Founded in 1917, Barton Hills Country Club had its Donald Ross-designed course in play within five years of its formation. William Diddel, Bill Newcomb and Arthur Hills have all remodelled the layout down the years but it took until 2012 before Ron Pritchard restored the layout to its dazzling best.
The main thrust of the restoration was to encourage the propagation of native grasses around the layout, promote firm and fast playing conditions on and around the greens, and add new tees to both shorten and lengthen the course for the benefit of players of different playing abilities.
Highlight holes include the 493-yard 3rd, a long and very tough par four rated stroke index 1 on the scorecard, back-to-back par fives (one long and one short) around the turn at the 9th and 10th, and the 428-yard 18th, where three deep cross bunkers provide plenty of visual intimidation for players standing on the tee.
Barton Hills has hosted a couple of prestigious ladies’ tournaments in recent years: the 98th edition of the US Women’s Amateur in 1998, when Grace Park won the event with a 7&6 victory over Jenny Chuasiriporn, and the 22nd edition of the US Women’s Mid-Amateur in 2008, which was won by Joan Higgins, defeating Lynn Simmons 1 up.
I grew up playing Barton Hills and will try to keep any bias I have built up over the years out of this review. The course has gotten even stronger with the recent renovation work. The first is a strong opener with a slight dog leg left with a bunker in the crook of the dog leg. The green is well protected and and has good undulation. Two has OB down the left off the tee which gives more trouble than it should. 6 is a bit weird with a blind hazard off the tee (water) about 220 out. It does not seem very Rossian to me. 8 is a strong par 3 the funnels balls to the back left. 9 has a fun green with a bit of a top hat which makes the challenge on the par 5. 11 is a strong long par 3 that welcomes a low and hard fade in to the green. 13-15 are 3 strong and difficult par 4s with the 15th green having an extreme front to back tilt. 16 is a odd long par 3 over a large valley that seems a bit out of place and 18 is a strong finisher back to the clubhouse.
Overall Barton is fun to play and offers the golfer good challenge and a good amount of fun. A must play if you are in the area.