The Links Kennedy Bay

Kennedy Bay, par-three 14th, Brendan James

Kennedy Bay has a brief and chequered history. Since opening for play in 1998 this acclaimed links course has been forced to close twice because of financial circumstances involving different owners. The most recent closure happened in May 2008. Two months later new owners, Western Australia Beach and Golf Resort, were found. In collaboration with development company Mirvac they coordinated a clean-up of the course, which had become overgrown with weeds and scrub. The course reopened to the public in May 2008. Many believe it is now better than ever.

Kennedy Bay was simply too good a course to let die – something the new owners realised, thankfully, when they bought the property. This par-72 layout lies on a special tract of sandy links land that marks the northern gateway to WA’s Golf Coast. Ian Baker-Finch, the 1991 British Open champion who worked on the design with Michael Coate and Roger Mackay, still remembers the first day he cast eyes over the scrub-covered, dune-filled landscape. ‘From the minute we saw the land,’ he says, ‘we knew we could do something good with it, but the finished product exceeded even our expectations. It is such a terrific course, something special on the Australian landscape. It is a true links layout, and a great one at that.’ Few who have played at Kennedy Bay, savouring the quality of its holes and the immaculate course conditioning, would question Baker-Finch’s appraisal. The 7th is one of the best short par-fours in Australia, alongside Kingston Heath’s 3rd and the 10th hole on Royal Melbourne’s West course. Called ‘Temptation’, it measures only 285 metres from the back tips, making it easy fodder for the long hitter – or so it would seem. Two deep bunkers lay just to the right of the ideal landing zone, about 40 metres short of the green’s fringe, poised to catch even the slightest mishit. Adding to the temptation is the wide and inviting opening to the green, enticing players to take on the bunkers in the hope that their perfectly struck drive might creep on to the well manicured putting surface.

The par-three 16th is Kennedy Bay’s shortest offering, at 138 metres, hence the name bestowed upon it – ‘Wee Tap’. At first glance it looks innocuous enough. But a painstakingly precise tee shot is required here, especially if the flag is in the middle of the peanut-shaped green. The mid-section of the green is wedged between one deep bunker at the front and two more at the back. It’s not hard to see where the designers drew some inspiration from for this gem: Augusta National’s famous ‘Golden Bell’ 12th hole. While those two great holes might be the stars of the show, the supporting cast at Kennedy Bay is also strong. A trio of holes comprising the par-five 4th (known as ‘Hell’), the long par-four 5th (with its eight bunkers between tee and green) and the exceptionally demanding par three 6th make the short drive from  

Memorable holes

4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th, 14th and 16th

Where to go

Lot 199 Port Kennedy Drive, Port Kennedy, WA 6172

Book a round

(08) 9524 5991

Where to stay

The nearby seaside towns of Mandurah and Rockingham are your best options for accommodation.

Before/after your round

Rockingham, just north of Kennedy Bay, offers plenty of aquatic activities – including offshore tours to swim with dolphins and ferry rides to Penguin Island, home of 1200 little penguins.

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