Yellow 6486 metres, CR73.7/138
White 6218 metres, CR72.4/135
Blue 5803 metres, CR70.3/132
Red 5438 metres, CR68.6/125
Women’s blue, CR76.8/144
Women’s red, CR74.2/139
Laurie Waters 1912,
Bob Grimsdell 1930,
Phil Jacobs 2007
012 667 1081
Irene is an extremely attractive walk in scenic countryside. Golf has been played on this site for more than a century, although the old parkland course received a splendid and transformative redesign by Phil Jacobs (2007), who had a successful career as Gary Player’s chief designer. Irene enjoys some gently undulating terrain, and this is both a fun and challenging layout to play, quirky and varied. It suits golfers who are good with their short irons, because you use them regularly.
The Hennops River flows through the heart of the course, moving on from Irene to the neighbouring Centurion golf estate, and it comes into play often enough to be a useful hazard.
Jacobs sculpted some handsome modern greens which have made putting that much trickier, and moved fairway bunkers to tighten the strategy off the tee for today’s longer-hitting golfer. These improvements not only enhanced the experience, but made Irene fit to host tournaments again.
Irene was once a farm, then a quiet country village, isolated from Pretoria, but development has encroached on the area. Housing borders a few holes, yet the charm of the old Irene still remains. As the club centenary booklet mentions, where else while playing golf would you find “a herd of cows sauntering up an adjoining shady lane, a troop of frolicking monkeys on a fairway, or melodic parakeets in the trees?” There’s a cricket oval on the property bordering the second and 18th holes. This is a proper old style country club, catering for a variety of sporting sections.
61 by Laurie Canter, 2013 Tshwane Open Pre-Q, with 11 birdies.
Irene boasts one of the best pulpit par 3 holes, the 135-metre seventh, played from a high tee over the river to the green. That’s followed by a superb short par 4 (304m), known as Gobbler, where the right positioning on the fairway is key to playing the approach back over the river to an elevated green. The back nine is hillier, starting with the par-5 tenth, and the 14th is an outstanding downhill par 4, 432m from the back, with out of bounds on the right and a large water hazard guarding the left front of a broad green. Every hole has been given a simple descriptive name, such as Island for the par-3 16th.
Fair-sized range close to range, and putting green.
2020 Lean Boezaart & Bonqiwe Shabalala
2019 Gustav Verster & Francesca Bosman
1/ Seven Davis Cup tennis matches involving the South African team have been played at Irene in recent years. The club has six courts, four under lights.
2/ Irene was the home club of top SA professional Dylan Frittelli when he was a junior. And Hall of Fame legend John Bland also grew up playing there. His father John was the secretary/greenkeeper and their home adjoined the course. John and his brother Roy won 10 club championships.
3/ The Jan Smuts House Museum is across the road from the club in Irene’s Jan Smuts Avenue. This is where the famous statesman entertained world leaders. Smuts was an Irene member but not a golfer. He did have a few practice swings, pronouncing golf too mechanical for his taste. He did use the course though for walking.
4/ Irene hosts the Gauteng North Silver Salver, and the 2020 winner was 17-year-old Christiaan Maas (Pretoria CC) with an exceptional 72-hole score of 27-under 261. The title was won in 2019 by 16-year-old Casey Jarvis with 270, including a 9-birdie 63.
Scenic walk around this extremely playable course. With a river winding through it a real test to keep the ball in play. Rough doesn't really exist so more enjoyable than most courses. Greens usually run true at a decent pace.
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