaches to the green. A well-conditioned parkland course well worth a visit.
07 December 2022
Enjoyed the beautiful variety of holes at Houghton watching the Joburg Open. It's a brilliantly balanced course in terms of where tour pros can attack and where to show caution. The greens were outstanding, both in condition and in their varied contours to provide edgy pin positions. I will use the remarkable length off the tee of Wilco Nienaber to illustrate Houghton's strengths and weaknesses. There were five holes that Nienaber dominated, the three par 5s (3, 5 and 10) and two short par 4s (1 and 17). He was 16-under on these holes, yet 8-over on the other 13. Both the first and 17th played a little like long par 3s, yielding 290 birdies and 2 eagles. I was pleased to see one of the club's normal par-5s (15) played as a par 4. Another par 5, either 3 or 5, should also have been a 4 for this tournament. Everyone was hitting irons for their second shots (55 eagles and 495 birdies on the two of them). They played to a lower scoring average than 15. In the highveld, anything under 520 metres should be a 4 for the pros. That would give a more realistic judge of the course's defence in terms of sub-par scores.
29 November 2022
Pleased to see Houghton back as a DP World Tour venue after being absent for almost 20 years. Their beautiful clubhouse with its modern interior will be a feature of the TV coverage. It becomes the third club to host the Joburg Open, being played for the 15th time from November 24-27. Royal J&K had the first 11, and Randpark the last three. Houghton's greens are creatively designed with their different levels and slopes, and the pros will have to putt with imagination. The course is in good condition but needs rain to green up the fairways and create definition. It will play as a par-71 layout, with the 15th, the best of four excellent par 5s, being played as a par 4 from a forward tee. The back tee at 15 is too close to the 11th tee boxes in a tournament situation. No 15 is one of six holes where water hazards guard the green.
19 October 2022
The final piece of the jigsaw is in place at Houghton, and viewing the course today it is remarkable how many changes have been implemented (including two redesigned holes) to evolve this into a far more playable layout to the one Jack Nicklaus opened more than a decade ago. Finally the members have stopped complaining about its deficiencies and irritations (the undulating greens to begin with) and started to enjoy and appreciate what is an exceptional design. Last year's bunker project by Timeless Golf was massive. The jagged edges and steep faces have been removed, the bases of the bunkers lifted as much as 30cm in height. Recovery shots are easier, as is the exit process for older golfers. There are still 64 bunkers, fewer than most would have thought looking from the clubhouse at all the sand on the first and 17th holes. The bunker complexes have softer edges and turned down grass which better suits the parkland look. Some bunkers have been shrunk, others split into two. The fairway corridor on 17 is wider. They are still an integral part of the design, particularly in terms of aesthetics, but less menacing. The course conditioning is looking at its best.
03 April 2022
Houghton has several really great and testing holes. The current positions of the fairway bunkers feel like they need adjusting for the modern game. An enjoyable experience in an attractive setting where you feel tucked away from a busy city while out on the course.
29 January 2022
There are many golfers who mourn the loss of the old Houghton layout, yet the Jack Nicklaus design (or is it a redesign?) on the same property has many terrific holes and deserves equal respect. The distinctive ups and downs of the terrain still evoke memories of the classic championship course and thus its heritage can never be entirely erased. I like the way Nicklaus creatively re-aligned the flow of play, so that some new holes play in the opposite direction to how we know the holes from past years. The undulating front nine is strong and every hole an enjoyable challenge. The back nine is a squeeze in places, yet what a grand finish starting with the par-5 15th; a superb collection of closing holes. No 16 is a thrilling downhill par 3 to a green guarded by water, then comes an uphill short par 4 carpeted with bunkers. The dogleg 18th might be the best par-4 closing hole in Gauteng.
01 January 2022
Houghton is an enjoyable Nicklaus design in the heart of Johannesburg. At the time of playing the course was beautifully presented, albeit the greens were running fairly slowly at 9 on the stimp. The bunkering is intimidating and some of the carries a challenge. Scoring opportunities come on the par 5s which are all reachable by Highveld standards. The facilities are exceptional and the standard of service consistently excellent.
09 April 2021
Greens tricky at the best of times, too undulating for a good putting round. Conditioning always good and a great facility.
18 April 2020
I was surprised to learn that Houghton is no longer an official Jack Nicklaus Signature design. In-house changes made by the club to the seventh and 12th greens did not meet with approval. Yet the new seventh green makes this a far superior par 3, and 12 has gone from a silly par 4 for members to one that remains challenging yet fun to play. The original undulating Nicklaus greens which frustrated golfers are now more playable. Houghton today without the Signature element is a stupendous experience.
20 March 2020
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