Rater’s Notebook: St. George’s G&CC
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
1. Routing: 8
Non-returning nines, easily walkable thanks to intimate green-to-tee spacing, and ideal use of open land and more varied terrain. One drawback is some potential crossfire from the drive on the par-5 18th tee to the tee on the par-3 17th.
2. Quality of shaping: 8
Flat-bottomed bunkers and nearly conical mounds have substance; a few too many of the tees are small, raised platforms that pop up out of the grades and look a touch conspicuous.
3. Overall land plan: 7
Ideal terrain; 66 feet of elevation change, with a modest clubhouse looking out upon rolling ground, but the flow of the course does get misdirected with that road. Course will get better as more of the macadam cart path is converted to natural-looking gravel.
4. Greens and surrounds: 9
Bentgrass/Poa annua greens are very modest size, averaging 4,600 square feet, but have all manner of shape, from near square platforms to rococo curves at grade level, with carefully sculpted mounding around as well.
5. Variety and memorability of par 3s: 8
The five par 3s all seem to offer a big space to play through in the air to get to a small target. Shots run the gamut, from 9-iron to 3-hybrid, with the toughest shot to the shortest of all, the 122-yard 17th, into a prevailing wind and a green whose false front tumbles into sandy oblivion below.
6. Variety and memorability of par 4s: 7
The early par 4s are on the shorter, fun side – and then you get to the 420-yard-plus 12th and 13th holes, where the moraine land form kicks into high gear.
7. Variety and memorability of par 5s: 7
One three-shotter (second); one reachable (sixth) and one in-between (18th), all with distinct bunkering that ranges from modest cross-hazards to a virtual necklacing of the fairway at the last.
8. Tree and landscape management: 9
Conifers that had garroted the place are largely gone; the plan allows the mature, high-canopy white oaks to lord over sections without impeding play, views or turf.
9. Conditioning: 9
Greens expansion has recaptured original shapes; fairways have been expanded from 23 to 29 acres; and some areas of out-of-play bluegrass roughs are being converted to native fescue and bluestem. Fairways are firm and fast, so that all sorts of new angles of play have been created. Rebuilt bunkers are low-lying and don’t wash out.
10. “Walk in the park” test: 9
Like a round of golf at the other end of a time machine. Why can’t more courses be as elegant and uncluttered?
If more membership courses were as modest and as compelling as this, the private club market would be much more secure. St. George’s deserves a place among the top 100 Golfweek’s Best Classic Courses.