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Killarney

Johannesburg - Gauteng

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General manager: Jason Dedekind
Golf manager: Nieuwoudt Hendrikse
Greens and grounds manager: Rudie Nortje
Club captain: Darryn Faulds
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 71.1 out of 100
Conditioning15.4 / 20
Playability15.1 / 20
Aesthetics9.9 / 15
Design Variety11.2 / 15
Shot Values9.4 / 15
Memorability10.1 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

Yellow 6380 metres, CR72.8/131
White 6078 metres, CR71.2/130
Blue 5631 metres, CR68.8/120
Red 5173 metres, CR66.3/117
Women’s blue, CR74.9/139
Women’s red, CR72.0/135

Visitor green fee

R280 Tuesday; Weekdays before 8.30
R355 Wednesday PM; Weekday afternoon; Sunday PM
R565 Weekends

Course designer

Robert Trent Jones 1970

Contact

011 442 3880
www.killarneycountryclub.co.za

Previous ranking

53 (2023), 53 (2022) & 59 (2021)

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 186 to 203 metres from the yellow tees.

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

60 by Roger Wessels 2007, Ryan Dreyer

Feature Holes

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.

Practice Facility

180-metre warm-up range for irons only, 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.

Club Champions

2022 Estian Fourie & Bridgette Rodriquez
2021 Estian Fourie & Janice Einhorn
2020 Ryan Dreyer & Janice Einhorn
2019 Ryan Dreyer & Jane Merrylees

Did You Know

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 won the club championship six years in a row (2015-2020), nine 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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Course Reviews
Good-conditioned course offering a variety of holes that test most aspects of your game. Accuracy on some tees is a must otherwise you could slice a ball into the adjacent M1.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
15 February 2024
This established parkland course has stood the test of time. A testing layout that places an emphasis on accurate tee shots, with greens protected by strategic and well-positioned bunkers. Turf quality on receptive greens, fairways and surrounds is excellent. Putting surfaces are deceptively quick and true and not unduly contoured like some of today's "modern" greens. An aesthetically pleasing course built for walking with no obtrusive cart paths.
Roy Jones
13 January 2024
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View more reviews
We had a cloudburst and used the shelter behind No 8 tee to stay dry. Within 20 minutes the deep and narrow channel twisting through the course had become a torrent of rushing water. The course was unaffected and dried out quickly. I found early on that Killarney is tight and off-line drives are punished in the pretty parkland environment. There's an attractive symmetry to the design, and pleasingly shaped large greens enhance the putting experience. The greens are in excellent condition, and it was evident how pacy they must be in tournament mode. The bunkering is minimal yet effective. Having 12 par 4s, two 5s, and four strong 3s, makes for a challenging day out. There are three daunting long par 4s from 7 to 10 where the round can suddenly go pear-shaped. No 8 is a breather at 350, yet this dogleg right has one of the trickiest and interesting tee shots of them all.
Stuart McLean
11 January 2024
Most impressed with the greens, bunkers and staff.
Michael Walsh
10 December 2023
I loved my round of golf at Killarney. The only Robert Trent Jones design in South Africa is a proper test of skill. You have to plan your way around a course with a good variety of doglegs. The greens were in fantastic condition. A beautiful course and so much fun to play.
Thinus Keller
23 March 2023
Killarney has improved after the club made changes enforced by the municipal work required on the waterway winding through the length of the property. The par-5 15th green is significantly better from a playability perspective. The club has gone through much change from a personnel and course perspective and seems to be in a good space. It's a tough, tight layout, and the greens could perhaps soften a touch, but an allround challenging day with little to complain about in the surrounds. The change to halfway house (up at the clubhouse) is a good refresher from the old tea house next to tenth tee.
Chris Wood
14 December 2022
Played on a busy public holiday and was absolutely blown away by Killarney. Pace of play was good considering how busy it was. The course is immaculate, truly incredible. What was so surprising was how the course did not feel narrow at all. I was surprised it was only ranked 53rd as I thought it was better than the five courses I've played that rank higher than it. Prices are reasonable too. Such a good experience.
Brad Oliver
04 May 2022
The range of courses in the north of Johannesburg is significant and Killarney is one of the solid options available. The putting surfaces are frequently in the Top 10 in the rankings – and it is clear to see why when you play the course in late summer. Killarney is a demanding layout which places a premium on placement of each tee shot. The par-4 seventh is stroke 1 and demands a solid drive into a small landing area. The greens complex is exacting and requires accuracy and good control of the approach shot. The two par 5s provide scoring opportunities but are no pushover with penalty areas guarding the left side of both the fifth and 15th holes. The par-70 course has well designed par 3s, the fourth being a favourite of many Killarney regulars. A good course to walk, with fairways in great condition. The only areas needing attention are fairway bunkers and some greenside landing areas, which are not consistently maintained. The second hole has been plagued by ongoing flooding issues along the water course, so golfers need to navigate the construction works. Killarney represents good value for money on most weekdays and will test your game, especially on and around the greens.
Jon James
04 April 2022
Championship quality course blessed with outstanding holes. Stand on either the first or tenth tee for your first shot of the day and you know that only your A game will suffice. Ryan Dreyer, a terrific golfer, won the 2020 club champs on an over-par total. Right now it's in glorious condition. Killarney also has magnificent trees, particularly between 10 and 18. The greens and bunkers here just look so natural.
Stuart McLean
20 March 2020
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