Country Club of St. Albans
Tavern Creek Course
St. Albans, MO
You may think of Delaware for its many contributions to early American history, and as the home of DuPont, but certainly not for having steep hills and hard rocky ledges. When Hurdzan/Fry was first invited to the site of Fieldstone by its founders, Buddy Reed and Dr. Barry Roseman, we expected nice rolling farm fields and deep rich topsoil. Those must be in some other part of the state. But what we found instead didn’t disappoint us.
Perhaps if we hadn’t done so many mountain golf courses by that time, we might have labeled the site as "impossible." Instead, we labeled it "expensive." One great truth of course design we've learned over the years is that the more difficult the site is to work with, the more spectacular will be the finished product. We knew the Fieldstone site would produce an incredible golf course. Buddy and Barry thought so too, but they were seeing it from a player’s perspective. We approached it as designers who had to make things work.
Buddy is a fixture in Delaware golf, has played in every important tournament in the region, and has been considered one of the area's leading amateurs. These guys know golf and golf courses. They knew exactly what they wanted - a first class member’s club on land owned by Mrs. Lisa Moseley, a member of the DuPont family.
The routing was the one and only possible way to get in both returning nines and a practice range, even if it was going to take a little rock-blasting and a lot of earthmoving to make things work. The clubhouse is nicely located atop the highest hill, with spectacular views of the pristine Delaware countryside and golf holes below.
Fieldstone's routing builds in suspense and tension the farther into each nine you play, with the individual character of each hole determined by what was there when we started. The par-5 second hole is carved into a hillside that narrows as it gets closer to the green, thus placing a greater value on accuracy the longer the golfer hits it. It's a classic risk-and- reward strategy that just happens to occur naturally. The tees for the fourth hole are perfectly positioned on one hilltop and the landing area on another. The two are separated by a 60-foot deep valley. It takes only a 180-yard carry to reach the fairway, but it looks much, much longer. The par-3 sixth hole plays downhill some 90 feet. The par-3 eighth is positioned in a valley, with ponds, waterfalls and a hillside backdrop.
What people may remember most at this fine club are not the natural elements, but the manmade ones. The clubhouse was designed in the style of a farmhouse and it seems to fit the site so perfectly that it feels as if it's been there forever. It feels quaint and snug, but is really quite large in its square footage. There are the several manmade ponds on the course, adding much diversity to the site. The foundations of homesteads of early settlers were preserved and integrated into play areas. But probably the most distinguishing feature are the dry-stacked fieldstone walls that Buddy and Barry had built throughout the property. These walls add an Old Country color and texture to the golfscape.
Stonewalls were also used to support tee slopes, define boundaries, establish backdrops for some greens and occasionally even to serve as hazards. There is a strength and direction to the walls that seem to reflect the value of golf itself.
Of all of the golf courses done by Hurdzan/Fry, none more reflects the character and sense of its location than does Fieldstone.