In my mind, New York and Pennsylvania are the two leading States with the deepest array of private clubs found in America. Making a good case for a top five inclusion is Ohio. The Buckeye State is often forgotten by many but Ohio is blessed with an array of layouts -- a number of which hosted key USGA, PGA of America and PGA TOUR events over the years.
One of the more noted is Canterbury -- just outside of Cleveland.
The club has hosted two US Opens -- as well as the 1973 PGA Championship -- giving winner Jack Nicklaus his 14th major triumph and moving one ahead of the legendary Bobby Jones.
Canterbury is the handiwork of Herbert Strong and his work -- while not as prolific as many during the Golden Age of architecture in the 1920's and 1930's -- the club has been diligent in keeping alive the key elements that define the design.
The club does not possess a large footprint -- that's the primary reason why the more modern major championships have not returned. That does not mean the design is lack luster or soft. Strong included many elements befitting his last name.
There's plenty of ground movement -- and the holes are especially done well with turning points on a number of them. Being able to work the ball correctly is a fine attribute to have when playing Canterbury.
The finishing five holes are well done -- most notably the ending. The par-5 16th still is a quality three-shot hole save for the likes of the Dustin Johnson or Bubba Watson's of the world. The penultimate hole is a long 229-yard par-3 which mandates a very accurate approach. And, the concluding hole plays uphill at 439 yards to a well-protected green. It's hard to imagine that Strong had such holes in the era of hickory clubs!
The architecture has been revived through the involvement of Tom Doak former associate Bruce Hepner and the intricacies are done well. Canterbury does not have the length that test the world's best players and the club should be credited in not having to add inane back tees to the point in which the core Strong design is hopelessly compromised for some sort of fiendish Frankenstein monster. The expression "good members" course may sometimes come across as a pejorative but in this case it's anything but that.
Canterbury has much tradition to celebrate and a design that provides enough crucial elements for those relishing layouts from the Golden Age period.
by M. James Ward
Date: April 16, 2018