Back in Aussie the chat often turns to ‚??golf course design‚??.¬† Names like Thompson, Perrett, Norman and Clayton are bandied around in golf clubhouses with an alarming frequency.¬† Why the subject of golf architecture in Australia is so prominent I do not know? Maybe it‚??s because JP and I have now traveled the world and are now back in the antipodes so people hit us up about it? Maybe it‚??s because design is a big part of what Golf-Is-All-About down here.¬† Maybe they don‚??t have any better stories about late night antics and other tall tales?¬†¬† Result of all of this is that our day at Kennedy Bay has oft‚?? invited the question of ‚??what we thought of the course? ¬†So, rather than repeating myself over and over, here is my response.¬† For those people in the real world who don‚??t give two hoots about how a golf course is designed, feel free to skip through to tomorrows blog written by JP which will have a flowery account of Lake Karrinyup undoubtedly filled with similies, metaphors and all of those other nice things your English teacher drummed into you at school.¬†¬† For the record, I pipped JP by one percentage point in final year English although there is a good story behind that too‚?¶ Note to students studying for your final exams ‚?? don‚??t copy the NZQA model answer word for word in the exam. ¬†You‚??ll get a 0.
Ok before Kennedy Bay I have to mention my current abode which is a bed on Mr Sattler‚??s old potato farm in Tasmania, nestled amongst the sand dunes looking out across Bass Straight.¬†¬† We‚??ve just played Barnbougle Dunes.¬† Barnbougle was, without a speckle of doubt, World Class Golf.¬† It is a course which epitomises the word puregolf (and, Slambino, I know you‚??re wondering, Yes we Loved the 4th hole and the walk to the 5th was indeed one of The Walks of The Year).
Kennedy Bay‚?¶ ¬†If I was a golf course architect and was handed the piece of land that is Kennedy Bay I would count my lucky stars and offer to design the course without a thought of asking for payment.¬† Being handed this gig is the kind of invitation you dream about and will make one‚??s career.¬† It‚??s like being dealt pocket aces at the world series of poker.¬† Or like a socialite being invited to Wils and Kates wedding.¬† Or Mike Clayton being asked to help out as Doak‚??s offsider at Barnbougle¬†¬† Needless to say Kennedy Bay is some golfing terrain.¬† All the elements stack up ‚?? it is adjacent to the ocean, has a flat sandy base that was made for links golf, enjoys the consistency of ‚??the doctor‚?? blowing across the land from the West and has a series of medium sized dunes rolling across the terrain of the course.¬† Perfect.
Naturally, Kennedy Bay was designed as a links track with a layout cut from the native ‚??Aussie Scrub‚??, with pot bunkers dug out at driving distance and with holes designed with the wind very much in mind. ¬†¬†Michael Coote and Ian Baker Finch had the privilege of working on the design, the shaping and the development and then there was Kennedy Bay ‚?? one of Australia‚??s top tracks and one of the finest links in the land.¬†
The pot bunkers at KBay are the real deal and the soil is firm so the ball was rolling and bounding all over the show.¬† Walking down the first I felt strangely comfortable after spending so much time this year on the links of the UK.¬†¬† Links golf has a pull that is difficult to describe and I find myself regularly looking at photographs of the out ‚??n back layouts around the coast of Scotland.¬† ¬†
My favourite hole at Kennedy Bay came early in the round at the short par three 3rd.¬† ¬†A great wee hole played over a large hump in the ground, to a semi blind but relatively flat green that slopes away - a simple, tad old fashioned but incredibly classy start to the round.¬†
From there, the course continued to impress in particular with it‚??s fairway bunkers and routing as holes flow in various directions around the coastline, and between the dunes. ¬†¬†It was clearly a top class course in Aussie and the best course we‚??d played for at least a couple of weeks.
The greens were a real feature of the course as they were particularly challenging.¬†¬† Large and undulating they fitted the ‚??links mould‚??.¬† Although most of them were also significantly elevated some 10 feet or so above the fairways.¬† The opposite of the Coore/Crenshaw design where the green complexes are so understated you sometimes struggle to tell where fairway finishes and the green begins.¬†¬† The result of the elevated greens at Kennedy Bay is that it would be excruciatingly difficult a 14 handicapper ‚?? or a 3 handicapper come to think of it ‚?? particularly in the wind.¬† ¬†
Getting the ball onto the green is a feat in itself.¬† Let alone stopping it on an upturned green when the wind is blowing you off your feet.¬† And if you miss?¬† You‚??ve got to possess a seriously good short game.¬† Like, even better than JP‚??s. ¬†¬†So, unlike the traditional links courses around the world the greens and surrounding swales were too intense for me.¬†¬† ¬†
As the afternoon went on it was apparent that the locals were being continually beaten up by the greens as the pace of play went from slow to Very Slow.¬† 2 hours ++ to play the back nine was a product of the hot day, the difficultly of the course, and the insistence to putt out every little putt.¬† No gimmes down here!¬†
The infrastructure at Kennedy Bay is simple and unpretentious.¬† It‚??s just a golf course and a shack of a clubhouse. ¬†¬†It‚??s a public course so there are the odd cart girls flying around offering you drinks but they are a far cry from the girls at TPC Sawgrass.¬† I‚??d put up photos (of The World Famous Sawgrass Cart Girls) but lets keep excitement levels to a minimum.¬† This is a kids show after-all.¬† But the thing about Kennedy Bay is that it‚??s about the golf.¬† And the golf is seriously good.¬† Just make it a bit simpler next time.¬†¬†
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