Established in 1899, the Country Club of Mobile moved to its present location fifteen years after its formation, with a rather grand three-storey clubhouse in operation by 1917. Unfortunately, the building burned down soon after its inauguration, which prompted the club to construct an even grander edifice and, more importantly, to engage Donald Ross to redesign its golf course.
The main layout occupies an undulating site, with more than a hundred feet of elevation change within the property, and it’s been altered a number of times since it first opened for play in 1928 (most significantly by Ron Forse in recent times) though the course still largely remains true to the original Donald Ross blueprint.
Notable holes include the short par five 7th and
par three 8th (both of which feature distinctive, Raynor-styled greens), the
par three 12th which is all carry across water to the green and strong
back-to-back par fours at the 423-yard 15th and 464-yard 16th, where a creek
slashes across the fairway at the latter as the hole veers right towards a
wickedly sloping green.
The club also has a 10-hole short layout, known as the North course, which was renovated by Jerry Pate in 2017.
A couple years ago Country Club of Mobile hired Brad Klein to suggest improvements to their course. The former Golfweek architecture editor showed them he could do more than just assess architecture. In addition to conventional recommendations (rebuilding bunkers, recapturing green pads, removing1300 trees) Brad added some bold ideas: He suggested reversing holes 2, 10, 17 and 18 as well as relocating the 16th onto ground reclaimed as a result of a city sewer project.
As the club had already used Jerry Pate to renovate their nine hole course, Pate was an easy choice to complete the project. With the possible exception of Mike Fay, nobody knows more about Ross’s work than Klein and though the result here is not a Ross restoration, the renovation is one that Ross would have been happy to call his own.
Although all the green complexes are a delight, may favorites were the 4th—which falls away toward the water at the back; the 8th—a downhill drivable par 4 with a small bunker in front; and 16 and 18 with their wild swales. Despite their newness (only 5 months old in April 2019) they were fast (11 on my stimpmeter) but still able to hold a well struck shot. Most allowed either an aerial or running approach and there were strategic options off the tee on over half of them.
There are only two par 5s and neither gets the player thinking on the second shot. The fairways were not as pristine as the greens, but this will undoubtedly change as they mature. These are tiny nits to pick on a very good fine golf course.