Royal Joburg East

Picture: William Wilson, EgoliGolf

The East Course is a championship layout that has hosted 7 South African Open Championships, the SA Amateur and numerous other Tour events, as well as the Joburg Open inaugurated at Royal in 2007 and played here again in 2008. Played off the Championship tees it measures 6940 metres and a more user friendly 6442 metres off the Club tees. Famously or infamously the 10th and 11th holes are reputed to be the two longest back-to-back par fours in the world.

The East course was designed in 1935 by the then Club Professional Robert Grimsdell. The course was revamped in 1998 by golf course architect Mark Muller. Certain holes were altered but mostly it was the greens that, while keeping their original feel, were vastly improved. The course has since been further improved with the Stream Rehabilitation Project, which was undertaken in 2002 to arrest erosion of the stream beds and reinforce the banks of the spectacular water course running from west to east through the property.

The signature hole of the East Course is the 11th and is one of the best par four’s one is ever likely to encounter. The hole is telescoped by huge poplars that make the lower holes on the East Course so spectacular. The finishing hole is a par five that can be reached with two powerful strikes, but like most of the holes on this course, the slightest error could result in one wishing that a more conservative strategy had been adopted.

The East course offers the sterner test of the two courses at Royal, but beware – both courses offer a fine mix of holes, from the apparently benign to the downright fierce.

Hole 1: Par 4, 472 metres
A nice short par 4 to set the golfer up for Royal’s Amen Corner; downhill, slight dogleg right. Tight drive, fairway bunkers left to catch the hooked drive, trees all along the right. Tightly bunkered green needs a well struck second to hold it.

Hole 2: Par 3, 231 metres
Many members’ favourite par 4: a long downhill shot over two greenside bunkers, the huge table top green makes a three putt a distinct possibility.

Hole 3: Par 4, 434 metres
Playing at 434 metres off the back tee this is an upstanding member of the Amen Corner trio. It is wooded on both sides, out of bounds down the right with a narrow entrance to the green and a dangerous hidden pond to the left of the green.

Hole 4: Par 4, 435 metres
Long and uphill with a dogleg to the right and deep fairway bunkers left to catch the hooked drive. A golfer can become lost in the copse of trees that protect the right corner. A long green contains a dangerous pin position behind the bunker back right.

Hole 5: Par 3, 162 metres
A scenic downhill short hole with a carry over the lake guarding the green. Rated as one of the best par 3’s amongst the pro’s, this little hole provides plenty of excitement.

Hole 6: Par 5, 530 metres
The signature hole on the first nine – a long par 5 down to the bottom of the course. A bunker left and a pond right threatens the long hitter’s drive. A dam short left of the green forces the second shot to be all carry. A careless “bail out” shot can run down the sloped fairway to the water.

Hole 7: Par 4, 384 metres
The drive must be threaded right to left through a tree-lined alley. It is a short second to a raised sloping green.

Hole 8: Par 5, 506 metres
The smokers’ nightmare – uphill all the way. The driving area is protected by bunkers left and right and cross- fairway bunkers 40 metres short of the green allow only two well struck shots to reach the green. Green side bunkers right, a sloping green and a buried elephant middle left make for a tough up and down.

Hole 9: Par 4, 389 metres
A short par 4 dogleg right to finish off the 1st loop. 3 Bunkers on right side of fairway to discourage cutting the corner. Green slopes down to the front right.

Hole 10: Par 4, 474 metres
The first of the two longest par 4’s back-to-back in the world. Bunkers protect the landing area of the drive on the left and right. A long iron or wood called for. The green is protected front right and a bunker left catches the slope – induced hook.

Hole 11: Par 4, 457 metres
Beautiful downhill dogleg right. A left to right angled stream and pond protects the green. Playing out of the downhill sloping bunker back left of the green towards the water can be challenging!

Hole 12: Par 3, 181 metres
Tight green with bunkers right and left and tier across the middle. A densely wooded backdrop gives the hole a secluded woodland feel.

Hole 13: Par 4, 384 metres
Slight dogleg to the left with a stream which must initially be crossed and that runs down the entire left hand side of the hole. A fairway bunker 240 metres from the tee dares the long hitter to take it on. Greenside bunkers right and back and stream left – not the easiest green to hit.

Hole 14: Par 4, 413 metres
Two ponds down the left hand side of the fairway terrify the hooker. Trees on the right wait for the blocked bail out shot. Bunkers front left, front and middle right and a huge green that slopes towards the tee means a cautious approach is essential when putting for a birdie.

Hole 15: Par 4, 440 metres
Play is over the stream which then runs down the left of the fairway. A pond cuts into the fairway to scare the really long hitter on the tee shot and to intimidate the not so long on the approach. A bunker right of the green, a mound left and a fall-away behind makes for a tough up and down.

Hole 16: Par 3, 190 metres
A variety of tee boxes can make the hole play from 125 to 190 metres. There is a small bail out area short of the bunker left of the green, otherwise the hole is all carry over a large dam.

Hole 17: Par 4, 354 metres
An uphill drive over the hill to unseen landing area. The fairway slopes to the right feeding the ball into the trees. A slope induced fade on the second finds a beep bunker greenside right, while a pull shot ends up in a bunker that slopes towards the green. A bunker short left, and some woolly kikuyu prevents a thinned shot running into the green.

Hole 18: Par 5, 504 metres
A final par 5 with the Orange Grove quartzite ridge and the Club house in sight. The tee shot runs down to the fairway bunkers 240 metres out on the right and a bunker left threatens the truly long hitter. A bunker 50 metres short of the green catches the poorly struck shot and there are bunkers left, right and behind the green. However, many scores have been ruined in the trees along the way. Putt out with the famous Club house clock tower and pub insight.

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