Kennedy Golf Course is designed by Robert Trent Jones. It will be a par 70 course, with some elevated tees. The surrounding marsh has been kept intact, and the golf course is designed to preserve it.
The club boasts a number of holes with water hazards and other difficult obstacles, including several blind shots and one that requires you to throw a ball over a road in order to reach the green.
An elevated tee on Hole
The Kennedy Golf Course doesn’t look much like a golf course. It is a tough and demanding course, with many long and deep bunkers, high-banking holes, and hectic approaches.
The reason it is called “Kennedy” is that the original owner was a close friend of the Kennedy family. Bobby Kennedy was Attorney General at the time, and his wife Jackie was First Lady. The Kennedys were also big supporters of golf in general, and of Bobby’s plans to build a course in particular. The name was not chosen on the basis of any particular golfing skills or abilities of either the owners or the members.
The Kennedy family owns a golf course on the Isle of Palms, South Carolina. The course was designed by Pete Dye, and is called the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club.
The golf course cost $20 million to build and opened in 1993. This was one of the more expensive courses in the world at that time. But not too long after it opened, people began to say it wasn’t very good. It was too short, they said; you couldn’t tell if your shot had gone far enough until after you’d hit it.
No matter what you thought about the golf course’s design or playability, no one ever said it looked like an expensive golf course should look. It seemed to look cheap. There was only one clubhouse; it was small; the fairways were narrow. You couldn’t tell where the golfers were playing from each tee box; you couldn’t see any trees or bushes or even shrubs in any of them. The green in front of your putting green was nearly as large as most greens are today, but there wasn’t much else to look at; all the trees were of a single type – tall and skinny – so you couldn’t tell what kind of tree you were in front of when you were lining up for a
The design for the course in South Carolina that President Kennedy thought he had designed himself is a masterpiece of golf architecture. It is very similar to what the architect Robert Trent Jones built on his own land a few years later, at Merion in Pennsylvania.
But it isn’t a Jones design – it is a Robert Trent Jones design. And it is radically different from what the president thought he had designed.
The president was one of the most intense and driven people ever to sit in the White House, but he wasn’t especially detail-oriented. He had a strong instinct for aesthetics, so it’s not surprising that while he was being briefed on his proposed course, he must have said something like “This is great! We’ll call it ‘Kennedy’!”
He probably didn’t know enough about golf architecture to realize that he had made the same mistake as someone who goes into an art gallery and says “This is great! We’ll call it ‘Van Gogh!’.”
The Kennedy family had been planning to build a golf course in the 1950s. The city council wasn’t keen. The land was in an inconvenient location, and it would bring more traffic than they wanted.
“Why don’t you put it in the middle of a lake?” asked some council member.
“What good would that do?” replied Robert Kennedy, the family’s attorney.
“You can still have your lakes,” he said, “but you can also have your golf course.”
The golf course was built between 1931 and 1937. It is a large, modern and heavily landscaped course with eighteen holes, surrounded by a forest that seems to have been planted as part of the development.
The main clubhouse is in an arcade behind the first tee. The arcade, which is accessed from a bridge over the stream that once ran through the property, has an elegant but simple modern style.
It is the kind of clubhouse you would expect to find in any spa resort town.
I play golf and I’m good at it. But I like to tell people that my height is a handicap, because it makes them think I can’t be any good. So in that spirit, here’s something you may not know about me.
Last year, I was named the best golfer in the country by a magazine whose readers are mostly engineers and CEOs. They called me “the toughest player on the PGA Tour.” They said this despite my being six-foot-three and having no driver or club in my bag. They said it despite the fact that the leader in their handicap index was Mike Weir, who stopped playing so long ago that he now uses a putter.
In other words: golf is a hard game for people who aren’t very good at it.