Featuring attractive Alister MacKenzie-style bunkers, the Gary Nicklaus-designed course at The Dalhousie Golf Club is quite a departure from what many might consider a typical Nicklaus Design layout should look like.
Dalhousie was the fourth golf project to be developed by the Golden Bear’s design firm in Missouri – following Top of the Rock in 1996 and a couple of new millennium layouts, Winghaven and Porto Cima – and the layout occupies land originally settled on by Scottish immigrant Rebecca Ramsey, sister of the Earl of Dalhousie, in 1798.
Zoysia fairways, fringed with fescue and bluegrass rough, are laid out on an undulating, forested landscape that’s punctuated by several large, natural water hazards.
More observant golfers will also note that bent grass greensites have bunker complexes modeled on those at another Nicklaus Design course, The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Florida.
Very much agree with Mr. Baumstark's review.
This course is stunningly beautiful, with incredible long views on several holes. We played it in the fall, so the colors were just awesome. The tee boxes are in great shape and super tight, which I love. The green complexes are varied and interesting, with some pronounced contours. I played the course 2x in late October and early November 2021, after they had punched the greens. So, this review won't say much about the greens other than that.
It's a ton of fun off the tee. Plenty of room but you still need to hit it in the right spot to secure the best angle to attack the pin. Some fairways have speed slots where the perfectly placed ball is rewarded with another 20-25 yards of roll. Hole 3 is an example. Take on the left side bunker and tree line and you can have a wedge instead of a mid-iron in. Hole 2 is another example, as a drive that boldly takes on and draws off the right side bunker and trees will significantly shorten your second.
If I have my holes right, #4, a Par 4, is another fun driving hole with a generous fairway but which still demands outstanding placement. If you take on the fairway bunkers on the right and work it right to left, you are rewarded with a wedge. If you hang it out right or go too far left to avoid the bunkers, you're likely not hitting a wedge and will struggle to hit your approach to birdie range. A deep bunker guards the front left of the green.
The Par 5 7th is a bit quirky, but lots of fun. Your drive must really hug the tree line down the left to avoid gaping fairway bunkers and surrounding waste areas down the right side. The second shot is what makes the hole quirky, as the strategy to me is a bit wonky. I think the best line for your 3d shot is to hit your second right of a huge tree that sits in the right side of the fairway, because you can take the greenside bunkers out of play if the pin is cut on the far right. But that doesn't feel like a big reward for the risk you have to take and only really works for far right pin placements. And it's a long, uphill hole, so it's a true 3-shotter for all but the biggest hitters.
I didn't love Holes #1, #9, and #10. On #1, I don't love the huge tree that blocks out any approach shot that isn't hit into a pretty narrow strip of fairway down the right side. I prefer a gentle handshake opener where a solid but imperfect drive still gives you a shot at a GIR and to me this opening drive is a bit too demanding, as a misaligned, pulled or otherwise left tee ball can block you out entirely. But that's a fairly minor gripe. It's still a good hole.
#9 has a very narrow landing area off the tee and really nowhere to play it safe, other than hanging back with a long iron that will leave a much longer and very challenging approach to a green that is really only accessible to a short-iron. I understand the strategy, but if you get bold it doesn't take much imprecision to either be in the water left or the bunkers right. Seems too penal off the tee. Hole #10 just seemed too wonky, with a finger of the right side lake cutting the fairway in two. Taking on the water to reach the second fairway doesn't give you a huge advantage, as you can still hit, say, an 8-iron from short of the water, instead of a wedge if you fly the water. If you play conservatively, you are forced more left, which is worse angle, as you're attacking a vertical green from left, instead of straight on, so there's that. Still, the strategy seems somewhat flawed and the tee shot just didn't fit my eye. Just didn't love it and it seems I'm not alone in that take.
#11 through #16 is a great stretch. #14 can be tricky for the first timer. There's more room left than you think and hitting a tee ball at the left hand fairway bunker will still leave you with a scoring club, although it does leave you with a less advantageous angle. The long views from #15 are just awesome and the hole is a ton of fun to play. It's reachable, but if you have to lay up, you have to flirt with the right side, which brings the woods into play. Really good hole.
#17 is a bear, a brawny Par #4 that demands distance and precision off the tee and a mid-iron approach to a very challenging green.
I do agree that #18, a Par 5, is a little quirky too. I'd call it a Biarritz green, but the middle valley is so pronounced and deep that it's really 3 greens, not one. I've only played front pins, so I'm not sure how it would play with pins set in either the swale or the back would impact the shot values. The green is too severe to make going for it in two very appealing. I do like the strategy for the second shot if you can't reach the green in two or decide that's not the play, as you have to take on a waste area and favor the right side of the fairway, which is elevated and gives you the best angle for your approach. The more conservative play leaves you with an uphill third to an elevated green over a gaping green side bunker. Unlike 9 and 10, though, I still really liked the hole.
Just a fun course to play. Will definitely make it back multiple times per season.
Played this course for the first time yesterday. My Country Club in STL has a reciprocal arrangement with Dalhousie - $37 or so to play it.
Easily the best $37 I have ever spent playing golf.
This is a hitters course, pure and simple. If there is a blind shot off the tee I do not remember it. The tee boxes are massive, level and afford a great view of the hole ahead. Visually, it is a stunning layout. I could see how playing this course in the dead of summer might be tough, as there are few trees to provide shade anywhere on the course. There are a handful of homes visible from a few of the holes but they are not distracting at all.
If you hit a nice drive you are richly rewarded with a flat lie and straightforward approach. Fairways are zoysia and were in great shape. I didn’t spend much time at the beach so can’t really comment on the bunkers. Greens had been punched in recent past, but they still rolled pretty true. They tend to be wide (left to right) but short, requiring approaches that land and sit down. I thought they were fair - no treacherous undulations that I recall.
So many great holes on this course - the only hole I remember disliking is #10. Back 9 is fantastic, and 18 has a very unique green where the pin placement dictates whether the hole is a Par 4 or Par 5.
Close to a two hour drive down to Cape from STL. The range is acceptable. Staff extremely friendly and accommodating. The Clubhouse will bring food and drink to you on the course. There are a few cabins on property that can be reserved for stay and play.
One of, if not the, best courses I have played in MO. Will absolutely be back.
Dalhousie is a bit of a head scratcher of a golf course from start to finish, I've been luck to play the course a few times from a few different tee boxes and each time I come away with a slightly confused reaction to the course. There are a number of great holes on the course and a number of not so great holes on the course, and these holes tend to change based off of which tee boxes you play. Similarly, due to this, I feel that you never get a stretch of great holes, you get 1,2 or maybe 3 great/good holes in a row and then move on to one that you feel is a little of a head scratcher again.
My favorite holes on the course are 9 (off the back tees), 15 and 16. 15 and 16 particularly feel like great holes, which are in the back corner of the property. This part of the property is very quiet/peaceful and you are rewarded with a couple great holes which reward accurate driving and birdie/eagle opportunity at 16.
The staff and course conditions at Dalhousie have always been fantastic when I played it, which only adds to the confusion you have when leaving it. Great place, great people and a mix of good and not so good golf holes. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
I was between 4 and 4 1/2 stars for Dalhousie. It is very much a modern cou rse. While it was built as by Nicklaus to have certain aspect of a Scottish links course, it does not have that feel to me. From the start to through the middle of the round, the property is quite open with native grasses as hazard areas. There are some great views, and while it is a residential development, the homes are very spread out, sort of like Wild Horse in NE if you have played there. I would not say that the houses take that much away if anything because of the large lot size.
While there is definitely some quirkiness off the tee, there are still a ton of great golf holes, and a couple of bad ones. #10 and #14 were mishaps that I'm sure Gary Nicklaus would take a second stab at 20 years later. There are a couple of tree lined holes on the back nine lat in the round that were fantastic and a change of pace from what is seen early in the round. The final hole has an enormous green that is probably a 100 yards long. I didn't hate it but the best word I could use to describe it was interesting.
Dalhousie is a gorgeous course, certainly worth playing. I will say in regards to where it is ranked here and in other publications is probably a bit high considering some of the great courses beneath it in MO.
Dalhousie is easily the best course in Missouri. Having played the course twice now, once in mid-May and once in early August, I feel comfortable giving a five star rating.
Pros: The course has a tremendous combination of rewarding length and accuracy. Many of the holes offer different options off the tee, and the par-4s and 5s offer great variety. Dalhousie offers consistent elevation changes, with golf holes that twist and turn up and down and left and right. The greens are quick and challenging without being obnoxious.
Cons: The 18th is quite strange, with a green that extends around 100 yards in length.
Very nice modern course, rolling countryside and nice views. The course is long from the championship tees, but playable. Takes a bit of time to get there, but if you are in the area play the course, you will not be disappointed.
Cape Girardeau is not a place where one expects to find a top-notch golf course, but Dalhousie fits the bill. It’s a residential layout but the houses are mostly non-obtrusive. The greatest quality of the course is the wide variety of holes and shots required on those holes. There’s open holes, tight holes, strategic short par fours, brutal long par fours, a handful of blind shots, some tricky layups on par fives, and a set of four memorable par threes. I’ve never found Jack Nicklaus courses to be anything spectacular, but being under the impression Dalhousie was Jack’s design when I played, I felt like it was different than any other Nicklaus design. Finding out later that it was designed by Gary Nicklaus instead wasn’t surprising. Good job, Gary!
My favorite holes included: #3, a difficult long par four down a creek valley with a semi-blind shot back up to the green; #7, a wild dogleg right par five which requires two very smart shots to set up the approach; #11, the “signature” Nicklaus par three over water, #14, a cool short par four with all sorts of options off the tee (including trying to drive the green!), and #18, a short par five with a crazy 50-yard-long four-tiered green.
Played June 7, 2017