Claremont Country Club and the Rix

Claremont Country Club

I played at Claremont Country Club recently in an invitational golf tournament called the Rix. It was a really enjoyable golf event, where teams of two players play five nine-hole match play games within their flight or handicap category. Indeed, the team with the most points won from each flight will progress to the playoff.

The playoff was great entertainment. The format is straight foursomes and typically since nobody really plays that format too often, anything can happen. Also, to make the course even more difficult to play, the greens are rolled again and new holes are cut in very tricky areas. So much so, that players can four-putt easily and I do recall watching a couple of players taking eight putts to get the ball in the hole. Anyhow, poor me, my team did not make the playoffs!

Eight teams of two played the 1st hole, then over to the 8th hole were five teams played and finally, three teams progressed to the final playoff hole, the 18th. Amazingly, two teams that progressed were from highest handicap flights (7&8) along with the winners from the lowest handicap flight played the final hole. Clearly, each of the teams were made of good old hard grit and they all tied the 18th. The final playoff was a 110-yard made-up par three from the 9th fairway hitting to the 18th green. Each team hit, the crowd were gathered around the 18th green and they cheered loudly as two shots almost hit the green and finally one ball hit the green.

The honour when to the top team as they made an excellent birdie to win the Rix for 2018. Great fun had by all and definitely, this event is on my scorecard for 2019.

Claremont County Club
The 1st Hole at Claremont County Club

The Course at Claremont County Club

However, the course measures less than 5,800 yards from the back tees. Certainly, looking at the length of the course, it is easy to think that this course plays dead easy! However, that is not the case and far from easy! In the spirit of Alister Mackenzie, the club has completed numerous on-course redesigned work ensuring that the course remains as close as possible to the original design by Dr Alister Mackenzie Course.

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Claremont Country Club

Claremont Country Club 6th Hole

Claremont Country Club

Albeit this course is possibly the toughest par 68, 5,485-yard course I have ever played. Claremont Country Club is a private members club located in Oakland, California, USA.  Alister Mackenzie redesigned this course back in 1926 and I understand the club has stayed true to Mackenzie’s design principles.

My recent golf experience has attracted me to write about Claremont. As I really enjoyed playing this golf course and I found myself deeply thinking about what type of shot to play on every hole. In general, the greens are deceivingly difficult to play with delicate brutal breaks that will not help your putting stats. As far as I can understand, uphill or flat putts are difficult to locate on any of the eighteen greens.

The Front Nine

The front nine has a list of challenges off each tee-box, however, playing to greens 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 requires a range of precision golf shots. May I suggest hitting those shots within 5 to15 feet of the hole! Therefore you may avoid the severe sloping putts! However, should you miss the green? You will need an excellent short game to deal with the deep bunkers and or tough chips shots.

Claremont Country Club
8th Green at Claremont County Club

I like holes 6, 7 and 8. The 6th is a hole that you can play a number of different ways. You can hit a 175 yard shot off the tee to the right side of the fairway. Thus leaving you with an uphill 80 to 100 yard shot depending on the flag location. Or, I like to go for the green off the tee. Missing the green short is more or less dead. The ball can roll back 50 to 70 yards or you may have to deal with the deep bunkers with high lips. The bunkers are located 20 to 40 feet below the green.

Hitting a good tee shot is not as important as playing a top quality 2nd shot to the 7th hole. The shot can be anything from 90 yards to 150 yards up the hill and the 7th green that slopes from back to front. Should you spin the ball too much from your 2nd shot. Most likely the ball will roll off the green and leave you with a very tricky chip shot.

Now the 8th hole is a par 3 that playing over 164 yards. But, really this hole plays 135 yards as the green is located significantly lower that the teeing ground. There is should be no surprise that this green visibly slopes from back to front. If you can, I recommend playing shot of the hole to give yourself a chance of an uphill birdie putt.

The Back Nine

On the whole, the back nice is not much easier. The 10th hole is a par three that measures from a 124 tee box to 164 yard back tee. Consequently, the goal with this tee shot is a measured distance controlled precise shot. Otherwise, you may be playing a really tough chip or a hard bunker shot.

The 11th thought 13th holes are probably the toughest stretch of holes to play on this course. Besides, the fact that your total golfing skills are required to deal with all three greens that are hard, difficult and extreme putting. Good tee shots played are critical to any possibility of finishing the holes with decent scores. Should you pull or a hook your tee shot left off the 11th tee? You will be greeted by a magical water hazard running amongst a line of trees and not to mention there is out of bounds and a graveyard located on the right-side.

The obstacles for the 12th tee shot are similar to the 11th but, I would say the 12th is a tighter tee shot. Again there is out of bounds to the right side of the hole and if you miss left, you may be lucky with the resulting lie. There is not much rough to stop the ball rolling off a steep slope to the 13th hole. It’s likely you can find a terrible lie or lose your ball.

Finally, the 13th hole is a par 3 called the Devil. This hole plays 223 yards from the back tee and slightly up hill. I maintain you can play a 190-yard shot to lay up short of the green, then try to chip and put for a par. Or, hit the best shot you can aiming at the left side of the green with a club that will carry the ball over a 70-foot tree with a hanging branch 210 yards. Should you miss the green right, the bunker of death awaits you! They are just three really good holes.

 

Happy Halloween
Beware of the Greens at Claremont

The Finishing line in sight, 14th – 18th

The finishing holes 14th – 18th are slightly softer than 11th – 13th. Good shots can reward you with birdie putts. The 16th hole is a tree lined hole and again, a water hazard/creek runs along the left-hand side of the hole. A bad tee shot right is not the end of the world as the golf ball may encounter the bouncing ball off the fence trick that keeps the ball in play. Otherwise, the ball is out of bounds to the right. Should you hit the fairway, be careful as too much to the left of the green may send you ball into the creek. Equally, the 17th hole is a tough little par 3 with a lethal green. Finishing with a par 5, 501 yards, this hole is called last chance and why not give it a rip off the tee to go for the green in two.

In my opinion, Claremont Country Club is a fantastic challenge. Each shot requires a plan of action that is thought out with the next shot in mind.

Did you know that Sam Snead won his first professional at The Oakland Open hosted at Claremont Country Club; his winning scores were 69-65-69-67.

Why golfers like difference golf courses over other courses typically depends on how well they played at that course they like. I have not scored that well at Claremont, but I really like the challenge the course offers up to golfers. You need accuracy and distance control along with a great short game to score well on this course. However, I feel that Claremont Country Club is an easy course to like and I hope you play there sometime. Please feel free to add comments to my review if you have played Claremont before?

John Dooley PGA

www.conciergegolfireland.com