Royal Joburg West

Picture: William Wilson, EgoliGolf

The West course was the site of the Johannesburg Golf Club when it first moved to the current premises in 1909. Over the years it has been upgraded and its major revamping was in 1999.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. It was voted the most improved course in 2000 by The Compleat Golfer magazine.

The 4th hole is regarded as the signature hole. A tributary of the Jukskei River fronts the green and is very much in play along the left hand side of the fairway. The hole, as is the West course itself, is enchanting against the backdrop of Linksfield Ridge.

The West Course, in comparison to the East Course, is a fine example of how two layouts in close proximity can still create quite different, but vastly enjoyable golfing experiences.

While its beautiful sweeping fairways and generous sized greens inspire joy and confidence, the player who strays from them will quickly find trees, water or other frustration in uncompromising abundance. But coming back from trouble is also a pleasure in itself, with a hard fought scramble for par sometimes bringing as much satisfaction as a well played two-club.

Although measuring a few hundred meters less in overall length than its neighbour, the West Course doesn’t seem to play much shorter. Experienced golfers may find the easier holes a touch more forgiving, but the thrill of going for birdies is often tempered with staring disaster in the face and taking just punishment for even a small inaccuracy.

Hole 1: Par 4, 371 metres
A short par 4 with a wide fairway and a view of the Linksfield ridge. Will set you up for a great day.

Hole 2: Par 5, 493 metres
A 90 degree dogleg to the right uphill to a tiered green. Be sure to avoid the fairway bunker 80 m short of the green.

Hole 3: Par 4, 427 metres
Downhill, a big dogleg to the left with trees guarding the left corner and a bunker at 240 metres to catch the drive that is too long and straight. A pond guards the front left of the green and a bunker the front right. This stroke 3 is no little brother of the stroke 1.

Hole 4: Par 4, 356 metres
The Jukskei is crossed on the drive and then the stream follows the hole along the left, fronts the green and is dammed up on its right. The second is played off a right to left slope with dam and willow right and bunker left to catch the slope induced draw.

Hole 5: Par 3, 111 metres
A tiered green, tricky pin positions and water fronting the green can make this pretty little hole a lot tougher than the distance suggests.

Hole 6: Par 4, 374 metres
A drive across a large dam, an uphill dogleg left to a pin whose bottom is hidden. Trees on the left corner and a bunker right call for a straight drive and the uphill approach to a tight green is never easy.

Hole 7: Par 4, 452 metres
The stroke 1. Out of bounds all along the right and a ball gobbler 180 metres out on the left calls to the hooker. Jacarandas that surround and guard the tiered green make for a pretty show in November.

Hole 8: Par 3, 217 metres
A variety of tee boxes can make the hole play from 160 to 217 metres. A small, tricky green with a fall off to the left and a bank of chunky veld grass to the right make this a hole that anyone is happy to get a three on.

Hole 9: Par 5, 507 metres
A straight forward par 5 to take you to the halfway house. A bunker in front of the green prevents a low shot from running on. A tier runs from front to back down the middle of the green making it important to hit it on the same side as the pin.

Hole 10: Par 4, 392 metres
A short opening par 4. The right-left slope of the fairway and the trees on the right must be negotiated. One of the course architect’s characteristic ploys of a slope and closely mown fringe taking the too-strongly struck shot off the green is in evidence back left here.

Hole 11: Par 4, 347 metres
A short but accurately struck shot is needed off the tee to prevent the ball from finding the water on the right. Water fronting and running along the left of a steeply sloping green make the 11th difficult despite its length.

Hole 12: Par 4, 412 metres
A long hole, slightly uphill with the tee shot being threatened by water on the right and trees on the left. A long, narrow, tiered green and a ball gobbler back left make this deservedly the stroke 2.

Hole 13: Par 3, 189 metres
A downhill shot to a large green. The size of the green and the gradient make club selection difficult.

Hole 14: Par 4, 434 metres
A dogleg left with water on the left all the way from the tee to the green. Play from the fairway is off a right/left hanging lie with two bunkers front right and one back left. One bunker front left awaits the timid or the fat shot.

Hole 15: Par 5, 493 metres
The fifteenth is a straight par 5, guarded off the tee by a dam on the left. Anybody bailing out right will find their second shot obstructed by trees, forcing a lay-up short of the 2nd dam that cuts the fairway. The small undulating green will keep you concentrating to the end.

Hole 16: Par 3, 160 metres
An interesting par 3 where the angle of the green makes choosing your club very important – not enough and you’ll find yourself in the dam fronting the green, too much and you’ll be playing back towards the dam from a tough downhill lie.

Hole 17: Par 4, 348 metres
A short par 4 where long-hitters can get close to the green. A drive too far left is blocked by trees and hitting the small green from a hanging lie is not easy. The bunker on the right is well placed to catch anything with a fade.

Hole 18: Par 4, 480 metres
An enticing par 4 to finish, the temptation is always to get close to the corner of this dogleg right. Get this wrong, however, and you’ll be punching your second shot out of the trees. If you find the fairway you’ll be left with a straightforward shot slightly uphill to the green.

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