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Killarney

Johannesburg - Gauteng

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Operations manager: Barry Steen
Greens and Grounds manager: Rudie Nortje
Club captain and President: Tony Berlowitz
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 70 out of 100
Conditioning15.4 / 20
Playability15.1 / 20
Aesthetics9.5 / 15
Design Variety11.2 / 15
Shot Values9.1 / 15
Memorability9.7 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

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

Visitor green fee

R275 weekdays before 8
R350 weekdays
R540 weekends
R350 Sunday PM

Course designer

Robert Trent Jones 1970

Contact

011 442 3880
www.killarneycountryclub.co.za

Previous Ranking

59 (2021) & 67 (2020)

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.

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

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.

Course and Facilities Rating
Conditioning Ratings
Greens
Bunkers
Tees
Fairways
Presentation
Overall Conditioning
Facility Ratings
Pace of Play
Practice Range
Halfway House
Pro Shop
Service
Locker Room
19th Hole
Course Etiquette
Course Reviews
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. This is a good course to walk, and the fairways are in great condition. The only areas that need attention are the fairway bunkers and some of the 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
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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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