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 R520 weekday;
Laurie Waters 1910, Colonel SV Hotchkin 1929, Bob Grimsdell 1935
011 640 3021
31 (2021) & 27 (2020)
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 underwent a major upgrade by Agrano Turf in 2022 to its greens and bunkers to complement the work completed on the East in 2017. The greens were resurfaced with 777 bent grass. At the same time the two nines were reversed. No 10 is the new opening hole, and the par-5 ninth has become the 18th. What this means is a much tougher finishing stretch of holes on the back nine, beginning with the 450m par-4 16th, followed by the intimidating 200-metre plus par-3 17th, and 507m 18th.
The clubhouse has in 2022 seen the opening of a wellness and fitness club and the Old Oak restaurant and family centre. All these upgrades have been predominantly financed by property development on land owned by the club.
Having had 36 holes for nearly 90 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 and 19th hole.
There is an impressive “Walkway of Fame” from the car park to the clubhouse entrance, where the names of famous tournament champions (SA Opens and Joburg Opens) are engraved into the pavement.
Royal is home to the offices of the PGA of South Africa, and the Gauteng Senior Golf Society.
Royal CEO Chris Bentley was named PGA Professional of the Year in the 2021 PGA of South Africa Awards.
61 by Charl Schwartzel in 2011 Joburg Open.
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.
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.
2022 Marc Kourie & Eleonora Galletti*
2021 Jules Helary & Eleonora Galletti
2020 Kian Rose & Eleonora Galletti
2019 Kian Rose & Eleonora Galletti
*Galletti has won eight titles. Rose won men’s title three years in a row.
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 made 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. They were held at Royal through 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. The routing was changed in 1939 to accommodate the new 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.
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