Golf Course Review: Karen Country Club


Fact File
– 72
Rating – 72
Length – 6,376m


The idea for a club at Karen was conceived in 1933, and just two years later Remi Martin, although not a golf course designer, had laid out all 18 holes. In the formative years, the course was home to plenty of wildlife, including lion, buffalo, zebra and baboon. Few changes to the golf course have been made, although the length has been increased on numerous occasions. In recent years, a few bunkers, new greens and water features have been added, but sadly the only wildlife you’ll find is the resident wild pigs that occupy the wetlands to the left of the 18th hole.

The Course

The course at Karen is relatively flat, with fairly wide fairways and receptive greens. The first hole is a cast-iron birdie hole for the better golfer and an easy hole for even the average one. The par-5 second and par-5 third holes offer only a modest challenge to the better golfer, but that is where the honeymoon ends. “The fourth hole is a very strong par-4 that demands a straight tee shot and a crisp iron shot to a well-guarded green,” says Charles Gacheru, a golf writer and member of the club. “The par-3 fifth is one of the toughest holes at Karen – at over 180 metres from the back, the tee shot over water to an elevated green is demanding.” The par-4 sixth is the club’s toughest hole, measuring 430 metres and usually playing into the wind, the hole requires a good drive and possible fairway wood, if you are to hit the green in regulation. “The closing three holes of the front nine are not easy either,” says Gacheru. “The par-3 seventh, the par-4 eighth and the par-4 ninth all demand accuracy off the tee.” The first three holes of the back nine, all par-4s, form what members call ‘the loop’. “These holes offer risk-reward opportunities, so potential birdies here can so easily turn into double bogeys,” says Gacheru. “The par-4 13th is long at 425 metres, and the par-3 14th is Karen’s most spectacular hole.” Karen’s own version of ‘Amen Corner’ is the dogleg right par-5 15th, the tough par-3 16th and the long par-4 17th. The finishing hole at Karen, the par-5 18th, offers a generous fairway that allows for the long-hitting professionals to hit a driver across the dogleg, leaving less than 135 metres into the green.

Signature Hole

“Two holes at Karen qualify for the title of ‘signature hole’,” says Gacheru. “The par-4 12th, reachable at only 275 metres, offers opportunities for birdies and even eagles. Good golfers require no more than a 3-wood to find the putting surface.” But perhaps more recognisable as Karen’s signature hole is the par-3 14th. “There’s water to the front and left of the green, deep bunkers to the front and right of the green, and the majestic Poisonous Tree that sits to the left and front of the green gives this hole unique character,” says Gacheru. “An easy wedge to the middle of the green should make for a comfortable par or even birdie.”

Weekdays –
Weekends – $47
Club hire – $24
Caddie – $8
Cart hire – not applicable


Karen Country Club is situated 30 kilometres from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. Visitors can follow either Langata Road or Ngong Road to get to Karen. The club is 18 kilometres from the Nairobi Serena Hotel, which is situated close to the CBD.


Tel: +254 0722 204 431