St. Albans sits in a beautiful landscape of forested rolling hills on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River just outside St. Louis. It’s a residential club with two courses on site, the older, longer, and more challenging of which is the Lewis & Clark, a 1990s Weiskopf & Morrish effort. Despite the substantial elevation change on the property, the course mostly sits in the valleys surrounding Tavern Creek and its tributaries (which is a bit confusing when looking at the routing of the two courses; the other course, after all, is named Tavern Creek). This lack of variety in the terrain is somewhat disappointing, but the logistical challenges of building a golf course into the Missouri hills full of clay soils certainly make it understandable.
The course begins by crossing the state highway onto the Tavern Creek valley, with the first few holes running along the road and as somewhat unmemorable. The terrain on the front nine is particuarly flat, but there are a few solid holes: #4, a picturesque downhill par three, #5, a devilish driveable par four with bunkers and mounds everywhere, and #6, a massive sweeping dogleg left par five that runs along the creek its entire length.
The back nine provides a little more variety in terms of terrain, and also introduces a non-obtrusive housing component to the course. The most interesting holes based on my opinion are on the inward side. #12 is a par three “signature” hole with an elevated tee and green with an articifial waterfall behind the green. The challenge in the hole is due to the tiny, heavily sloped green leaving little margin for error. #13, which in my opinion is the best hole on the course, is a brutal uphill dogleg left par four with a mounded fairway and a semi-blind approach. #16 is a tight, winding short par four that plays much harder than it looks, while the last two holes are both long, tough, downhill par fours with #17 commanding a majestic view from its elevated tee and #18 featuring a creek fronting the green to force errant drives into a difficult layup decision.
This course is a scenic one with good conditioning and the routing is overall very solid; however, there’s a feeling of artificiality to it that is a staple of 1990s-era courses, particularly on the front nine, that hurts it in my opinion and keeps it from being truly world-class.
Played July 28, August 2, & 3, 2018
Date: October 10, 2018