If you are a golf fan of a certain age then you will remember the Houghton Golf Club as being the regular venue for major South African golf tournaments, and the announcement that the Joburg Open will be moving there from November 24-27 will be a pleasing one.
Established in 1926, Houghton Golf Club was considered one of the best parkland courses in Johannesburg and hosted the South African Open eight times between 1951 and 1992, and the club hosted the Alfred Dunhill Championship between 1996 and 2004, after which it moved to Leopard Creek.
Eight-time SA Open champion Sid Brews, South Africa’s leading golfing hero before Bobby Locke, was the pro at Houghton for 35 years.
But now, 18 years after Marcel Siem won the Alfred Dunhill Championship there in 2004, a co-sanctioned event with the European Tour will return to the course that underwent a complete redesign in 2009, becoming a Jack Nicklaus signature layout.
“We have staged Big Easy and IGT tour events since we closed in 2007 and reopened in 2019 with basically a new golf course,” CEO Robby Richardson said at the announcement on Tuesday at Houghton Golf Club.
“The greens are typical Jack Nicklaus designs and exceptionally undulating. If we can get their speed up to 12 or 13 then that will be the major part of the course’s protection.
“We will try to harden and speed them up a bit, and we have also narrowed the fairways between 260 and 290 metres from the tee. It’s going to be nice to see how the pros play it,” Richardson said of a course that is by no means long, but still plays 6,708 metres from the back tees, compared to the 6,899 of Glendower and 7,105 of Gary Player Country Club.
Lawrence back to defend
The course uses almost entirely its own water from grey sources as well as boreholes, so Richardson added that he is hoping the summer rains arrive soon.
Thriston Lawrence, ninth on the DP World Tour order of merit, is confirmed to be defending his Joburg Open title won at Randpark last November, while Dean Burmester and Oliver Bekker have also signed up, so there will be plenty of quality golf for local fans as well as the expected broadcast audience of 300 million viewers.