The Links at Kennedy Bay lies on Western Australia’s coastline, 50kms south of Perth. Opened in 1999 and then re-launched in 2001 with a new management structure and some course modifications, it is a worthy contender for the title of best public course in Australia.
Michael Coate, in conjunction with the late Roger Mackay and Ian Baker-Finch, has created a wonderful modern links course. While the rough tends to resemble the grasses and gorse of Scotland, closer inspection reveals that this rough is largely made up of native bush. Although there is some subtle landscaping around the tees this course is a thoroughly traditional affair.
All the ingredients are present: fast running fairways, tight grass, small pot bunkers, large bunkers with severely riveted faces, raised greens, dramatic run-offs and unpredictable sloping. The manner in which the fairways merge into rough with no clear line of delineation is authentic, and the flow through the land is brilliantly done. The course is set some way back from the sea, but the fairways are sufficiently recessed so that you rarely see much of the other holes, only their stout flagpoles rippling in the breeze.
Whilst the facilities around the course are still being developed, this matters little, as it’s the course that is the star here. The best recommendation that can be given is that as soon as you finish playing this course, you will want to come back and play it again.
The above passage is an extract from The Finest Golf Courses of Asia and Australasia by James Spence. Reproduced with kind permission.
The following article was written by course architect Michael Coate and is an extract from Volume Four of Golf Architecture: A Worldwide Perspective. Reproduced with kind permission. To obtain a copy, email Paul Daley: [email protected]
For any golf architect the chance to design and create a golf course on a true links site is almost a sacred opportunity.
In 1994, I was given the opportunity with the late Roger Macay to do just that. The golf course was to be the first of two proposed courses at Port Kennedy, alongside the Indian Ocean south of Perth in Western Australia.
The Kennedy Bay site is part of an area formed of sands deposited in the last 6,500 years, known as the Quindalup Dunes. These sands advanced across the landscape to form progressive dune ridges and valleys roughly parallel to the shoreline. The deposition of these sands and the formation of the dune landscape occurred in almost the identical timeframe as the deposition of the sandy beaches and shorelines that form the basis of the storied United Kingdom links.
The successful creation of Kennedy Bay, is due, in no small measure, to the contribution of Construction Supervisor and Course Superintendent, Trevor Strachan. His experience, skill and understanding proved invaluable. Mention must also be made of the shaping team led by Bill McKenzie and Terry Foster. Bill is a Scot and like his namesake, Alister, he has a wonderful feeling for golf course shapes. He could often be seen at the end of a long day looking at the effects of the shadows playing on the shapes he had been working. His contribution was marvellous and a major factor in the final result that is Kennedy Bay today.
I managed to play 18 at The Links Kennedy Bay right before construction started on the first 9 holes of the redevelopment of the course. Unfortunately the course has clearly been neglected due to the redesigning of the course. Fairways and greens are in average condition, and the pot bunkers have weeds and grass popping up through the sand. This course would have been one of the best courses in Western Australia if not in the whole country. Despite the deterioration of the course it was still a challenging and enjoyable links course to play. The most outstanding holes would have to be holes 5, 7, 9 and 14. The pot bunkers, undulating fairways, thick vegetation and prevailing winds made teeing off from the black tees incredibly difficult. A tough, long and unpredictable course that truely presents links golf as close to the UK and Ireland courses as your going to get in Australia. I have no doubt the opening on the new course (hopefully 2022/2023) will be as good if not better than this one.
Honestly, it’s just such a shame that this place has never had money or enough income, if this course was in Perth, it could be in the World’s top 100. I have played many of the Open rota courses in Britain, this is harder! Yet, it is a fair test of golf. There is plenty of width, but if you venture off the beaten path, you are in the Gorse all day and losing all of your balls. Off the back tees in wind, this is probably the hardest test of golf you will find in Australia. Despite its lack of money (the clubhouse is a caravan!) it always seems to be somehow kept in good condition. Get here and play it before it inevitably closes in the next 5 years due to going broke. It is a world class test of golf.
The Links Kennedy Bays new club house is well under way with expected completion September 2021, the first step in going to the next level.
Sorry Guys but this course, although pretty good, is nowhere near worth 5.5 balls. That equates it with Kingston Heath and Royal Melbourne West and that it is not. Admittedly I have not played it for several years but my rating would be 4.5
Played the course on a few occasions and always found it in very good condition. Firstly this course is pretty tough and depending on which way the wind is blowing some of the holes are very reachable in 2 the par fives can be reached if you get your drive away, and also if you are hitting into the wind some of the par 3 you may need a driver which i used on a 140mt hole as it was blowing a gale.Plenty of pot bunkers every where but good greens to put on.
In the summer a word of warning if you hit your ball in the bush leave it, tooooooo many tiger snakes for me.
Overall good course to play
Where did i it all go wrong? We drove in past a fading sign to a club house and pro shop in port aka bins. The driving range was fronted by some very grand sandstone blocks but was as scruffy as the rest of the place. Once you get past this you encounter a simply magnificent pure links golf course. The original grand design was magnificent but the passing of the years has left everything looking very dishevelled indeed. The fairways and greens were patchy and bore little resemblance to the glorious old photographs of a few years ago. Nonetheless it’s a truly great golf experience. True links and replace the little tea trees with gorse bushes and you could’ve on any Scots links course. My favourite hole was the little sixteenth with a tough upturned saucer green. Everything else about the layout and bunkering is beautifully set out
Where did it all go wrong?
The wind can change this course in a matter of minutes, depending on the time of day you may end up playing with the wind from three different directions. This just adds to the challenge of a course where each hole could be a signature hole on a good course. You never feel disappointed on this course, Kennedy Bay lives up to the hype of being one of the best courses in WA. The greens are large, fast and true, the fairways are well manicured and the bunkers are so well placed even though most are no bigger than a couple of metres wide they seem to be a magnet for balls! This is Australian Links golf at its best.
No golfing trip to Wa would be complete without a trip to take on the challenge of Kennedy Bay.
Links Kennedy Bay was disappointing in the fact it isn't on the coast at all. The course itself doesn't quite live up to the bill of being one of the better courses in W. A
Some holes are needing some tinkering.
There are some good holes here don't get me wrong but for the best part it just had me underwhelmed.
The course was a little scruffy and the clubhouse leaves a lot to be desired, but from a pure golf POV this is a great challenging layout. True, you can't see the sea much (though you can hear it, which is in parts enough) but you get a chance to play real links golf and for this I could return everyday.