Kennemer Golf & Country Club
Zandvoort, Netherlands

Twelfth hole, 550 yards; Kennemer is another example of Colt creating a loop within a loop. As seen at Muirfield, and again here, the B nine runs in a counterclockwise loop with the fourth through the ninth holes running along the perimeter of the property. The C nine plays within this broad loop and the long three shot twelfth takes the golfer to this nine’s farthest point from the clubhouse. As it generally plays downwind, the key on this straight hole is to keep the ball in play off the tee as hopefully the green may then be in reach. Landing one’s long approach just past the bunker forty yards short of the green and watching it climb onto the green is a shot one never tires of playing.

Visually, Kennemer has great texture and the golfer is well served not to stray to the right as he plays down the long twelfth as he inadvertently will find himself back in the dunes.

Fourteenth hole, 385 yards; Golf was a forgotten sport from 1940 through 1945. Best case, courses lay fallow during World War II but more often like here, numerous features were obliterated. Bunkers can be readily identified and re-built but recapturing some of Colt’s magic within the greens themselves can be more elusive. One of the best greens on the property comes here, thanks to its back to front tilt and subtle rolls throughout.

Some of the subleties of the fourteenth green are captured in the photograph above.

Fifteenth hole, 165 yards; This is one of the first holes that Colt found when he routed the course and he talked about it in glowing terms two years before the course even opened. Unlike some architects who talk a lot but deliver little, Colt made good on his promise.

The daunting prospect from the fifteenth tee. Tee balls short and left roll back fifty (!) yards.

Club historian Dolph Cox niftely recovers from the the left front bunker with a niblick.

Sixteenth hole, 485 yards; Sadly, the notion of par influences how some people view a hole. With the sixteenth tee near the high spot on the course, it plays shorter than its yardage suggests. Furthermore, it frequently plays down a crossing wind and on such days, some of Europe’s best hit the green in two with a short iron. Consequently, the hole gets termed a weak par five. What nonsense! Call it a par four if you must, but just appreciate it for what it is: a thrilling hole.

The long sixteenth works its way through the dunes.

The long sixteenth works its way through the dunes.

Starting 185 yards from the green, this ridge line angles into the fairway from the right. Approaches played from that side of the fairway are frequently blind because of it, making this a neat hazard in its own right.

An approach from the left of the sixteenth fairway provides a better view of the green, which lays peacefully upon the ground at the base of the dunes.

Eighteenth hole, 400 yards; How to lend straight holes playing interest is always a tricky proposition. If all that is required is two straight shots, then the player may as well be on the range. In the case of the eighteenth, which is uphill and frequently into the wind, Colt gave the hole its playing interest by creating the deepest greenside bunker front left. Thus, the challenge is always to drive up the right of the fairway, avoiding the two bunkers cut into the right hillside.

A view past the seventeenth green and up the eighteenth fairway. The golfer about to hit his approach to the Home green enjoys a far better angle than did his playing partner to the left.

A4 , 400 yards; One of the benefits to building on sandy soil is the range in green sites that the architect is afforded. Of course, it is up to the architect to take advantage of that luxury when the opportunity presents itself. A text book example is how Colt starts off his B nine with a green down in a dell and followed by one high on a plateau. Again here, thanks to the sandy soil providing a way for water to escape, Pennink adhered to Colt’s routing and placed the green low, behind the shoulder of a dune. In so doing, he gave this modest length hole its character.

As seen from the tee, the use of the landforms give the fourth hole a links feel while the vegetation and trees tell the golfer that he is inland.

The fourth green is well placed, partially tucked behind a dune.

A5, 420 yards; Kennemer deserves credit in recent years for clearing brush and trees that had encroached into the playing corridors. Indeed, some of the European Tour players were critical of the A nine in days gone by because they felt that the proximity of the brush to the fairway was too penal. There was never any recovery shot options for wayward tee balls and balls could be readily lost. Fortunately, the club appreciated that defensive golf through tightly defined playing corridors is rarely interesting. Intelligent brush and tree clearing continues to this day, exposing the great attribute of the A nine, namely how Colt’s routing took advantage of the rolling topography.

The view from the fifth tee shows the broad fairway as it sweeps to the right. The joy of this natural golf terrain was once snuffed out by allowing brush and trees to crowd in the golf.

The approach to the fifth is played over the shoulder of a dune.

A9, 420 yards; Pennink was economical with his use of bunkers. With great sites, such as here and Noordwijkse, he let the land speak for itself and didn’t clutter it up needlessly with man-made bunkers. Three of the finest holes on this nine – the fifth, the long, twisting three shot seventh, and here at the ninth – are bunkerless and are all the better for it.

As seen from behind, the ninth hole is made by the angle in which its green was benched into the hillside.

Frank Pont perfectly sums up Colt’s work at Kennemer when he writes,

‘The Kennemer, and especially the B+C combination of holes, is the most classic links course in the Netherlands. The variety of holes is excellent, the routing feels very natural and isn’t to heavy on the legs and the detailing of the green surrounds is superb. Would the course be situated on Long Island or on the coast of Kent rather than west of Amsterdam I’m pretty sure it would be in everybody’s top five list of Colt courses.Visitors have told me that if they had one more round to play it would be Royal Hague, but it would be Kennemer where they would want to play their daily golf. That is the Kennemer, a course that will never bore you, rarely humiliate you but for sure will keep surprising you. Make that next trip to the links land of Holland rather than Scotland or Ireland; you will be most definitely surprised!’

After completing Kennemer, Colt was commissioned to build the classy De Pan, a little over an hour’s drive inland. His legacy in this relatively small country quickly built from there. Much like Alister Mackenzie in Australia and Charles Alison in Japan, he left an indelible stamp of high quality golf that still to this day defines the best that the country has to offer.

The End