Alec “Nipper” Campbell designed the golf course of the Moraine Country Club and it opened for play in 1930. Campbell was raised at Troon and in 1899, aged nineteen, he emigrated from Scotland to take up the post of professional at The Country Club in Brookline. When his professional playing career came to an end, Campbell turned his hand to course design and after building Moraine, he became the Club Professional, a position he held for many years.
Host to the 1945 PGA Championship, which Byron Nelson won, Moraine received a Dick Wilson (Joe Lee) makeover in 1954. In 2015, Moraine was returned to Nipper's Scottish roots by Keith Foster. This major renovation included total greens reconstruction, fairway widening/regrassing and the reintroduction of long-lost bunkers, which were revealed from old photos and drawings.
Moraine’s par four 1st is one of the trickiest on the card despite its modest yardage. The green complex is shaped like an upturned saucer and if your approach shot ends above the hole you’ll do very well to make par. In fact, Moraine’s first three holes have challenging greens. Most first time visitors tend to drop more shots than they bargained for so early in their round.
Apart from its contoured greens, Moraine is a traditional, perhaps old-fashioned, parkland course that provides a fair and interesting challenge. Keep on the right line, master the greens and you might card a decent score.
I played Moraine this week and thought it was worthy of being a top 150 U.S. course and a top golf course in golf-rich Ohio. The restoration and tree removal provide for openness and outstanding scenery. The tall brown fescue that borders the rough on holes provides a stunning visual contrast to the perfectly green fairways and greens. The bunkering is fantastic with a few holes, such as the par 3 5th, reminiscent of Seth Raynor bunkering. The course really has no weaknesses in regards to strength of holes, quality and interesting greens, etc. The one weakness is the front nine routing with the first 4 holes all going away from the clubhouse and the last 4 holes coming back. On a very windy day this can prove a challenging start or finish to the front nine.
An incredible restoration / renovation may well elevate this course into the Top 100 courses in the United States one day with enough votes. The course is almost unrecognizable today compared to just a couple of years ago due to the mass removal of suffocating trees across the entire property. A fabulous golfing canvas has been fully exposed like never before.
New tees have been added, bunkers have been restored, par 3 holes have been redesigned and the conditioning is top-notch. You’ll fall in love with the views of the course from the elevated tee boxes and bask in the glory of how the land rises and falls. This course is a must-play experience!