Saint Louis Country Club
Eighthhole, 350 yards, Cape; This is a true Cape hole, which is a rarity,in that not only does the fairway swing around a hazard but the green itself protrudes into the same hazard. For those that shy away from the hazard on the right with their tee ball, the recently restored Macdonald bunker complex that protrudes fifteen yards into the fairway from the left side of the green has made the approach shot more complicated/deceiving. The in-the-dirt work by Kye Goalbyin restoring the bunker complexaccording toSilva’s Master Plan is excellent.
Ninth hole, 510 yards; Some students of golf course architecture contend that courses built in the 1910s tend tohavebotha relative high number of straight holes anda relative absence of doglegs. Such is indeed the case at Saint Louis Country Club with its one true dogleg being the prior hole, the Cape. Of course, the rectangular nature of the club’s propertyhad a lot to do with the creation of a number of fairly straight playing corridors. Having said that, Macdonald excelled in howhe routed theholes upon the rolling ground and incorporated features that influenced play down the middle of the holes. The ninth is a prime example of a straight playing corridor that nonetheless has a lotof characterfrom tee to green.Ideally, and especially true back in the days prior to fairway irrigation, the golfer hit a hot hook that chased off the pronounced right to left fairway slope and ended up with a level lie on the left edge of the fairway down near the creek. The additional run off the sloping fairwaybrought the green in reach in two and from there, the golfer had the perfect angle into anopen green.
Eleventh hole, 405 yards, Valley; The tenth and eleventh parallel each other and playacrossthe samebroad valley. The tenth hole’s primary defense is its fiercely sloping back to front green whereas here at the eleventh, one of the course’s most noteworthy bunkers hides the putting surface.
Twelfthhole, 180 yards, Crater; While Saint Louis Country Clubpossesses the four essential Macdonald/Raynor one shotters (a Short, Eden, Redan and Biarritz), ithas a unique fifth one as well. The hole enjoys natural properties inherent upon playing across a valley but what makes itfamousisa series of mounds that ring the back of the green, exuding a charm alltheir own. At 4,500 square feet, the green is the smallest target on the course.
Thirteenthhole,600 yards, Clubhouse; One of Macdonald/Raynor’s very best Long holes, thanks totheir superbskillin routing the hole across the rolling land. Death awaits the golfer who goes right off the tee as the ground falls sharply away. Further ahead, a diagonal series of fairway bunkers replicate the strategic benefit of carrying Hell’s Bunker at the fourteenth on the Old Course at St. Andrews. The finally hurdle isthe green’sfalse front, whichsends many aball well back into the fairway.
Fourteenthhole, 415 yards, Dome; The longest two shotter at Saint Louis Country Club plays to a first rate reverse redan green. As part of the recent restoration work, several yards of putting green were recaptured at the front left. Golfers back in the fairway are afforded the pleasure of watching the drama slowly unfoldwith their approach shot as it takes the front slope and slowly feeds toward the back right of the green.
Fifteenthhole,495 yards, Narrows; Diagonal cross bunkers divide thefifteenth fairway at the 330 yard mark from the tee. Regardless, given today’s technology, many a good player will give the green a go in two but there are an extraordinary amount of recovery shots that he may have to execute to secure his birdie, thanks to a superb Double Plateau green guarded by four bunkers. Despite the green being over 10,000 square feet, Silva points out that it screams for ‘the ball to be put on the ground! What could be a better example of this than thefifteenth green – hell, thefourteenth is another Redan so it’s good from that regard as well – but it isfifteen that really is awesome. Airborne golf doesn’t work nearly as well, especially to the back shelf locations.’
Sixteenthhole, 185 yards, Redan; The Redanone shotter here is a mirrorone,meaning that its greentiltsfrom high front left toa low back right corner. In general,this holeplays well but the rub with a mirror Redan is that the ball doesn’t release quite as well from a fade as it does with a draw to a Redan. Thus, in theory, the slope of a mirror Redanneeds to beeven more pronounced than on a Redan and Saint Louis is presently mulling over if a slight increase in the green’s slope would make this hole playeven better/more fun.
Seventeenthhole, 380 yards, Log Cabin; Based on its name, there is no reason to suspect that today’s hole is patterned after any hole in particular. Nonetheless, in the 1921 United States Amateur, this hole wasdeemed the ‘pride of the club,’ quite a statement based on all its other classic holes!
Eighteenthhole, 410 yards, Oasis; Capturing both the charm and allure of a game here, fromyet anothersloping lie in the fairway, the golfer is asked to control his approach to another wonderfully conceived green complex. The nine foot deep fronting hazard at the green isan unmistakable sign that Saint Louis was always intended to test the best.
According to Brian Silva, ‘Saint Louis is another example of the old timers getting two major components correct. First, they got the structureof the course correct when they brilliantly and comfortably routed the course over some up and down land. Then, they got thedetails correct with their collection of classic golf holes.’
Saint Louis Country Club is located in the tony suburb of Ladue, and the chances of it acquiring additional land to extend several tees is negligible. However, within its current 6,530 yards, there are many moreenduring architectural features than on the 7,300 yard monsters that are presently being built.Though it will never host another United States Open, it possesses far more charm and holes of enduring character than any of the modern, longer courses in the Show Me state. From an historical perspective, it is hard to overestimate the importance of having such a cornerstone course built here in the Midwest pre-World War I. Not only did ithighlight tothis part of the country what a great game golf could be, it set a high architectural standard that remains worthy of emulation to this very day.