Kemnay Golf Club dates back to 1908, when local members laid out a 9-hole course. This track remained in play for over eighty years, until forty-five acres of land finally became available to expand the course to a full 18-hole layout in 1992.
When this extended course opened a couple of years later, it comprised three of the original holes, followed by ten new holes, finishing with another five from the old 9-hole track.
Very soon after this, another twenty-six acres were acquired, bringing about another construction phase, which saw another three new holes built (as 6, 7 and 8) with holes 2 and 3 combined to form a new par five 2nd.
At the opening of the new clubhouse in 1999, only four of the original holes were left in play. More recently, in 2013 to be precise, the 18th was redesigned as a par three closing hole for safety reasons, leaving only three of the old nine still in use at holes 1, 16 and 17.Today, “Mount Keen,” the 428-yard 17th remains the toughest hole on the course, played to a green that sits behind a wee burn. On the front nine, “Lord’s Throat,” the 464-yard 7th is another demanding par four which doglegs right from tee to green.
I’d been tipped the wink in advance by an Aberdeenshire professional that Kemnay was a decent track and so it turned out to be, with the par five 2nd doglegging down and to the right, over a wee burn, to a three-tiered green, which got things off to a great start.
The open section of holes from the 3rd to the 8th (the tree-lined par four 5th excepted) wasn’t quite as inspiring, though things picked up again dramatically at the right doglegged 9th, where a disorientating ridge crosses the fairway and protective mounding fronts the green.
By far and away the best sequence of holes at Kemnay is experienced within the densely forested area between the 11th and 14th (the aforementioned 5th is also located here), with fairways routed through avenues of towering trees in a very pleasant woodland setting.
The four holes constituting the run for home aren’t just as exciting, apart from the second last, played downhill then over a ditch to a two-tiered green, in much the same style as the adjacent 2nd, tackled three hours earlier when first starting out.
Laid out in wonderful rolling terrain, the course is an absolute delight to play and its springy turfed fairways afford it more of a heathland feel than I was expecting. Well worth a detour inland, away from the marquee courses on the coast.