St. Louis Country Club Is At The Top Of Their Game

By James F. Moore, director, Green Section Education
June 11, 2014

Illustrating the present and past, the image on the left shows a flag from the 2014 Curtis Cup held at St. Louis Country Club. Next to the flag is a very old section of drainage tile (circa 1914) recovered in 2008 during a drainage improvement project. The image on the right illustrates the drainage tile design of the number 12 green. By pumping water into the drainage system through the small pipe, the green could be sub-irrigated.

The Curtis Cup was contested at St. Louis Country Club last week and culminated with the USA recapturing the trophy from the Great Britain and Ireland team. This was an extraordinary event that included intense competition, outstanding sportsmanship and unbelievable shot-making. It also featured a golf course that few can match. The course, designed and built in 1914 by Charles Blair MacDonald, was perfect in every way. Superintendent Tim Burch and his highly talented staff provided playing conditions that every golfer dreams of experiencing.

St. Louis Country Club is passionate about retaining the MacDonald design and has done so despite the many changes to the game since 1914. Superintendent Burch is equally committed to preserve the history of the course and has turned into something of a golf course archaeologist as repair work unearths artifacts of long-past maintenance practices and construction techniques. One of the most interesting relics is pictured above. It was unearthed in 2008 during some drainage improvements being made behind the first green. While many would recognize the clay tile as an old drainage component, very few would understand the function of the smaller lead pipe cemented into the tile section. While the large tile’s obvious function was to carry excess drainage water away from the rootzone, the smaller pipe was used to pump water into the drain lines. Since the tile sections were not water-tight, this resulted in a functional subsurface irrigation system as illustrated in the second photo. To say MacDonald was ahead of his time would be an understatement.

On a personal note, I wish to express my thanks to the entire staff at St. Louis Country Club. Much like the women representing the USA and GB&I, every member of the maintenance and clubhouse staff pulled together as a team to make the 2014 Curtis Cup a tremendous success and a wonderful experience.

Source: James F. Moore (jmoore@usga.org

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