The U.S. Open – Merion Golf Club
12 June 2013 / 2 Comments
Fox Chapel Golf Club is a Golden Age gem designed in 1923 by one of golf’s greatest architects, Seth Raynor. It has played host to a number of championship events including the 1985 US Womens Open, the 2002 Curtis Cup and most recently the Senior Players Championship among others. The course is held in high regard by many of the game’s legends including Tom Watson, who summed the course up perfectly when he said, “I always define great golf courses by how well you remember it, and I remember virtually every hole on the golf course.” and also that “It has a variety of long holes and short holes, from the Biarritz green at No. 17 to the redan hole on the front (No. 6) and the drivable par-4 right after that. (No. 7)”
As a competitor and a golf architecture buff, Fox Chapel fits into my list of favorite courses very close to the top. The course is challenging and features classic Golden Age architecture, making for a unique experience. As Tom Watson alluded to, you have to be able to hit a variety of shots throughout the round because no two holes are the same. The original design by Raynor was completed by Charles Banks in 1923 after Raynor’s sudden death at the age of 51. In 2001, the course underwent a restoration project by Brian Silva to restore the original Raynor design in which trees were removed and bunkers were restored back to their rectangular shape. The steep vertical faces, especially around the greens, make for a unique and distinguishing feature at Fox Chapel.
The round gets started on possibly the best six opening holes I’ve ever played. To put it in perspective, the first is a medium length par-4, the second a reachable 5, the third a 200 yard par-3 over water, the fourth a long straight away par-4, five is a 320 yard par-4 and six is a Redan par-3. Talk about variety. And it doesn’t stop there. Seven is a drivable par-4 along the road, presenting a number of decisions to be made on the tee. Eight is a beastly dogleg right par-4 requiring either a fade off of the tee or a gamble over the trouble right and the ninth is another good 4 back up the hill to a back-to-front green.
The variety of holes continues on the back nine with a tough stretch of holes, as ten features a great two tiered back to front green, eleven is a great short par-3, twelve is a short par-4 with a blind second shot to a green that sits behind a large mound, thirteen is a dramatic dogleg right, and fourteen is a tough straight away par-4 to a well-protected green.The last four holes kick it up a notch with holes that will test your every nerve. Fifteen is a challenging par-4 with a demanding downhill tee shot back up to an elevated green guarded by deep bunkering. Sixteen is a 430 yard par-4 that requires two great shots in order to hit the green in regulation. Seventeen is a 230 yard par-3 featuring the famed Biarritz green. It can play anywhere from 185 yards to 230 yards depending on whether the pin is in the front or back. The eighteenth is a great finishing par-5 with a creek that winds up the right side and accross the fairway 150 yards out, making for an intimidating tee shot and requires three good shots.
The variety of holes mixed with brilliant bunkering and very challenging green complexes makes Fox Chapel Golf Club one of the best courses in America. It is ranked #88 on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Courses of 2013, and deserves a spot in the top 50.
Fox Chapel Golf Club Gallery
12 June 2013 / 2 Comments
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