Keith Foster is one of the most acclaimed classic course restorers in the world, but his personal style often tends to more modern thinking. As with many of his originals, Persimmon Woods blends a bit of both schools.
No. 7 is theoretically drivable for the biggest hitters but a creek attaching irrigation ponds will make most think otherwise. Most players will lay up and a centreline bunker will make them debate whether to play away from the green, or to thread the needle between the bunker and a pond. Historic, Golden Age touches come into play at No. 13, another short par four that mimics the famous “Peconic” hole from National Golf Links of America. A diagonal line of bunkers makes the player debate whether to go wide or go over to best access the angled green. Crooked Creek will live up to its name, winding throughout the property.
The club is quick to promote its walkability, citing stats that 42% of rounds at Persimmon Woods are walked ones.
As the golf course boom in the St. Louis area waned in the late 1990s, many new developments in rapidly growing St. Charles County northwest of the city evolved away from public golf towards residential private clubs or worse, housing developments without golf courses. Persimmon Woods went against the trend, opening in 1998 as a true “golfer’s club”, a Keith Foster design with no residential component whatsoever and even without typical modern American country club amenities such as a swimming pool or fitness center. To their credit, they’ve maintained that distinctive character twenty-some years in.
The course itself is solid, probably one of the better strategic layouts in the area. The green complexes are large and undulating, and the bunkering is superb. The front nine is more open and takes advantage of the hillier portions of the property, while the back nine takes the player through denser wooded areas along the creeks that bisect the layout. The best holes include: #6, a long, sweeping dogleg right par four with a berm partially obscuring the fairway and a green with a few nasty pinnable areas; #7, a dare-you-to-try-it par short par four guarded by water that features a centerline bunker right in the middle of the layup area; #13, another solid short par four with many options; and the home hole, a risk/reward par five featuring a whole mess of mounds and yet another a centerline bunker in the layup area.
If I had any criticism, it’s the penal nature of the native grass areas, which lay a bit too close to the edges of the fairways (as close as 6-8 yards in some places); balls are rarely findable in there, much less playable, as is common in the lush humid summers around here – so the criticism isn’t really unique to Persimmon Woods. That said, it’s a unique modern layout with some cool holes and immensely fun to play. I’d consider it narrowly better than Lake Forest as the second-best course in St. Charles County, behind only the sublime Boone Valley.