The Karen Country Club was founded in 1937, one of the oldest golf clubs in Kenya. A large part of the 18-hole course was built on the former coffee estate owned by the Danish pioneer Karen Blixen, whose life and times were depicted in the film `Out of Africa`. Indeed, some of the trees from her coffee plantation still dominate parts of the golf course, eighty years later.
The idea for a club at Karen was conceived in 1933. Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke, on whose former coffee plantation it would eventually be situated, had realised that it was becoming impossible to carry on with her coffee farm. Her property was sold to a young English banker and its subsequent development into the residential suburb of Karen began.
To attract potential buyers to this new development, the provision of a golf course and club was considered essential. The new owners recognised that the course would have to offer something special, not only to draw both new golfers and those already members with other Nairobi clubs, but also to make the sometimes hazardous journey to the new suburb seem worthwhile.
And it did. After due deliberation one feature absolutely insisted upon was the provision of proper greens as against “browns” – a notion virtually unique among Nairobi golf clubs at the time and a tough challenge for a green keeper in the face of an extremely erratic water supply. This farsighted policy contributed greatly to the early recognition of Karen Club as one of the top clubs in Kenya.
The layout of the first nine holes was completed towards the end of 1933. The clearing of the coffee trees and many of the large shade grevilleas trees had been started in May that year. Finding a golf course architect proved hugely difficult but in the end the layout was entrusted to the new owner, Remy Martin. (No connection to the Brandy.) He had shown considerable skill in surveying and, although not a great golfer, had at least an eye for developing the terrain. The fairways for that first nine were planted in 1934.
Initially, the intention had been to build only a nine-hole course, but there was so much excitement about the project, set in such beautiful surroundings and with almost unlimited land available, that plans were immediately made to extend the course to 18 holes. The second nine was duly laid out in 1934 and the fairways planted in the 1935 rains.
Today the course is meticulously maintained with greens built to the Professional Golf Association (PGA) standards. The Club has been host to the prestigious Barclays Kenya Open for three consecutive years. Despite Nairobi`s temperate climate, it is possible to play golf 365 days in a year in comfort, an intangible asset that few golf courses in the world can claim. The setting of the golf course is serene; with the Ngong hills as a backdrop, a rich variety of trees, indigenous forest, flouring shrubs and fauna. There are wetlands areas on the golf course which attract birds and wildlife including the diminutive antelope know as dik diks.
For more information about Kenya golfing holidays and playing at the Karen Country Club, contact us here or call +44 208 249 5919 (UK) or +65 919 412 56 (Asia) to speak to our Africa Golf Holidays team.
Karen Country Club Course Information
- Holes: 18
- Par: 72/71/69
- Type: Parkland
- Length Mens White: 6943yds Par 72
- Length Mens Yellow: 6662 yds Par 71
- Length Red: 6053 yds Par 69
- Length Ladies Green: 5707 yds Par 69
- Pro shop
- Driving range
- Putting Green
- Club Hire
- Pull trolleys
- Lockers Rooms