If you want to experience some of the most uniquely complex greens in the USA, then you need to make a trip to Jamestown, NY and experience the greens at the Moonbrook Country Club, which was founded in 1918.
They have 11 untouched Willie Park Jr., greens that are incredible because they are optical illusions.
I say with all sincerity that the first time and really the first three times you play it you need to have a caddie because it takes that many times to figure out any of them. You will think you see a putt that breaks eight inches left to right, but the caddie will tell you that you are on the wrong side of the hole and where to hit it.
As a golf course architect, a seasoned professional, you would think I would understand how that happened – that it would be obvious.
These are incredible though, among the most incredible greens I’ve seen around the world, and they are the most unique Willie Park greens, too. I know there is a long list of PGA players who have stopped by Moonbrook just because of the reputation of the greens. They are an anomaly. They are great mysteries.
I don’t want anybody to get the idea they cross a line either. They are not goofy at all, not tricked up, no weird slopes or anything like that at all. They are just the biggest mysteries I’ve ever seen in a set of greens. Pete Dye sometimes has greens that are very difficult to read, but I’ve never seen any quite like this set of greens.
I had the privilege of consulting with this club several years ago. If you are a serious golfer you must make this trip. The spirit of Willie Park Jr. and his original design intent can be found in the following greens:2,3,4,5,8,9,10,15,16,17,18.
I think it is a real testimony to that club that they are untouched. As you know at many clubs you might get a board or a committee or even an individual who wants to put their stamp on the course, and you might get an architect who wants to put his stamp on the whole thing. It didn’t happen at Moonbrook, at least on those 11 greens. I know a number of architects have been there and done some work there, but those 11 greens are really special to the club and God bless them for realizing that.
Willie Park wrote a great golf book on putting (The Art of Putting). It’s a must-read. It doesn’t get into architecture, but it is worth noting that Willie Park studied putting.
I’ve studied, worked and consulted at many Willie Park courses over the years – the old Meadowbrook in Detroit, Flint Golf Club, Olympia Fields near Flossmoor in Chicago, and they have wonderful greens. But these 11 at Moonbrook are the most unique of Willie Park’s mysterious greens.