Golf Course Review… Houghton

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With a proud history of being a championship facility, having hosted at least eight Alfred Dunhill Championships, Houghton golf course offers a challenging round for even the experienced golfer.

Originally designed in 1926 by the club professional and architect AM Copland, the course was laid out on ‘a thickly treed tract of land featuring considerable undulation’. Dilapidation from normal wear and tear and the necessity to move with the times indicated a need to redesign. The Jack Nicklaus Group of Architects was called in for the new layout which became considerably smaller after parts of it were sold to accommodate the construction of The Houghton, a 300-apartment block overlooking the new picturesque green. Robby Richardson, CEO of the club says, “The course is great. The greens are quite tough with three elephants (slopes) in every green, typical of a Jack Nicklaus design.”

Apart from the green, Richardson talks about future plans to ‘enhance the club vibe’ with a 350-seat conference room, making the restaurant and bar area completely Kosher (fitting, because the club is Jewish-owned and has a 60% Jewish membership), host quiz nights and start a mommy, daddy and kids club. For now, members and their guests can enjoy the green, breathtaking views from the club restaurant, warm service delivery from all the staff, and a pro shop stocked with branded soft goods like golfing apparel, some clubs, balls, and other gadgets.

Also popular are corporate golf days. Companies can book the green for a day for up to 140 players. Richardson says many golf days are booked, and they almost always receive a positive response about the course. “Being in Johannesburg means you are constantly surrounded by buildings, but in the midst of the concrete there is this magnificent place of green. It is an absolutely awesome experience,” he says.

Green fees: R150- R400 per person depending on the day of play.

Location: Osborn Road Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa

Contact details:
W: houghton.co.za
T: +27 11 728 7337


Tips on how to improve on your short game

For the golfer who wants to better their handicap

Many people spend hours in the driving range trying to improve their drive, but no matter how far you hit the ball, a few clumsy mistakes or not enough practice on your short game can be the reason you’re always losing the hole.

Using the correct clubs, keeping your head still, knowing how to accelerate your shot and understanding the science of distance between the hole and the importance of using the correct hardware are just some of the ways we can better our chances of playing a jolly good game of golf. Houghton Golf Club’s club professional, Richard Kaplan, shares a few tips on how you can improve your short game.

Putting: Every time he sees a pro miss a putt on TV, it has something to do with them moving their head. Richard’s advice – “Try to keep your head still.” The golf swing allows for a little bit of natural head movement, whilst in putting there is no movement at all.

Chipping: Most chips that Richard sees that are well hit still tend to come up too short. “Generally we tend to chip with too much loft, especially with a 60 degree lob wedge,” he explains. So for all those chips that come up short, using a sand wedge (SW) or pitching wedge (PW) would allow the ball to roll out more and give a much better result.

Bunker Shots: “Soft bunk sand adds a natural break to your bunker shot,” explains Richard. So if you accelerate your shot to a higher finish, you have a better chance of getting the ball out of the bunker and closer to the hole.

Pitching: Try to use whatever green you have available between you and the hole. Use a higher lofted club when the flag is closest to you and you have little green to work with. A lower lofted wedge or a nine-iron, therefore, would work well when a flag is further away from you and you have more green to work with.

For lessons and shop purchases contact: Richard Kaplan (Club Professional and Head of Pro Shop and Driving Range) on +27 82 990 7226 or +27 11 483 3252

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