The Joburg Open is the only tournament to be played on two courses simultaneously – the East and West greens of the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
THE Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club has an important place in the history of golf in Johannesburg. It stands on gently sloping ground in a wide shimmering parkland, in the leafy eastern Joburg suburb of Linksfield North.
The East Course's Hole 1The East Course's hole 1Its country-style clubhouse, manicured fairways and lush lawns host the annual Joburg Open, a prestigious golf tournament in which 240 acclaimed golfers vie for a prize purse of €1,3-million (about R11-million).
The tournament sets the pace for the golfing calendar. It is a co-sanctioned Order of Merit event on the PGA European Tour and Sunshine Tour. It is the first tournament of the year on the European circuit to stake a claim towards the Race to Dubai and is held annually during the first two weeks of the year. It is now in its fifth year.
This year, it will run from 12 to 15 January. It will be preceded by a Pro-Am event, which tees off on Wednesday, 11 January and is by invitation only. The Pro-Am is a four-ball daylong tournament, with teams made up of one professional golfer and three amateurs.
The Royal has two courses – the East and the West – both par 72 and each with 18 holes. Teeing off on both makes the Joburg Open the only tournament in the world to be played on two courses simultaneously. During the tournament, the field usually comprises approximately 200 golfers, including some development amateur players.
Its East course is a championship layout that has hosted about seven South African Open Championships, including the SA Amateur Open; the second British Commonwealth Tournament; and various other tour events. The course measures 6 846 metres and its 10th and 11th holes are reputed to be the two longest back-to-back par fours in the world.
Initially called the Johannesburg Golf Club, the West course has undergone major upgrades over the years. Its signature hole is the 4th, where a tributary of the Jukskei River runs along the left-hand side of the fairway. It has lush and sprawling greens, with an ambience of a tree-lined parkland.
The Royal is regarded as one of the most prestigious golf clubs in South Africa. Its amenities include a members’ bar and restaurant, hotel and airport shuttles, locker facilities, plenty of parking, a driving range and short game area, corporate function facilities, golf carts and caddy hire, a lounge, a ProShop and a separate putting green in front of the club house, where players can test the putting surface before attempting any of the on-course greens.
The golf course is home to the Joburg OpenThe golf course is home to the Joburg OpenIt is featured in the World Atlas of Golf, which rounds up the world’s greatest courses and how they are played. Only two South African clubs are on that list; the other one is the Durban Country Club.
Originally called the Johannesburg Golf Club, it was granted the “Royal” title by King George V in 1931, two years before a second 18-hole course – the popular East layout – was built alongside it.
The Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club is the permanent home of the annual Joburg Open, a 72-hole stroke play championship, with 18 holes played on each of the four days. Play is in accordance with the rules of the PGA European Tour and the Sunshine Tour Tournament Rules. The tournament is sponsored by the City of Johannesburg, BWired, Volvo, and Legacy Hotels and Resorts.
Joburg uses the tournament to help debunk golf’s reputation as an elitist sport and to expand its accessibility, especially in previously marginalised neighbourhoods.
The Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Course is on Fairway Avenue in Linksfield North, east of the city centre. For more information about the course, call the Royal clubhouse on 011 640 3021.
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