The Seven Oaks Golf Club was one of Robert Trent Jones’s original designs, however it was far from one of his original builds. Colgate University had hired the young New Jersey architect to come up with a nine-hole design for the club but then history intervened. First the Great Depression delayed thoughts of building, and then World War II did the same. Finally, nearly 30 years after putting together his thoughts, Jones — by then an architect of significant acclaim — finally returned to the property during 1958 to break ground.
The course sits just east of Hamilton, with the property divided by Payne Street. This isn’t the only “Payne” that players will be feeling during the round, however. The closing hole is the longest on the course and it hugs Payne Brook, which flows down the right side of the par five before pooling next to the putting surface. The same body flows across the fairway at the previous hole.
The six holes that close out the course sit on the north side of the street and, despite their relatively easy handicaps on the scorecard, they will make players eager to get home to the clubhouse.
Quality RTJ, Sr., layout but the style of architecture has clearly faded into the background. Layout has all the Jones inclusions -- long narrow tee boxes, turning point holes, large greens and mega-sized bunkers that dot the landscape.
The issue is that while the course clearly hit its strides in its early days the bar for quality golf courses at the University level throughout the United States has clearly risen a good deal. Fortunately, the Jones fingerprints are still intact but the nature of what constitutes superior design has certainly moved on with more engaging and thought producing courses.
M. James Ward