Review for Moraine

Reviewer Score:


By pleasant coincidence, Will Gwaltney has also posted about his round at Moraine Country Club on this fine day. I, known for overwriting, will now perform the role of a cuckoo by taking the eggs he has laid in his review (“outstanding piece of property” and “firm and fast”) and place a much larger, overblown bird atop them (only in terms of webpage structure, of course).

In truth, I’ll be concise regarding the firm-and-fast nature of the course: splendid conditioning.

Let’s discuss the outstanding nature of the property at length instead. The club, and the neighborhood that hosts it, is named for glacial moraine, a terrain type where the frozen trains of yesteryear deposited significant amounts of debris. In fortunate cases, that debris is more sand than gravel, creating both ideal golfing platforms and an inspiring landscape that seems to swoop rather than just fall. The aesthetic nature of these glacier-carved hills match Erin Hills (another moraine gift), where the rest of Ohio must make do with simple ol’ hills (also crafted by glaciation, albeit less artfully). The same moraine ridge that serves as the focal point at Moraine runs for miles through the area.

This is largely golf gold, but it also creates one of the inherent problems at the club (I’ll get the bad news out of the way first): routing. The course opens with five holes in the same direction, followed by four in the opposite, and concludes with a stretch of three-and-three, heading in their respective directions. This is not to say I have an alternative; I doubt that the height of the ridge and the relative lack-of-width (it’s a rather thin property) would allow much better than what Campbell found here. Unfortunately, lacking for additional moraine-land to work with, he also settled somewhat with holes Nos. 10 through 12, which play across the uncharacteristic flat patch near the clubhouse.

But even these holes feature brilliant greens, which in my experience are the best in Ohio (I wracked my memory and frantically flipped back and forth between the pages of this yardage book and that of Inverness...Camargo may be the last true competitor that Moraine faces in my state rolodex, and I suppose I should see what Jack has done with his most recent fixes at Muirfield...but I have doubts in the latter case). These putting surfaces are full of both dramatic drops and nuanced nudges, like Keith Baxter — er, Keith Jarrett, sorry — playing the piano.

There is nothing subtle to be said for the landscape in the hills, and there is nothing to be sorry for in it. The ripples and outright waves of these fairways leave the player with unpredictable runs and blocked views...joyously reminiscent of faraway coastal golf. The most majestic — and intimidating — view at the course comes at the No. 14 tee, where players gaze up a fairway that crests twice on its way to a green perched atop the second peak, like a Greek temple. Research has shown Campbell to be involved in designing the best holes at Brookline, so I took special pleasure in comparing the shape of No. 7 to No. 4 “Hospital” at The Country Club; although almost exactly the same length and difficult to distinguish from Google Maps, Moraine’s plays downward, daring a carry of the high bunker for those wanting a kick toward this reachable green (Brookline’s rendition plays up and then back down, offering a blind tee shot toward similarly-placed hazards).

I, to steal another sentiment from Mr. Gwaltney, could certainly play this club everyday. In fact, I’d need to in order to gather the knowledge required to manage two-putts on these greens. I’m stealing many a commenter’s sentiments by suggesting Keith Foster’s work restoring Moraine was superb. I’ve heard it mentioned as potentially the best in Ohio, but I’m not prepared to go that far.

In my perfect world, the best parts of the two aforementioned moraine courses would come together to create a masterpiece: If only Campbell could have applied the apt abilities shown here onto the more wandering canvas of Erin Hills, and we would be better for it. As I live in an imperfect world, the existing Moraine Country Club will do nicely.

Date: May 27, 2021

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