Lawrence Taylor, the linebacker from North Carolina, once said: “I like golf because I can go out and hit a little white ball that doesn’t move and doesn’t hit back. It should be easy, but it isn’t…” Most everyone has heard that the game of golf as we know it dates back to Scotland in the Middle Ages, though there is evidence that the Scots were influenced by other “stick and ball” games found in France, Holland, and Germany. The word “golf” derives from the medieval Dutch term “kolf” which means “club.” The Dutch and Scots were trading partners and the game may have come to Scotland through them. Even the Romans had an earlier version of the game. Some of these games were played on ice. Sounds a little bit like hockey, doesn’t it?
Regardless of where it originated, those tricky Scots dug a hole in the ground and made it the object of the game to get a little ball into it, much to the chagrin of millions of weekend hackers all over the world. I remember playing a little course in rural Missouri where you had to climb up the side of a bluff and hit the ball OVER a whole grove of trees. A lot of squirrels were running for their lives that day.
There are a lot of world-class private golf courses around St. Louis like Bogey Hills, The Legends, Bellerive Country Club, and Forest Hills where you can blow a considerable amount of money to join and pay the monthly greens fee. But if you are like most of us, you head out on the weekend to find a public course and hope that it isn’t to crowded. Here are a few of my favorites:
The Norman K. Probstein Community golf Course in Forest Park. All of the local here call it Forest Park and many wouldn’t have a clue as to what you were talking about if you called it by its proper name, not that we have anything against ole Norman, whoever he was. The course in the northwest quadrant corner of the park. The park is one of the nation’s best urban parks, patterned after Central Park in New York, and is also home to the St. Louis Zoo and the Art Museum. The golf course sits on the site of the 1904 World’s Fair. The first nine holes opened in 1912 and included a par-5 that played across the front lawn of the Art Museum. The course has recently enjoyed a $12.5 million restoration that includes a new clubhouse and a restaurant.
The prices here are reasonable: weekdays, $24 to walk, $35 to ride. Add $10 on the weekends. The phone number is (314) 367-1337.
Quail Creek 6022 Wells (314) 487-1988 Hale Irwin designed Quail Creek when he was between his championships on the regular tour and the Senior tour. When the course opened in 1986, a lot of people in the area were saying that Irwin was a better golf course designer than he was a player, and he won the U.S. Open three times! This course is on of the area’s favorite destinations for corporate outings. It has four sets of tees, playing from 4,120 to 6,805 yards. It is rated as one of the area’s best public courses. Fees will set you back a little more than at the parks: $50 weekdays, $57 weekends.
Tapawingo National Golf Club (636) 349-3100 One of the most beautiful and well-groomed courses in the area. Tapawingo features 3 different 9-hole layouts that offer totally different challenges to all levels of players. The giant, recently remodeled clubhouse is great. The multiple tees allow more golfers to play. The back is about 7000 yards with no shortcuts.
Tower Tee 627 Heege Road (314) 481-5818 I know, I know, this little 3-par is really nothing more than miniature golf on steroids, but it’s a great place to practice your short game and it’s where everybody learns to play when they were a kid……I did.