Kenilworth: Course Open.
Kenilworth’s main defence is its trees and it is very effective, so it is important to be straight. If (or when) you do go into the trees you can usually find your ball but it will cost you a shot to get out again. There is often a trade off to be made between length and accuracy and on some of the lower stroke index holes you may be wise to lay up rather than go for the green every time.
If you are unfortunate enough to hit a long ball into or over the trees, please shout FORE even if you can’t see anyone there. We all go into the trees at one time or another and there is every chance someone could be standing out of sight just where your ball is going to land.
Our bunkers don’t drain uniformly and can be variable, especially after rain so check the sand with your feet before playing out and don’t assume that the next bunker will be the same. There are no bunkers at the back of any of our greens.
In general, there are no easy holes and no really hard holes. If you stay on the fairways, get on or near the greens in regulation and can chip and putt moderately well you will have no difficulty. The problem comes if you stray off track when a gettable par can easily turn into a scrambled double bogey.
We use coloured flags to denote pin placement at the front (red), middle (yellow) and back (white) of the greens but it is worth taking a look at the flag on the sixth green immediately to your right to help you when you play it later.
Our first few holes are amongst our hardest, so don’t be too dispirited if you start slowly. In particular this hole is the hardest on the course but CONGU dictates that we cannot make it stroke index 1.
Big hitters will need to watch out for the ditch crossing the fairway just out of sight about 160 yards from the green although very big hitters can clear it. Laying up on the brow is a safe option leaving a long second shot.
It is tempting to go for the green if you get a good drive but beware of the ditch on the left hand side which is out of bounds and not a hazard and the two bunkers at the front of the green. A lay up, chip on and two putts will get you a good net par.
If you do go for the green from distance, either with your second shot or more likely your third after a chip out of the trees, the hole plays short as the ball will run slightly downhill towards the back of the green. Beware of the ditch at the back as it is out of bounds like the ditch on the left.
Once again, the ditch on the left is out of bounds and not a hazard. It is a long hole and well protected with two bunkers at the front if you aren’t quite straight and another on the right hand side that can get in the way if you miss the green right and are chipping back on. So go for it if you are feeling brave but the prudent option is to lay up short for an easy chip on and two putts. Its stroke index is 11 so you’re still probably getting a shot.
This is stroke index 3 but if you are off the yellow tees it is much easier than that and a good chance for a par. Big hitters will want to draw the ball but otherwise aim for the marker post and you won’t go through the slight dog leg left. It’s worth trying to get to the top of the hill so that you get a view of the green for your next shot.
I know that this isn’t particularly helpful as we can’t control where our bad shots go, but if you do miss the fairway it is much easier to get out of the trees on the right than the trees on the left.
You’re now faced with a long green with two bunkers at the front and a slope off the back. It is probably worth going for the centre of the green wherever the flag is to stay out of danger and still leave yourself a chance of that par.
Notionally this is one of the easiest holes on the course but don’t be fooled by how short it is. The green is tricky and slopes from back to front as well as left to right so you are in three putt territory unless you get your tee shot close and that’s easier said than done.
With the flag at the front you need to stay out of the front bunker so either draw it in from the right, aim to the right or go for the middle of the green. With the flag at the back there is a very small landing area so again the middle of the green is a good area to aim for, leaving an uphill putt. Just pray for a flag in the middle.
In the summer it is not a bad idea to go for the bank behind and let the ball roll back down onto the green.
Stroke index 1 (even if it isn’t the hardest hole on the course) so be careful. It pays to consider this as a par 5 as a big drive can all too easily end up in the trees on either side or the ditch lurking just out of sight. If you are going for the par then you’ll probably want to hit a draw to leave yourself at the top of the hill or just onto the downslope but otherwise a straight shot with a rescue or a long iron will get you nicely in position.
Although it is not an integral out of bounds, you should not deliberately hit your tee shot down the sixth fairway for safety reasons.
The approach shot is very similar to the first hole, playing short with bunkers at the front. Give yourself a pat on the back if you walk off with a five or better and if not, take comfort that the holes do get a bit easier from here on.
The first par 5 and it’s not much longer than the first, third or fifth holes that parallel it so now that you’ve had a chance to warm up, get the driver out and give it the works. You should get past the ditch and just when it doesn’t matter, they fill it in, all but the edges in the rough. The ideal position is on the left side of the fairway to open up the hole.
Use your longest fairway club for your next shot (trees permitting) and the big hitters will be pin high or chipping on and at worst you should have a short iron to the green. It is a long green so check the flag placement carefully but with a bit of luck you could be looking at a par here which may well be your first three pointer.
Check out the position of the flag on the eighteenth green as you walk up to the seventh.
The seventh usually plays a similar length to the fourth hole and if there is a wind it will have the same effect so club selection should be easy. Hit the green and you’ve got your par but miss it and the chip’s not straightforward as it’s onto a downslope from the left and over a mound from the right.
Did I mention the horseshoe bunker across the front?
Another par 5 and this time you can see the green in the distance. You are now playing across the hill which is another of Kenilworth’s special features. For more than half of the rest of the course the fairway slopes sideways. There’s no benefit in being left or right handed here either as some slope left to right and some slope right to left.
You’ll want your driver again and aim at the edge of the trees on the left hand side. If you hit it well the ball will run down to the middle of the fairway. If you go down the middle it will run to the right and end up in a belly which will block your view of the green.
The trees on the left are dense and you are not certain of finding your ball. It will almost certainly cost you a shot if you go in as you may have to chip out sideways unless you are lucky and bounce back onto the fairway.
There is a ridge running diagonally across the fairway just where you might be thinking about laying up for a short iron approach. If you are looking to land a shot in this area, try not to be on the upslope as it makes for a difficult stance,
The two front bunkers make a tight entrance and if you are coming in from distance it is probably wise to lay up short, especially when the flag is at the front. Missing to the sides or back leaves an awkward chip, especially from the left out of the rough onto a down slope. I hope you are on good terms with your lob wedge.
The green will almost certainly slope more than you think. It is fast from back to front and turns left to right. Learn from this as the turn down the hill is typical of many of the holes on the back nine.
Despite the higher stroke index, most lower handicappers find this a harder hole than the sixth.
Take a moment to admire the view from the tee - it is one of the best that we afford.
This is a nice hole and a good finish to the front nine. It’s risk and reward and how your card is looking will probably determine your attitude. Stay away from the trees on the left which will block you out and hit a long drive to the right side to clear the dog leg. A draw is best for the big hitters but even if you do go in the trees on the right you can usually get within easy range of the green with your second.
Make sure as you approach the green that you know where the front right hand bunker is as it is not visible from the bottom of the hill. A draw is good but don’t overdo it as that’s a steep slope into the woods on the left. The left hand bunker is only there to catch a bad shot but the right hand bunker is hungry and likes a nearly good shot.
Club selection is difficult for the approach as you are playing from an up slope but if in doubt go long - I really hate that bunker.
Play this well and you’ll get your par.
This par 3 is the hole where on Captain’s Day and President’s Day we bet on whether we will hit the green or not from the white tees. Less than 10 people managed it on the last President’s Day out of a full field - see if you can do it!
Go for the centre of the green wherever the flag is. It’s a big green and that should take the bunkers out of play. Missing left with the flag left gives a problematic second shot as there is a high bank to clear. If you find yourself in this position a bump into the bank is usually better than a lofted shot that’ll run to the other side of the green. If you can do backspin you shouldn’t be reading this, you should read the pro’s tips.
Hopefully you’ll walk off with a couple of points as it is stroke index 10.
What’s a dog leg right doing at Kenilworth Golf Club? Don’t get too excited - it’s the only one. A good chance to open your shoulders though and go for it as it is just reachable with a big hit. If you do happen to miss then a good recovery shot can still save your par.
Of course, there is always the safe option of a long iron or hybrid and short iron onto the green, just be careful of the bunkers and a tricky chip back up the slope if you go over the back. The hole plays short because of the downslope.
Getting out of the trees on the left is much easier than those on the right.
From here through to hole 16 you are playing across the slope again so be prepared to aim off to allow for any sideways run. Also check the borrows on the greens carefully as the greens tend to slope sideways down the hill and it isn’t always obvious.
Two good hits on this par 5 should get you somewhere near the green but the trees are lurking as always and those on the right will cost you a shot and if you go in deep you may not find your ball.
Pay special attention to the pot bunker short right of the green which isn’t very visible but is hard to get out of.
This hole plays long so take your driver and favour the left hand side to stay away from an awkward bank on the right. It’ll still be a long iron in and allow an extra club for the hill but beware of going too long as the green slopes steeply from back to front making a return putt tricky. The bunkers are short of the green and shouldn’t pose too much of a threat.
Check the flag on hole 14 to your right as you walk off this tee.
A drive is tempting here as the green is almost in reach on this short downhill par 4 but unless you are very close to the green you’ll have to contend with bunkers and trees and there is a ditch lurking out of sight running up the left side of the hole which will catch a hook.
Laying up to leave a wedge in takes most of the danger out and still leaves a chance of a birdie, or would if the green didn’t have the biggest slope on the entire course. Don’t be fooled by stroke index 18.
A tight fairway might mean a judicious three wood here, but a decent drive will take you past the beckoning woods on the left and leave you a short iron in. The fairway bunker on the right is within driving distance but it does have a line of sight to the green if you can pick your ball off the sand.
If you miss the green left you’ll understand why this is stroke index 2 as the slope will throw your ball into the trees and it will then more than likely roll all the way through leaving a near impossible chip back up. The green isn’t the easiest to read either.
It does look like the greenkeeper got out of bed on the wrong side when he put the marker post in the rough on the right, but it is the best line as anything on the fairway will run off left and may even go out of bounds onto the road. There is a slight plateau at driving distance but anywhere else and you will be playing with the ball above your feet.
The trees on the right are part of the same wood that you met on the right of hole 12. They like to keep golf balls for themselves and they threaten you all of the way down.
This is the steepest slope of all the fairways and it catches you out the most, even though you’ve had a few holes to get used to it. If you are on the slope and it is going to take you another two shots to get onto the green think about taking it easy on this shot even if it does leave a longer shot in as a big shot can easily end up out of bounds on the left.
Try to get so that your approach shot is coming up from the left side as it is very hard to get onto the green from the right because of the large bunker on the right put there for just that reason and don’t go over the back of the green as there is no drop zone for the ditch - it is out of bounds.
One last dog leg left. Again, a three wood will keep you out of trouble but leave a long iron in. If you are taking the driver, a draw is perfect, otherwise your line is over the trees on the left. There is an out of bounds ditch on the left past the trees but it turns away left with the dog leg so shouldn’t be a problem.
The hole plays long up the hill and you don’t want to be short as balls will roll back off the front of the green. If there is a wind it usually comes from the right but you are shielded as you play your shot in, so aim off right in those circumstances. The green slopes right to left.
A nice finishing hole that can make the difference to your score card. Yes, it’s only a par 3 but like all the previous holes a bad shot will be punished. You’re familiar with our trees now and there are just the three bunkers, all short of the green, so go long. The hole plays half a club long anyway thanks to it being uphill and there may be a headwind too.
The green slopes gently from back to front, so good luck with the putting. We hope you enjoyed your round - come back soon and master the holes you didn’t this time.