Moraine Country Club
United States of America
Sixth hole, 360 yards; In 1986, the hole featured a delightfully rolling fairway but its greatest greatest architectural element was missing, a skyline green. Back then, the approach was played toward a canopy of trees and didn’t hold near the interest – or intimidation – that exists today as you see its flag silhouetted against the sky. Knowing that the green is perched on top of a steep embankment with a five foot deep bunker restored just over the back of the green even the best players have to think hard about chasing back left hole locations. Rear bunkers, like this one, are an interesting differentiator of Campbell’s work to some of his peers. Several of the deepest greenside bunkers (here, the fifth, sixteenth) snare balls that are long.
Seventh hole, 325 yards; Off the charts gorgeous, Moraine’s full glory is revealed on this elevated tee. The back tee marks the high spot of the property and from it the golfer can see more than half the holes (e.g. 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17), plus the bunker that separates the ninth and eighteenth greens. Dangerous thoughts of grandeur dance through the golfer’s mind making the hole more exciting than it was in Campbell’s day as technology has brought this downhill green in reach for the tiger off the tee. Conversely, experience has taught Sipe not be greedy and to always lay-up. That tactic will likely become even more popular in the coming years once the fescue grasses take hold in the area right of the green. The rub though is this: the stretch from eight through fourteen covers 3,306 yards against a miserly par of 29. If you allow 14 putts on those seven holes, the golfer is asked to cover 220 yards per shot during this stretch. Armed with the knowledge of what’s coming, most golfers (who as a lot tend to be mule headed) opt for rash and imprudent tactics off the seventh tee and swing away with the driver in hopes of glory!
Eighth hole, 640 yards; When playing most Golden Age designs, the single most wanting aspect is generally the second shot on par 5 holes. Unless the golfer is having a crack at the green, the shot is usually little more than advancing the ball down the fairway. Moraine is different; great emphasis is attached to clearing the crest of the hill at the fourth and hillocks at the other par 5s. Here, a ridge crosses the fairway 180 yards from the green and those who approach from behind it suffer the vagaries of a blind approach. Another smaller hillock crosses 100 yards shy of the green and in the finest Scottish tradition, there is no guarantee of a level lie/stance.
Ninth hole, 475 yards; The small puffs and pockets that dot the Moraine fairways are a thing of beauty and signify that heavy machinery has never trampled the landscape. Campbell knew only rumpled fairways (he passed away in 1942) but how pleased he would be to see these fairways today. During the 1945 PGA Championship, Bryon Nelson,the eventual champion, targeted a specific area of fairway down the right that afforded the most level lies. To this day it is called Nelson’s Flat and sits about 150 yards from the green. That PGA Championship was Nelson’s ninth win in a row.
Twelfth hole, 245 yards; In preparation for the 1945 PGA Championship, the twelfth green was moved about forty yards to the right from where Campbell had built it. It is unclear what year that work was completed and strong doubt about Campbell’s involvement exists, especially given that he passed away in 1942. The putting surface was sunken below the surrounding bunkers in counter distinction to every other green at Moraine. Additionally, the green was pushed against the back west boundary line defined by a creek. Over time, a thicket of trees behind the club’s property grew tall and shaded the putting surface leading to mushy, unhealthy turf. Something needed to be done. Foster went to work, pulled the green complex off the boundary and moved it some thirty yards. Fortuitously, he was also able to move the tee thirty yards closer to the prior hole’s green. In constructing a ‘new’ green, he took great care to do it in a manner consistent with Campbell’s. In the end, he accomplished what was most important, playability. And he did so ‘… without it looking like I was there. I know that we live within a world that wants recognition but to me, how wonderful that Moraine remains truly remarkable and not spoiled by my hand.’
Thirteenth hole, 610 yards; Moraine possesses not one but two par fives longer than 600 yards that embody the definition of a three shot hole. While the eighth plays downhill, the thirteenth goes uphill in the opposite direction and leads the golfer out of the quieter northwest section of the property back into the rollicking hills.