The affluent Pittsburgh suburb of Fox Chapel is home to one of Seth Raynor’s best, yet least celebrated designs – perhaps the fact that Fox Chapel Golf Club lies a couple of miles across the Allegheny River from the mighty Oakmont Country Club has something to do with it being overlooked by many?
Nevertheless, the charm of Fox Chapel goes way beyond the stucco walls and red-tile roofs of its old clubhouse and – ever since its inception in 1923 – generations of golfers have fallen under the classic design spell of its esteemed architect.
Many improvements have been made over the years to maintain the validity of the course in the modern era, with a recent program of tree removal a prime example of keeping the layout true to the Raynor vision; that of a course which “rewards the well struck golf shot while appropriately penalizing the ill-advised stroke”.
Measuring a modest 6,676 yards from the championship tees with a par of 71, Fox Chapel was an unqualified success as host course for the 32nd Curtis Cup match in 2002, with the ladies of the USA team winning the match against Great Britain and Ireland by 11 points to 7.
I've had the pleasure of playing a few Seth Raynor courses, including Fishers Island and Yale. Fox Chapel is another Raynor gem. There's a good balance between long par 4s and short par 4s. The yardage is short, but it is a par 70 with only two par 5s. The greens are truly marvelous and play some defense against scoring. It is one of the most enjoyable courses I've ever played.