St. Clair Golf Club
St. Clair, Michigan
Teachers’ Comments: They added a moustache to the Mona Lisa.
Opened in 1917, St. Clair River is a very nice Donald Ross Course, with all of the Great Architect’s hallmarks. That is, it is a nice Ross course until you get to the twelfth. At that point, it turns into a rather pedestrian housing development Jerry Matthews course. It magically turns back into a Ross on the seventeenth.
According to a staff member I spoke to, what apparently happened is that some years ago, the original holes 12 – 16 were sold for a housing development. Matthews was hired to replace the original holes, routing them through another development. Frankly, I think he did a terrible job. I knew from the moment I saw 12 that it wasn’t a Ross. Twelve is a forced carry over a marsh to a large green that slopes from back to front. It oozed development course.
What I can’t figure out is why the architect couldn’t put in five holes that emulated Ross. There certainly are enough Ross examples out there to borrow. Its as though someone hired an architect to add a room to a 19th century farmhouse and he built a modernist design in steel and glass. Perfectly functional, but not in keeping with the spirit.
Overall, I enjoyed the course. The members are lucky to be able to play thirteen great classic holes. I’d like to see photos of what it looked like originally, though. It would quite a different experience without the trees lining the fairway, and I suspect that trees were not part of the original experience.
Conditions in the heat of the summer were very good, as you might expect from a private club.
St. Clair is a private club, but you can find coupons on sites like Group Golfer for a round (that’s how I made it on). They may also have space available if you call. If you do go, make time to eat in the dining room. The food was terrific.