The Oak Ridge Country Club was founded by a group of 150 enthusiastic individuals as the first Jewish private golf club in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The club initially hired head professional William Clark to lay out the first nine holes. Luckily for him, employee loyalty paid off: The club added a second nine (the current front nine) during 1942, and it maintained Clark as its architect-in-residence.
The course remains just a touch over 6,600 yards, not much longer than after when Clark made his final touches. That distance, however, is stiffened by the trees that have matured across the club’s nearly 100 years in existence. One wonders if there was disagreement that led to the 20-year gap between construction of the two nines: According to the club’s history, the organization also shuffled between at least three names before the course was finally solidified as Oak Ridge Country Club.
Oak Ridge’s initial design goes back to 1921. The club pro William Clark designed both nines. The second nine was completed just over 20 years later. The original nine is now the back nine.
The first hole is welcoming. Favor the left off the tee, the trees on the right create a bunker in the sky effect. The green is slightly elevated with a grass bunker left and a bunker right. The second is a dogleg right and favor the left, once again due to the tree effect. The green is guarded by bunkers left and right. The first par 3 is uphill and you may want to take an extra club. The good news is the green slopes back to front and has bunkers left and right. The 4th is a good birdie oppty, slight dogleg left. There are fairway bunkers left and right, but favor the right. The first par five is definitely reachable, not sure why it is considered the number one handicap hole. It contours left so favor the right. For those laying up, note your yardage and don’t be the putz like me who hits it through the fairway while playing smart. Also, there is a false front, play accordingly. The dogleg left 6th has bunkers on the inside elbow. Some of you can fly them, I failed. The green is multi-tiered with deep bunkers left and right. The 7th is mid-length forgettable par 3. The 8th is a long demanding downhill dogleg left. The hole tilts left and the green is very receptive to running approaches. The 9th is not easy either. Long uphill par four with OB right.
The back starts with a great risk/reward par 4. A layup will have a 100 yard approach. Big hitters can cut the corner and carry the water. This is one of the smallest greens on the course. The 11th is a long downhill par 3, take one club less. The 12th is downhill par 4. While the fairway is wide there is a hump that can cause a blind approach to a green with a false front. The 13th is a birdie oppty. A short dogleg right, a high fade will have you with a flip wedge. The 14th is a tough hole. A tight uphill par 5 with everything running left. The green is long and narrow. The downhill dogleg left 15th is a respite after 14. A high draw should catch the downslope to set up an attack wedge. The 16th is the easiest par 3, short and downhill. Another good birdie oppty. Similar to the front the back closes with two tough holes. On the 17th favor the right to ensure you are not blocked out. The 17th has the largest green but a ridge bisects it which causes some challenges. The 18th is another long par 4 where you should favor the right side. The hole slopes left and oh by the way, there is a water hazard left that you cannot see from the elevated tee. The approach is a doozy, blind to the smallest green on the course.
Interesting course, if you get the chance when you are in the Twin Cities, tee it up.