The Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort lies halfway between the Samburu and Masai Mara reserves, near Lake Naivasha and, since opening in 2000, the course has gained the reputation as one of the most challenging of all Kenya’s championship tracks.
Laid out on the side of the Eburru Escarpment, on a remarkably flat plateau, the Great Rift Valley course measures just under 6,500 metres from the back tees and its routing weaves in and out of a number of small residential clusters, most of which are located on the back nine.
Water comes into play at a few holes on the front nine: at the par three 3rd (where a small reservoir threatens the tee shot to the left of the green), at the par four 7th (which has a couple of small ponds lurking to the left of the green) at the short par four 9th, where a lake-sized water hazard fronts the putting surface. On the inward half, golfers are only ever aquatically challenged at the 361-metre 11th.
Architect Thomas Fjastad commented as follows:
I built the course at Windsor Golf & CC under the tutelage of that great golf course architect Tom Macauley of N. Ireland. Following that, I designed and supervised the construction of Leisure Lodge in Diani, south of Mombasa. Great Rift Valley Lodge & Golf resort then followed.
I have since completed a design for the Aga Khan on the island of Zanzibar but, due to political reasons, this is on hold. A 9-hole course on the shores of Lake Victoria and an 18-hole course off the Thika Highway are also on hold at the moment.
The land at Great Rift Valley was total bush with a scattering of wild animals, including buffalos. Walking with a GPS, I positioned all the natural features on a map. I found the ideal position for the clubhouse, parking, driving range and, most important, the finishing hole. Figuring the layout fell into place, after many attempts!