The Karen Golf Course

The Club is a member of the Kenya Golf Union (K.G.U) and the Kenya Ladies Golf Union (K.L.G.U) and supports golf activities through its affiliations with these unions.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the colonization of Africa, there is one lasting legacy of former times that is more apparent in Kenya than in other such countries—a golf infrastructure. Kenya’s geography and climate suit the growing of tea and coffee, and many of the golf clubs were founded in the early years of the 20th century by estate owners and farmers. Golf courses were not confined to any specific region. They were to be found all over the country.

First came the Nairobi Golf Club, started as a nine-hole course in 1906. It was given the Royal prefix by King George V and is now an expansive 18-hole course. Up-country courses soon followed, with Nyeri leading the way in 1910.The Indian Ocean coast was also a promising golfing region, and the Mombasa Golf Club dates back to 1911. Not far behind was the primitive Kisii course (1914)in the Western Rift Valley/Lake Victoria region, although the pick of the club names in that part is surely the enticing Nandi Bears Club, formed by tea farmers in 1928. Happily, the golf tourism industry in Kenya flourishes and visitors are treated to some enchanting golf in wonderful locations.

Literary Origins

The essence of Kenya in those years before World War II is captured in the novel Out of Africa by Baroness Karen von Blixen. It was on part of her former coffee estate, in the area now known as Karen, that one of Kenya’s top courses was begun in the 1930s. Karen Country Club was the product of hard work by a young banker, Remi Martin (nothing to do with the Cognac house), who was in charge of acquiring the land for the course, setting up the company to build it, and developing the real estate, which was to be particularly attractive to investors because the golf course would have grass greens—as opposed to “browns”—at that time largely unknown in Kenya. Such investment has paid off with a course that is maintained in fine condition, good enough to host annually the Kenyan Open on the European Challenge Tour. Karen’s golf course is as pretty as a picture, its flourishing wildlife (both flora and fauna) encouraged by an active policy of nature and wetlands conservation and promotion. Everywhere there is color and beauty. There is also considerable variety in the nature of the golfing challenges. The course retains the layout it has had for many years, and still plays to more or less the same length it did over 30 years ago. It has not needed to be lengthened inordinately to withstand the onslaught of today’s young professionals. Over the years, water features have been built through out the course i.e. on the 12th, 14th and 18th hole.