To visualize the conditions under which Rand Club was founded, one must picture the community in which it came into being. In the mid 19th century there was a piece of land that stretched for 30 miles south of the little village of Pretoria and it was an almost treeless upland approximately one mile above sea-level. The Boers in President Kruger’s South African Republic called it the Witwatersrand (White Waters Ridge) because in summer it was covered with lakes and ponds. However in winter it was a dry and windswept highland from which the farmers moved their cattle into warmer pastures. On this 30-mile stretch of land there was a farm known as Langlaagte and in February of 1886, traces of gold were found on the farm property just a few miles from the centre of modern day Johannesburg. Samples of the gold-bearing rock were sent to Kimberley which was then the most important mining and financial centre in South Africa.
Cecil John Rhodes checked samples of the gold-bearing rock and was satisfied with the results. He asked Dr Hans Sauer, the first district surgeon of Johannesburg, to return to the Rand and obtain options for ground. In December 1886, after completing some business, Rhodes suggested to Sauer that they should take a walk and select a site for a club. After wandering about for some time Rhodes suddenly stopped and said, “This corner will do for the club”. It was at the point where Commissioner Street met a street running from Marshall’s township into Market Square. The chosen area consisted of four stands and Sauer was instructed to find out who these stands belonged to and buy them. Sauer discovered that two of the stands belonged to a certain Ikey Sonnenberg, a financier and speculator. Sauer told him that Rhodes wanted to buy the stands as a site for a mens’ club, and Sonnenberg immediately offered Rhodes his two stands as a gift for this purpose. The other two stands belonged to a certain H.B. Marshall, a Scotsman. Sauer had to pay Marshall the full £72 for his two stands. The stand numbers were 185, 186,189, and 190. The first club was built with shares of £10 bought by every candidate wishing to become a member of the club and thus the money required for building the club house was raised. The first club consisted of one ground floor and was built of brick and thatched. It served its purpose for 18 months at which point it was levelled and a more commodious Club House was erected.