Among American collegiate golf courses, only Yale is more highly regarded than Stanford University.
The Stanford University Golf Course dates back to 1930, when Almon E. Roth, the University Controller, hired George C. Thomas Jnr and William P. Bell to design and construct an 18-hole layout for the Board of Trustees.
Additional land was acquired in order to bring the San Francisquito Creek into the design and Felt Lake was enlarged to provide a sufficient volume of water for irrigation. Indeed, half the total construction cost of $380,000 was spent on ensuring this water supply for course maintenance.
Robert Trent Jones Snr remodelled the course in 1968 then Donald Knott redesigned the 3rd and 4th holes in 2004 (creating back-to-back par threes) as well as restoring the original tee on the 5th hole – though some feel the architect should also have removed the two large trees in the fairway on the 473-yard 12th hole.
Quite a few Stanford University students have become noted professional golfers – including PGA and LPGA professionals Tom Watson, Tiger Woods, Mickey Wright and Michelle Wie – and former USGA presidents Sandy Tatum and Grant Spaeth both played for the Stanford University golf teams as students.
This has the reputation for being a tough golf course. My thoughts on this layout were:
· The back nine is superior to the dull front side as the land begins to undulate significantly
· The first three par 3s are all the same, which was terribly disappointing. Downhill over a ravine all the same distance. Significant lack of variety, which shocked me as the short holes are the opportunity to excite the player and emphasize imagination.
· The walking tracks from tees to fairways can be extraordinarily strange. For example, to get to the first fairway, you have to walk down a slope, cross an active motorway and traverse through a farm.
· The rough is rough and it’s a very tough walk getting up many of the severe slopes on the back-nine
· Many trees need to be removed. The 12th hole has huge trees in the middle of the fairway rendering it impossible for 99% of golfers to see the green, not to mind hitting it in regulation! There are trees along fairways planted right in front of bunker complexes which just bizarre.
The course did not blow me away and I wouldn’t rush back to play. While Stanford has a wonderful reputation for academics, I concluded that its appeal doesn’t extend to its golf course.