Kebo Valley - Maine - USA

Kebo Valley Golf Club,
136 Eagle Lake Road,
Bar Harbor,
Maine (ME) 04609,
USA


  • +1 207 288 3000

  • David Closson

  • Herbert C. Leeds, Donald Ross

  • Peiter K. DeVos

The Kebo Valley course is situated on Mount Desert Island and it belongs to one of the oldest golf clubs in the United States. Formed in 1888, the club entrusted the creation of its original 6-hole layout to Herbert Corey Leeds, and it debuted three years later, around the same time that Leeds was putting the final touches to his celebrated Myopia Hunt course.

Five years further on, another three holes were appended and this 9-hole track remained in play until 1920, when the club acquired an additional 40-acre parcel of land, allowing it to expand the course and establish a full 18-hole layout that measures just over 6,100 yards nowadays.

Nestled between Cadillac and Dorr Mountain in Bar Harbor, the fairways at Kebo Valley are routed in an old-fashioned out-and-back manner close to Acadia National Park, with the 399-yard 13th hole an abiding memory for many as it features chocolate drop mounds in front of a sharply sloping green that tilts from right to left and back to front.

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Reviews for Kebo Valley

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Description: Situated on Mount Desert Island, the historic old layout at Kebo Valley Golf Club has been described as “one of those rare courses that seems both state-of-the-art and turn-of-the-century”. Rating: 6.5 out of 10 Reviews: 4
TaylorMade
Colin Braithwaite

Kebo Valley is not a long course, however the first two holes will set the tone. The first bends slightly left and is uphill. Aim at the center fairway bunker. The green slopes left to right so aim a few yards left of the pin. The 2nd is the longest par four albeit downhill. There are two fairway bunkers left and one right along with a water hazard. A good hole to throw caution to the wind and bomb it off the tee. The 3rd hole, sadly, parallels the 1st and 2nd. It is shorter and uphill, but not an inspiring design thus far. Coming off three the back tee for four is way left and on top of a knob. This short par three has six bunkers surrounding the green. The first par five is reachable, but there is a water hazard in front. Best to lay up to your preferred attack wedge yardage. The tee shot is semi-blind and the hole leans right and the terrain slopes right as well. There is also a brook on the right. Thus, favor the left side. A good birdie hole. The 6th is a mid-length par three but it is all carry and all uphill. Definitely, at least one extra club. The short downhill left leaning par four 7th is an excellent birdie oppty. The fairway is narrow and is contoured right to left, so favor the right side. The green is protected by a mogul in front. The long 8th is a cool hole, if for no other reason than the apple tree you pass going back to the tee box. I must say it was the first time I picked an apple off a tree on the golf course and then ate it. The 8th is the number one handicap hole and deservedly so. The hole doglegs left and the fairway also contours left. That pesky brook is in play down the left side. The front ends with the longest par three. It plays 200+ and is the number 5 handicap hole.

The back starts with a birdie oppty, the 10th bends a wee bit left and has moguls on the inside elbow. There is a large bunker in front of the green, is not in front of the green. There is about 20 yards between the bunker and the green. The 11th is a long straightaway par four. The wide narrow green has bunkers front left and right. The 12th is a short driveable par four. Surprisingly, at 284 yards, it is not even the shortest par four on the back! Slightly uphill, with an elevated green with bunkers short right and front. The 13th is straightaway but character is added by the number of moguls. Off the tee favor right of center. The approach must then carry the moguls that are randomly scattered across the fairway about 30 yards in front of the green. The 14th is the longest par five, bends left with OB down the entire left side. This hole also has battalion of moguls, this time about 190 yards out. The approach is quasi-blind, so don’t be surprised by the puddle water hazard in front of the green. The 15th is a short valley par three. The greenside bunkers are well in front of the green. The 16th is the shortest par four and is driveable, even though it is uphill. However, there are 8 bunkers scattered about and OB right. The par four 17th is known as the Taft Hole. More on that in a moment. On the card it does not look that dangerous at 358 yards. However, the brook cuts across the fairway on a diagonal about 110 yards out. Consider laying up. The approach is straight uphill, so you will be adding at least one extra club. The key is to clear the ginormous bunker that has been mined into the hill. When I say ginormous it is about 50 yards wide and 25 yards deep. The story goes that it took President Taft 17 shots to escape from the bunker. I was also told that he took a 27 on the hole. Obviously, he ran into some other pitfalls along the way. I am glad that this occurred before presidents had the nuclear football. When I stood on the tee box, my first thought was “wow”. The 18th is an ok hole that is forgettable due to the sizzle of the 17th.

The 17th makes this course.

October 31, 2021
6 / 10
Reviewer Score:
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Ryan Book

Bar Harbor, Acadia National Park and indeed most of Mt. Desert Island has had little reason to change in the past century and, accordingly, neither has Kebo Valley Golf Club. This is not necessarily a complaint for the average (emphasis on "average") visitor; At 6,100 yards, Kebo will lend more appeal for those interested in the game's history than its scorecard. Although his foremost design came at Myopia Hunt, it's understandable why the Gilded Age members of the club held the land in similar regard; the views of Acadia National Park from nearly every teebox is easy on the eyes. Kebo Brook flows down from Cadillac Mountain and across No. 17, the course's signature hole; you will soon forget this however, in awe of the massive bunker built into the side of the hill that rises up to the green (President Taft spent 22 strokes to escape it). That bunker is the most obvious indication of Leeds' era and age, but the combination of Kebo and Cromwells Brooks around the fairways of Nos. 7, 8 and 9 make for the round's most exciting trio. Leeds did not necessarily approach the project with "Golden Age" design principles in mind. Donald Ross obsessives should beware making a lengthy side trip just to check a box; the Donald Ross Society will acknowledge that he never did any work at Kebo (although he did offer a few tips on fairway fertilizing to the then cash-strapped club). And thus the straightforward play of the course's original design exists today. For what they lack in slope and strategy, however, you'll be hard-up to find faster greens at any similarly-priced course in the United States. Spend some time on the putting green or prepare to be surprised when you reach on No. 1.

May 07, 2019
6 / 10
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Steve MacQuarrie

During Harry Vardon’s first tour of the U.S. he played Kebo Valley and declared its greens the finest he’d seen in the country. Among his opponents on that tour was Kebo’s designer, Herbert Leeds. Leeds is much better known as the designer of Myopia Hunt Club and the resemblance is immediate. Kebo’s first green is the mirror image of Myopia’s eighth—draped across the side of a sharp slope, challenging the player to prevent her/his approach shot from sliding completely off the putting surface.

That Leeds spent a lot more time and effort at Myopia becomes more obvious as one completes one’s round. There’s little line of charm here (only holes 5, 7, 8, 14 require any strategic thought from the tee) and too many unimaginative greens. Nearly half are flat as a crepe. The course is short and the conditioning is nothing to rave about. Finally the routing is poor. Part of this is due to roads which must be crossed 4 times, but The rest is unfortunate design also plays a role. The 7th green, for example is only about 50 yards from 8th tee, but due to the poor placement of a bridge, the golfer is forced to walk more than twice that distance.

The setting, bordering one of my favorite National Parks in the U.S. is spectacular. Maine has half a dozen courses ranked lower here that I would just as soon play.

August 28, 2017
4 / 10
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Peter Imber
The view from atop Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island is not just one of the best in Maine, but one of the most beautiful in the entire country.The vistas, the ocean and the ideal summer weather made this area popular with America's wealthiest families. The Rockefellers, Carnegies, Vanderbilts and Astors all came here. And their presence explains why Kebo Valley is the eighth-oldest golf course in America and a terrific place to visit the beginnings of American golf.Kebo is old school and has not been revamped much since it was completed over a century ago and it is still a wonderful test of golf today. Its signature feature is a mammoth sand trap built into the hillside below the 17th green. It stands 35 feet high and is 50 yards wide and has intimidated both the rich and famous as well as average golfers like me.William Howard Taft was the first U.S. President to take up the game and in 1911, his encounter with Kebo's mini-desert on the 17th turned into one of those golf legends that have forever attached a name to a place. After scarring the sand so repeatedly that his caddy could have asked the President to have the site declared a disaster area on the spot, Taft holed out for a 27 and hence, the Taft Bunker got its name. But others came and fared better. Walter Hagen played two rounds at Kebo Valley in 1922. On his first, he carded a par 70, and then set out again and established the course record with a 67, a mark that stood for 50 years.Much of Kebo's layout is actually inside of Acadia National Park, although the course predates the park's establishment. Golfers share this place with whitetail deer, red fox and bald eagles. It's a great walk unspoiled and as well as a walk back in time.
January 05, 2016
10 / 10
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