Yellow 6385 metres, CR73.5/143
White 6092 metres, CR71.7/141
Blue 5786 metres, CR69.9/137
Red 5243 metres, CR67.0/131
Women’s blue, CR76.7/153
Women’s red, CR73.3/147
Robert Trent Jones 1970
011 442 3880
Killarney is the only Robert Trent Jones design in South Africa, and getting the legendary American course architect to come here was quite a coup for the club. Jones visited the country in 1968 at a fraction of his normal fee, which even then was about $250 000.
Former club pro David Black recalls meeting Jones at the 1967 US Open and persuading him to take a look at the challenge facing Killarney which was losing parts of their course to the new M1 motorway. “We got him out here for $10 000 and six first-class air tickets, because he thought he could get design work at other courses,” said Black.
Jones didn’t personally supervise the course design because of an argument with the club over the clubhouse which saw him leave early, but left his design plans for Bob Grimsdell and Brian Wilkes to work from.
The motorway now adjoins a narrow golf course property – no more than two holes wide – which is split into three parts due to arterial roads and connected by tunnels. Killarney, with Golf Data having rebuilt the greens in the 1990s, is a very good par 70 championship layout at a club which seldom hosts tournaments. The most recent was a Sunshine Tour Qualifying School event in 2018 where the average score was 74.92. There were 405 double-bogeys or worse.
Water hazards and ditches feature prominently on the cleverly designed layout, and the quartet of par 3s would qualify as one of the toughest sets in South Africa, varying from 175 to 203 metres.
60 by Roger Wessels 2007, Ryan Dreyer
Killarney is the only Top 100 course with just two par 5s on the card, Nos 5 and 15, which means it is a tough par 70 layout with plenty of strong par 4s. Even from the club tees the Course Rating is 71.7. Back-to-back you won’t find two more challenging par 4s than the 421-metre dogleg left ninth, with water in front of the green, and the straightaway 443m 10th, where a long second shot needs to be shaped around trees to find the green. Fortunately golfers can take a breather in between playing them at the halfway house.
180-metre warm-up range, plus short game area. Killarney is home to the EOGA Academy, which began in the Western Cape. The Academy runs women’s and junior programmes to grow the game. The old halfway house has been converted into an indoor fitting station which includes the SAM Puttlab – one of only two in Gauteng. Clubfitting is provided.
Ryan Dreyer & Jane Merrylees
1/ Killarney CC began in 1903 as the Transvaal Automobile Club, before becoming a country club with various sports. The golf course opened in 1929. The club still offers bowls, tennis, squash, swimming pool and a gym, plus restaurants and banqueting facilities. There are 502 golf members.
2/ Killarney was the first club to have bent grass greens in South Africa, back in 1970, on the recommendation of Robert Trent Jones. At the time most greens had indigenous cynodon grasses.
3/ Former SA Amateur champion Ryan Dreyer has won the club championship five years in a row, eight times in all, and shares the course record of 60. He won the SA Amateur at Benoni CC in 2009 at age 36, and has represented South Africa.
4/ Mark McNulty won two Sunshine Tour titles at Killarney 16 years apart, the 1982 Sharp Classic (274) and 1998 Vodacom Players Championship (275). Denis Watson had a 61 in the Sharp Classic which was only the second time a 61 had been scored in South Africa.
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