To celebrate C.B. Macdonald’s birthday, let’s take a look at a hole from St. Louis C.C. (SLCC). This Macdonald design opened in 1914 and is one of his few designs that remain today.
The fourteenth hole is among the most well-regarded at SLCC. The structure of this 416-yard par-4 reminds one a bit of the 12th at Fishers Island (albeit longer). The natural slope of the fairway provides subtle strategy and challenges, but the star of the hole is the green complex.
The green complex is a unique reverse Redan, with severe slopes. Two features you won’t find elsewhere include a small pot bunker in the back left and a large shoulder on the right side. These features are unique, and they add interest to the approach shot. This green doesn’t favor a specific type of approach shot. High spinning shots are one option. But the wide opening in the front also allows for low running shots. When pins are tucked to the rear of the green, balls can be fed in from the left side or off the right shoulder.
Front-to-back sloping greens are uncommon in American golf. The Redan is, however, a staple of Macdonald’s designs for good reason: it demands a quality approach shot. Distance, trajectory and spin all have to be perfect.
Finding the fairway on the 14th is imperative to control the spin of the approach shot. Power is an advantage, but not a necessity. It’s a quintessential “second shot” hole because this terrific green complex and thoughtful strategic bunkering reward the precise player.