Golf Course Review
Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club
Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club claims to be the Premier Golf Club in Johannesburg so the Everyday Golfer had the opportunity to get in a round of golf on their East course. Royal has two courses namely the East and the West. The East is deemed to be marginally better than the West and the venue has hosted many prestigious professional golf tournaments over the years including many South African Open Championships. It is the current host of the Joburg Open Pro Tournament, which is co-sanctioned by both the European Tour and the Sunshine Tour.
The Golf Club certainly hits the right notes on the historical front, but how does it fair when faced with the Everyday Golfer. Well, the course itself was in fantastic condition. It was being prepared for the Joburg Open which takes place within a few short weeks of my playing. This meant that they were putting the final touches in place for the tournament. The rough was being grown out and chipping around the green was daunting especially if you were hitting against the grain of the grass. The greens themselves were in excellent condition and ran true. The condition of the bunkers was however very surprising and disappointing. I am not sure of whether the greenkeeping staff were doing some form of preparation of the bunkers, but they were devoid of much sand and full of small stones. It made playing a normal bunker shot almost impossible and left.
The greens were in excellent condition and ran true. The condition of the bunkers was however very surprising and disappointing. I am not sure of whether the greenkeeping staff were doing some form of preparation of the bunkers, but they were devoid of much sand and full of small stones. It made playing a normal bunker shot almost impossible and left us Everyday Golfers ripping thin bullets out of many bunkers on the day.
Apart from the bunkers this the golf course was terrific and has some interesting holes. If you keep clear of the water down some holes the course is very playable for amateurs and I certainly wouldn’t let the course reputation put you off having a round here.
In terms of facilities Royal ticks all the boxes, good changerooms, nice terrace bar area and a well-stocked pro shop. I always pay attention to how the staff interacts with me at the course and the staff at Royal didn’t let the Team down. They greeted guests and were helpful.
Two issues which could require some attention is the caddies, who I find very inconsistent in performance, in terms of ability and interest. There seems to be a lack of control in this regard and they give me the feeling that they are not well managed. This may be me, but I have played here 4 times in the last 4 months, so this is not a once off observation. The second issue is the halfway house. For such a prestigious club the halfway house lets them down regularly. Disorganised, limited options, oblivious service staff. I am lead to believe that this is outsourced but it lets down the image of the club and they should address it.
Don’t let this put you off venturing down to play a round at Royal. You will see the Pros playing on TV and can appreciate what they can do on this course. I got 3 birdies on my last visit, so I definitely left with a smile.
My favourite hole – Number 11 – par 4 – The tee shot here is what you play golf for. Challenging, but dares you to have a go. The second shot is also difficult, with your approach being over water to a tight green.
Overall Experience rating by the Everyday Golfer: 8.5 out of 10.
images: Marcel Sigg