“Beyond the Missouri Sky” is one of Pat Metheny’s greatest albums which is a collaboration with bassist Charlie Hayden. The duets on the album epitomise their shared Missouri lineage and Old Warson Country Club is another classic Midwest creation.
Old Warson Country Club opened for play in 1954 and it’s one of Missouri’s finest layouts. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., this undulating, tree-lined layout is certainly one of RTJ’s classics and the club was thrust on the world golfing stage when it hosted the 1971 Ryder Cup which saw Team USA beat the Great Britain squad 18½ points to 13½.
The short par four 14th is one of the most lauded holes in golf where the carry from the elevated back tee is more than 200 yards across a big lake to a landing area that looks narrower than Twiggy’s waist. Water down the left side of the fairway and bunkers flanking both sides of the fairway place fear in the bravest hearts. If your tee shot remains above ground, your approach shot must avoid three bunkers before finding relative sanctuary on the long, sloping and narrow green.
Old Warson hosted the 1999 Mid-Amateur Championship, which was won by Danny Green and the club hosted the U.S. Women’s Amateur for the third time in 2009.
Old Warson is a special place and a throwback club. To put it in perspective, on the back side there is a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Arch. The club had been in operation for almost a decade when the arch was completed.
One of the keys at Old Warson is get off to a good start and keep the ball in the fairway. The rough is rough. The first hole is a welcoming straight forward par 4. The green is protected by front bunkers left and right. The 2nd leans to the left with a few bunkers on the outside elbow. The large green has two large bunkers left and one right. The first par three is mid-length but the green is surrounded by four bunkers. The 4th’s tee shot can be intimidating. You are coming out of a chute and the hole bends left. The approach is pretty straight forward, avoid the two bunkers left and the one right. The long 5th is downhill bends left with a stream left. You want to cut as much of the corner as you can, although there is a fairway bunker on the left side. Driving through the fairway did not work out very well for me. The par 5 6th is a good birdie oppty. Pretty straight with a couple of fairway bunkers right and OB left, it can be reached in two. There is only a greenside bunker right. Definitely a green light hole. The 7th is another mid-length par 3 and is protected by three bunkers. The 8th is a tough hole, long dogleg right with multiple bunkers on the inside elbow. This green is also well protected by bunkers. What you see is what you get on the 9th, a straight forward par 4 headed right back to the clubhouse.
The back starts off with a slight dogleg right. Favor the left to take the right fairway bunkers out of play and to ensure that you do not get blocked out. This guitar shaped green is also protected by three bunkers. The 11th is long, but pretty straight forward, couple of fairway bunkers left and greenside bunkers. The 12th is an interesting par 5. It has a meandering serpentine stream that crosses it twice. It reminded me a wee bit of the burn at Carnoustie. While the hole is not that long, the stream will affect how you play it. The 13th is another mid-length par 3 but this one is all carry over water. I was surprised that it is the #18 handicap hole. The 14th is a good birdie oppty. It is short and there is a carry over water, but the closer one gets to the green the narrower the fairway and there is water just about the entire left side. Fun hole. The 15th is a long straight away par 4. This green is also well protected as 4 bunkers surround it. The 16th is a 600 yard par 5. Water left and then a water carry on the approach. The 17th is the longest par 3 at just over 200 yards. The finishing hole is a long straight par 4 with a green surrounded by four bunkers.
Not an eye candy course, just good old fashion quality golf hole after quality golf hole. If you can get on, you gotta go.
We in St. Louis don't take kindly to being conflated with the Bay Area... it's just the Gateway Arch. ;)
A 1000 apologies. When I wrote it, i thought something was not quite right. Moral of the story, don't write reviews while drinking a cocktail
Or is it, don't drink a cocktail while writing a review?
A little truth serum never hurt any review!
One of the best in St Louis, Old Warson will challenge you throughout your golf bag. Host of the 1971 Ryder Cup the course while not by any means one of the older courses in the St Louis region still offers a reasonable amount of modern history and the design while nothing noteworthy is a great challenge. Conditioning is superb and I believe it is #11 has an awesome view of downtown St Louis which is hard to find at any other St Louis clubs. The experience is also first class if you ever are hosted by a member at this club. The locker room and clubhouse are certainly unforgettable as is the speed of the greens (quick). Many of the St Louis elite belong at this club and there is typically a waiting list. Play it and you will see why. I really enjoyed my round there.
Venue for the 1971 Ryder Cup, I considered Old Warson Country Club the most impressive course in the St. Louis region. While the layout doesn’t have the exciting changes in topology as nearby St Louis Country Club, I found myself thinking a lot more about club selection. It has a championship feel to it and I definitely used every club in the bag. This is also a litmus test for me. I played from 6,800 yards and felt challenged with every swing.
I recently played Point O’Woods up in Michigan which is another RTJ Senior golf course from the same time period as OWCC, and drew a lot of similarities between the two courses. It’s plain and simple, RTJ built really tough golf courses and will tap into your entire skill-set. Just ask Arnold Palmer, he lost a singles match 3&2 to a rookie called Peter Oosterhuis. Tree lined fairways, tricky dog-legs in both directions and tough pin positions will run rampant with your imagination until the cows come home. It’s a great marriage of architecture and history.