Royal Johannesburg & Kensington (West)

Johannesburg - Gauteng

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CEO: Christopher Bentley
Operations manager: Jayde Rademeyer
Head professional: Greg Jacobs
Course manager: Shaun Brits
Club captain: Nick Watt-Pringle
Chairman: Gordon Odgers
CRITERIA SUMMARY: Total points 72.1 out of 100
Conditioning15.2 / 20
Playability14.2 / 20
Aesthetics12.5 / 15
Design Variety11.0 / 15
Shot Values9.2 / 15
Memorability10.0 / 15

Course Summary

Four tees / Par 72

Blue 6586 metres, CR73.8/137
Yellow 6255 metres, CR72.3/131
White 5859 metres, CR70.3/125
Red 5280 metres, CR67.1/119
Women’s white, CR76.7/146
Women’s red, CR72.8/139

Visitor green fee

Affiliated R480 weekday;
R640 weekend
Non-affiliated R700

Course designer

Laurie Waters 1910, Colonel SV Hotchkin 1929, Bob Grimsdell 1935


011 640 3021

Previous ranking


Royal’s West Course, being considerably shorter than the adjoining championship East Course, is a favourite among club members. Length is really the only distinction between the two attractive parkland layouts, because the West covers the same undulating tree-lined terrain, with a similar quota of water hazards. A natural stream runs through the two courses, entering near the sixth tee West and departing at the sixth green East. It impacts on eight holes on the West and seven on the East.

It does play easier than the East, yet there is no shortage of challenging holes, and nothing that remotely resembles a weak hole. That’s a strength of both the courses at Royal.

Golf was first played on this site in 1910, and the original West’s chief asset was that it had grass greens, uncommon for that era, from the outset.

The West is due for a major upgrade by Golf Data in July 2020, new bunkers and new greens, to complement the work completed on the East in 2018. To differentiate the 36-hole golfing experience at Royal, it will have a contrasting theme to the East Course, plus an entirely new sixth hole, due to property development in that area.

Having had 36 holes for more than 80 years, Royal has long been looked up to as one of the foremost golf clubs in the southern hemisphere, and today it continues a great historic tradition going back to 1891 with exceptionally high standards of quality service and presentation. Its clubhouse resonates with history, from the foyer to the locker rooms.

Additional Course Facts

Course Record

61 by Charl Schwartzel in 2011 Joburg Open.

Feature Holes

South Africa does not do enough “short” par 3s, and the West has one of the finest examples at No 5, which plays between 95 and 111 metres from its four tees. A flick wedge across a water hazard to a narrow green yet to be treated with the utmost respect. The green is narrow and sloping, and any approach short or long of the pin can prove troublesome. The par-3 eighth is twice as long, and possibly the best of the par 3s at the club, played from an elevated tee to an unevenly shaped green that falls away on the right. The long par-3 third is a uniquely attractive hole, downhill to a dogleg fairway moving left.

Practice Facility

Lengthy range and golf academy 100 metres from clubhouse adjoining the West Course tenth hole. Excellent short-game facility in front of clubhouse. Martin Briede is the Head Teaching Professional and academy owner, and former SA Open champion Gavan Levenson works under him as a teaching professional. Both are ranked among the top teachers in South Africa.

Club Champions

2019 Kian Rose & Eleonora Galletti.
2020 Kian Rose & Eleonora Galletti.
(Kian Rose has won men’s title three years in a row.)

Did You Know

1/ Johannesburg Golf Club became Royal Johannesburg in 1931, the Prince of Wales having first played the original West Course in 1925 and again in 1930.

2/ Royal J&K will make history in February 2020 by hosting both the SA Amateur men’s and women’s championships in the same week on the East and West courses, a unique occurrence. It will be held at Royal until 2022.

3/ When Royal opened 36 holes for the first time in 1935, both courses started at the old clubhouse and were known as the Old and New. The Old had a 230-metre 19th hole up a hill to the clubhouse.

4/ The first tournament 62 in SA was by Bobby Locke on West Course in 1952 Stanley Motors Open. Club member Duncan Lindsay Smith had a record 28 on back nine in 1978 Silver Vase to shoot 63.

5/ The first men’s SA Amateur over matchplay was contested on the West in 1925, and the final was between two club members. Tom McLelland beat AL Forster 2up over 36 holes.

6/ Original course designer Laurie Waters won four SA Opens, the last of those in 1920 on his home course. He was club pro from 1898 to 1920.

7/ The original clubhouse, opened in 1911, became home to Old Johannians hockey club in 1939.

Course and Facilities Rating
Conditioning Ratings
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Facility Ratings
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19th Hole
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Course Reviews
Played on a glorious May day. Fairways still green but getting some run. Greens have recovered well from recent aerating programme and were very good. A wonderful course to play as it is not too difficult.
Michael Faber
19 May 2021
Royal West presents a well balanced and enjoyable golfing test. Fairways, greens and rough are in very good condition, but the teeing areas are not kept to anything like the same standard. It’s a pity that the excellent greens are slow, as speedier greens would add greatly to the challenge and enjoyment in playing this course.
Mark Lynam
10 March 2021
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RJK West is suitable for all levels of golfers. While RJK East has its emphasis on length, West emphasises Playability and Shotmaking with a variety of interesting and challenging holes. It's no wonder the senior category of members much prefer this course. Conditioning is excellent which adds to the altogether enjoyable golf experience.
Terry Knight
21 January 2021
Always an excellent experience playing either course at Royal. The West was in superb condition, greens a little slower than you would expect but they held approach shots well. Stunning scenery around the course.
Craig Gunther
19 January 2021
The West Course is often considered as "the least" compared with "the beast" or East Course, and not a destination in its own right. For the average golfer, though, from 8 handicap up, the West is far more playable, still challenging and enjoyable. The Poa greens are in superb condition with an average stimp reading of 10 depending on ambient weather conditions. The bunkers have a low rating due to sand inconsistency but remain playable.
Vaughan Sammons
22 December 2020
The West is supposed to be the easier of the two courses at Royal. Don't let that lull you into a false sense of security as there are some really difficult holes. Overall it may be shorter than the East, yet there are some special and very hard holes. The stroke 1, No 7, may be the most difficult of the 36 at Royal. A few dogleg holes make it play differently to the East. The East may be brilliant, but the West is considered more fun to play.
Doron Neuhaus
18 November 2020
The West Course holds its own against the East at Royal. Fantastic layout and usually well conditioned all year round. Easier than the East but don't let that fool you about the challenge.
Sandor Kovacs
16 April 2020
The West is supposedly the easier of the two courses at Royal, yet it has several challenging holes, and even one of SA's shortest par 3s scares most handicap golfers.
Sabelo Ndabazandile
27 February 2020
Course in excellent condition 😊🏌️
Henry Trevena
13 February 2020
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