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Feature Course

Kennedy Bay (The Links)

Course Review

Description This much acclaimed course is regularly rated as one of the top layouts in Australia. It maintains its #6 rating in this year’s when decided not to re rank courses for 2021 Guide. However golfers should note that significant course renovations are anticipated to commence in the near future (around Dec 2020), so it is advised to call before you visit to hear about current redevelopments. The redesign and reconfiguration will be carried out by renowned architect Graham Marsh. While construction takes place the course will reduce to nine holes – the first phase leaving the original back nine open for play. New Clubhouse construction has begun with an expected completion date in mid-2021. The course rebuild and disruption is expected to continue into 2022. So late 2020 may be your last chance to play this classic links style course, however golfers are assured the aim is to make the current layout even better and one of Australia’s finest. Bookings essential.
Port Kennedy Drive 
Port Kennedy WA 6172
Golf Phone (08) 9524 5991
Fax 08 9524 6660
Hire Clubs full set $25, Buggies $5, Carts $50
Practice Practice putting/chipping green and driving range
Club House Brand new club house due for completion in mid 2021. Meanwhile temporary light meals, drinks and snacks available.
Green Fees $60, $50 midweek (20% discount with Guide for up to four players, excl pub hols)
Saving $48
Savings available to users of The GOLF Course Guide.
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Course information sourced from the 2020 edition of The GOLF Course Guide, Click here for details

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Course Details

Holes 18
Length 6385
The GOLF Course Guide Rank 6
The GOLF Course Guide Design Rank 7
The GOLF Course Guide Conditions Rank 10
The GOLF Course Guide Aesthetics Rank 6
Designer Michael Coate, Ian Baker-Finch, Roger Mackay
Back to Mandurah Region

Course Review

40 minutes south of Perth lies the still largely unheralded The Links Kennedy Bay, an authentic links style course beautifully designed and built in the manner of the most traditional British courses.

Located among the charming sand hills of Port Kennedy and alongside the blue waters of the Indian Ocean, the site is not dissimilar to many of the classic links and is defined by a series of dune ridges and valleys that were formed over a period of eight thousand years. Designer Michael Coate explains that the composition of the land and the surrounding sand dunes ‘lent itself to the creation of a true British style links course, utilising the alignments of the ridges and valleys and ‘hanging’ the greens and tees off the natural formations.’ Coate was initially the sole designer with the developer calling in professional golfer Roger Mackay to help shape the character of the design and Ian Baker-Finch to advise during the course’s construction.

The routing at Kennedy Bay sensibly follows the natural flow of the land as holes weave in and around the wonderful dunes. Lined by coastal scrub and fescue roughs, the fast fairways offer tight lies and promote the use of running approach shots into large, undulating greens which are protected by swales and steep mounds. More than 100 small pot bunkers are used throughout the course without a single trap being wasted. Traditionally shaped and built with revetted faces those not in play because of wind conditions either act as sighters from the tee or are positioned simply to encourage the gamble.

The purity of this ancient links experience and collective strength of the design can be overwhelming and upon further reflection it is actually surprising just how many first-class holes the course boasts.

There are highlights everywhere with the most outstanding being the attractive double act at the 15th and 16th holes. The par four 15th moves slightly right with its fairway set across the tee presenting an awesome risk/reward driving challenge over sand or scrub depending on the wind and your level of bravado. The 16th is a gorgeous hole and the pick of an excellent set of par threes. Referred to as ‘Wee Tap’ and measuring little more than 130 metres, the hole can play anything from a wedge to four iron depending on the sea breezes. Protected by front and back pot bunkers the delicious green is elevated, titled across the hole and less than ten metres deep.

The short par fours are superb especially the driveable 7th with its raised target guarded by sharp contouring and an ingenious trap that eats into the left side of the enormous green to catch those who get ‘too cute’ with their pitch. Also exceptional are the longer par fours with most cleverly named to invoke a sense for the challenge they present. The ‘Coate Hanger’ 9th is a great example with a ring of pot bunkers in the corner of the dogleg forcing the timid to drive wide on the fairway and further from the green. The ‘split decision’ 11th is another well named hole with its ideal driving line down a tight left side flanked by bunkers while the safer right side is more open but leaves an approach over sand and slopes.

Like any truly great links the regions coastal breeze, known as the ‘Fremantle Doctor’, is the courses’ greatest defence as it swings around and strengthens in the afternoons. Indeed to fully appreciate the Kennedy Bay experience you need to spend a full day here tackling the links in the relative calm of an early morning and then heading out again in the stiff evening winds to fight desperately for the pars which had earlier been birdies.

Although the course lacks the real dirty weather, its design, dunes, undulation, tight surfaces and constant buffeting from the ‘Fremantle Doctor’ give an authentic Scottish feel with only the temperate climate to remind you this is in fact Western Australia.

Unfortunately Kennedy Bay has been dogged by management problems that date back to its opening in May 1999. The course was closed within a month and stayed shut for more than a year, before reopening in early 2001 to belated acclaim. Despite the quality of the product a string of companies have been unable to make the operations profitable as strangely the Perth golfing public have failed to support a course they should feel immensely proud of. The links is now well managed, much to the delight of all those who recognise Kennedy Bay as the most incredible hidden gem we have in this country.

Those who have played Kennedy Bay do not need to be told how good it is, but for those who are yet to make the trip our advice is to do so quickly, before the locals realise how good it is and take all the tee times.

Darius Oliver