Firethorn Course

A true test of championship golf

Formerly known as the Randpark Course, this exceptional championship golf course spans over 7000m from its back tees, providing a true test for golfers. Originating in the mid-60s, Randpark Club acquired adjacent land to the existing Windsor Park course and enlisted the expertise of local professional golfer and course architect, Sid Brews, to craft a remarkable layout.

By the early 90s, as the course matured, there arose a need for enhancements, including green modifications and aesthetic updates to stay in line with contemporary trends. Enter course architect Mark Muller, whose impactful work significantly shaped the course’s future. Notably, the revamped greens played a pivotal role in Randpark Club hosting a number of SA and Joburg Opens. Renowned players like Retief Goosen, winner of the 1995 South African Open, and Mathias Gronberg, who clinched victory in 2000, lauded the course’s layout.

With the turn of the millennium, South Africa experienced a surge in estate courses, each striving to offer the latest amenities. Recognising the need for rejuvenation, experienced designer Sean Quinn from Golf Data undertook the task of transforming the Firethorn course into its original form — a challenging layout suitable for professionals yet accommodating to everyday members. Although the tough par 4 16th, treacherous par 3 17th and long and difficult par 4 18th – with water coming into play on all three holes – make for a particularly demanding and superb finish to the round.

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Firethorn Course Layout

Par 72 – 6 421m (Men’s Club Tees)

Click on the hole number for a detailed layout of the hole

Firethorn Course Hole 1

Par 4 | 372

Hole 1

From an elevated tee, you’ll be greeted with stunning views of the picturesque Firethorn course unfolding before you, while the Fairway Hotel graces the scene to your right. Your drive must confidently carry the river, situated approximately 100 meters away from the men’s club tees. Adding to the challenge, strategically positioned fairway bunkers and a water hazard hugging the left side of the fairway make for an exhilarating start to your round.

Firethorn Course Hole 2

Par 5 | 476

Hole 2

This remarkable hole, captivating both visually and in its demand for skill, is bordered by the river along the entirety of its path from tee to green. A precise and adequately lengthy drive is essential here to position yourself for a potential par or birdie. Strategic play is crucial, as a lengthy, menacing bunker on the right side of the fairway near the green can penalise errant shots with the potential loss of a stroke or two.

Firethorn Course Holes

Par 4 | 368

Hole 3

This is another characteristic dog-leg at Randpark, curving from right to left. The bunkers, positioned both along the fairway and near the green, pose significant challenges, demanding confident and strategic shot-making to navigate past them. The green’s entrance lies on the right side, and executing a well-controlled “bend-it-like-Beckham” draw can prove advantageous on this hole.

Firethorn Course Hole 4

Par 5 | 490

Hole 4

A straightforward, downhill hole that entices the grip-it-and-rip-it mentality in all of us. While the fairway bunker on the left spells trouble, a well-placed drive down the fairway presents an opportunity to go for it and get as close to the green as possible. For the big hitters, this could potentially be a two-shot opportunity. However, if the pin is positioned on the narrow left side of the green, taking a risk to attack the flag becomes a precarious endeavor. In such cases, playing it safe to the right, securing a par, and proceeding to the next tee might be the wiser choice.

Firethorn Course Hole 5

Par 3 | 158

Hole 5

Firethorn boasts numerous expansive greens, and this hole is no exception. A sizable bunker positioned short and to the left poses a daunting challenge for those who find themselves in it, as getting up and down from there is no easy feat. The green’s entrance is situated on the right side, prompting many to opt for aiming towards the right-hand greenside bunker and executing a slight draw to find the heart of the putting surface.

Firethorn Course Hole 6

Par 4 | 344

Hole 6

One of the seven newly constructed holes on the revitalised Randpark, this particular one exudes the aesthetic of a US PGA Tour course. Standing on the tee, you’re treated to a visually stunning panorama. The fairway gently slopes from right to left, so it’s prudent to aim just right enough to steer clear of the fairway bunkers. As you stand on the pristine, meticulously maintained turf, execute your approach shot towards the right side and observe as the natural slope guides your ball towards the center of the green. Despite the intimidating presence of the large bunker just short of the left side of the green, focus on your shot and try to disregard its imposing appearance.

Firethorn Course Hole 7

Par 4 | 380

Hole 7

An exhilarating hole, characterized by dual curves that mirror the meandering river on the right, which significantly influences play from tee to green. The landing area for shorter hitters off the tee is generous, but for the “bombers,” it narrows considerably. Achieving par on this hole is commendable, given the daunting approach shot that must navigate both sand and water hazards looming large around the green.

Firethorn Course Hole 8

Par 3 | 170

Hole 8

Once again, careful consideration is essential as the river lurks ominously close. A slight leak of your tee shot to the right almost inevitably results in finding the dreaded water hazard. Especially when the pin is positioned back right, mere meters from the water’s edge, the prudent strategy is to aim for the middle of the green. Holes six, seven, and eight on Firethorn wouldn’t seem out of place on Major Championship courses in America – they’re that exceptional.

Firethorn Course Hole 9

Par 4 | 318

Hole 9

This hole offers a straightforward opportunity if you can steer clear of the fairway bunkers or the group of traps encircling the green. A straight drive to the expansive fairway, followed by a well-executed second shot, can lead to a par or even a one-putt birdie. Remarkably, some of the exceptionally long-hitting “young guns” can actually reach the green with their drives here.

Firethorn Course Hole 10

Par 4 | 394

Hole 10

A challenging left-to-right dog-leg, particularly from the back markers, sets the tone for the back nine with its daunting tree-lined fairways. The drive requires crossing the river, with fairway bunkers strategically positioned in the landing zone. For most players, the second shot entails a lengthy approach to a green well-guarded by traps.

Firethorn Course Hole 11

Par 4 | 380

Hole 11

This hole offers a relatively straight and open fairway, although the entrance to the green is narrow, flanked by bunkers on the left and right. Like many greens on Firethorn, this one is undulating, requiring careful assessment to determine both the speed and line of putts. It demands a bit of “detective” work to decipher the clues for successful putting.

Firethorn Course Hole 12

Par 5 | 494

Hole 12

With precise shotmaking, achieving par is consistently attainable on this hole, even for players with higher handicaps. The fairway is generously wide, yet a strategically positioned bunker in the middle, approximately 50 meters short of the green, presents a significant obstacle. Finding oneself in that bunker can lead to a particularly challenging next shot. The green is notably large, and it’s not uncommon to face putts spanning distances of around 60 feet.

Firethorn Course Hole 13

Par 4 | 376

Hole 13

This hole presents a straightforward and visually appealing challenge. Due to its downhill slope, it plays slightly shorter than its measured yardage. There aren’t many hazards to contend with, making it a prime opportunity for scoring well. However, the putting surface features undulations and irregularities, adding complexity to reading the greens.

Firethorn Course Hole 14

Par 5 | 488

Hole 14

Beware of a rocky outcrop covered in dense foliage approximately 200 meters from the tee-box on the right – it’s a no-go area as lost balls are all but guaranteed. Keeping your ball on the fairway from tee to green is crucial for setting up a rewarding par. However, a formidable bunker at the front of the green poses a significant challenge and can easily derail your score if a bold approach doesn’t pan out. It’s often wiser to aim slightly to the right toward the entrance of the green, allowing the ball to naturally roll leftward and, with any luck, closer to the hole.

Firethorn Course Hole 15

Par 3 | 164

Hole 15

The green stretches extensively from front to back and features significant slopes. Therefore, misjudging your club selection can easily result in a challenging three-putt scenario. Opting for a safety-first tee shot, slightly shorter and to the left, often leads to the ball kicking onto the putting surface, providing a more favorable position for your approach shot.

Firethorn Course Hole 16

Par 4 | 412

Hole 16

Similar to Augusta National’s renowned Amen Corner, Firethorn boasts its own formidable trio of holes known as the “Death or Glory” collection – holes 16, 17, and 18. Together, they offer a thrilling and exceptionally challenging conclusion to your round. The 16th hole presents a lengthy dogleg left, featuring a sizable dam running along the left side of the fairway from approximately 130 meters short of the green all the way up to the putting surface. The fairway slopes towards the water, heightening the risk. When the flagstick is positioned on the left side of the green, approaching directly over the hazard becomes a daring proposition. Often, the prudent strategy is to approach from the right, shaping your shot with a right-to-left trajectory.

Firethorn Course Hole 17

Par 3 | 192

Hole 17

This long, water-guarded par-3 is visually stunning, but its golfing challenges can swiftly unravel a promising round. Any tee shot veering even slightly left risks finding the dam, adding strokes to your scorecard. Consequently, many golfers opt to favor the right side, yet this strategy brings the danger of bunkers into play. While double-bogeys are not uncommon on this hole, achieving par rewards those who employ strategic and intelligent play.

Firethorn Course Hole 18

Par 4 | 445

Hole 18

Few closing holes are as challenging as this daunting uphill monster, which was previously a par-5. The river divides the hole approximately 140 meters from the green, often forcing shorter hitters to lay up before the water hazard, resulting in a demanding third shot. Only a select few club golfers have the ability to reach the green in two, and even then, they face the additional challenge of navigating a vast green with plenty of slope. Par on this hole is hard-earned, and a bogey five is nothing to be ashamed of. Firethorn presents a stern test, and if you manage to play to your handicap, treat yourself to a drink at the bar – perhaps even two!