It didn’t take long for Moraine Country Club to get some big-time recognition for the $5 million renovation of its golf course that was completed last summer.
Back in April, Golfweek magazine saluted Moraine’s improvements by restoring the course to its Top 100 Classic Courses list after leaving it off the previous list.
Then Moraine members and staff got a delightful surprise 10 days ago when GOLF magazine in its October edition had Moraine’s course 89th on its 2017 list of the Top 100 in the United States.
It is the first time the Moraine course has been in a top 100 listing by either GOLF or Golf Digest — the best-known golf magazines.
John Haley, club president, was elated when he heard the news. “To be listed among the best courses in the country means a lot and is special to us,” Haley said. “We’re the only course in the area to be selected by GOLF magazine.”
“To be honest, this came as a surprise to us,” Moraine golf professional Brent Sipe said. “We think of ourselves as having a classic golf course — one of those built before 1960. We like to be in Golfweek’s top 100 classics.
“We got up to No. 56 (several years ago). Then we started backsliding and fell out of it. We fell out of it because we had issues.”
Those issues included poor drainage, turf grass problems, a couple of mediocre par 3 holes and some some difficult green slopes built for slower grasses used many years ago.
Architect Keith Foster addressed those issues when he ordered some changes to the course designed by Alec “Nipper” Campbell in the late 1920s.
Moraine, which had developed fairways lined with old trees, looked dramatically different after Foster restored the course to its original Scottish look by having some 200 trees removed.
So how did Moraine get the attention of GOLF magazine?
“The renovation probably is what got us in there,” Sipe said. And Keith Foster is pretty hot.”
Haley said, “The recognition is a nice tribute to the work done by Keith Foster and our green superintendent, Jason Mahl.”
David DeNunzio, editor of GOLF, described his magazine’s top 100 list as a “celebration of design excellence.”
Moraine hired a golf public relations firm that got the word of its renovation into the hands of those who play courses and rate them for the magazines.
“Since we re-opened we had about 60 come through for different publications,” Sipe said. The raters play the course and fill out a report for the publication they represent.
Other Ohio courses on GOLF Magazine’s list are: Muirfield Village (29), Camargo of Cincinnati (31), The Golf Club at New Albany (40), Inverness at Toledo (44), and Scioto of Columbus (79).
Canterbury Golf Club of Beachwood didn’t make it. Neither did Akron’s Firestone Country Club nor Dayton’s NCR South Course, which has been on the top 100 lists of both GOLF and Golf Digest many times in the last 30 years?
NCR South was 11th among the top 18 Ohio courses on the recent Golf Digest classic course listing and Moraine was 15th.