Stanford University Golf Course: Tiger's Old Home Stands Up Well

By Ray Brewer, Contributor

STANFORD, Calif. - When it comes to collegiate golf tradition, one is hard pressed to find any program with more history than Stanford's.

From producing tour professionals like Tom Watson and Tiger Woods, to consistently being in the top 10 of the national rankings, the Cardinal program is arguably head-and-shoulders above the rest.

A big reason for this success is the Stanford University Golf Course, one of a handful of courses situated on a college campus across the nation - others being Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin, to name a few.

"For golf, it [having the course on campus] makes things quiet a bit easier," said Herman McKee, head professional of the university's greens. "It's something that is a big draw.

"Most schools have access to different courses, but when a top course is right in your backyard, it's a real advantage."

The course is located in the foothills above Stanford's campus and was designed in 1930 by renowned golf course architects William Bell and George C. Thomas, Jr.

Some 70 years later and this facility is one of the nation's best. In 1998, the course was ranked No. 91 by Golf Week Magazine in the publication's top 100 courses in the country

"It's a very playable course," McKee said. "It's a course that requires every shot in the golf bag."

When looking at the course layout, two things stand out - mature oak trees and a stunning view of the San Francisco and entire Bay Area. Both attributes where took into consideration at the beginning stages of the course design.

The land on which the course was constructed had plenty of oak trees, but a shortage of water need to make a top-notch facility.

Course designers fixed both problems in creating a course that was acknowledged as a top 15 course in the 1930s by Dr. H.J. Morlan, a golfing pioneer who had swung his clubs on over 800 courses.

Felt Lake was enlarged 278 million gallons - at the price of $190,000 - and 75 of the oak trees were removed, making the landscape of the course just right.

Now that the course is complete, holes Nos. 12 and 18 are two of the nicest holes in northern California.

To say the least, hole No. 12 is a challenge, with two gigantic oak trees dead center in the middle of the fairway. And No. 18 gives you a perfect view of the Bay Area from the tee box (don't forget your camera!).

The Stanford University Golf Course, home to several top professional, collegiate and junior events each year, is under the direction of Stanford's Department of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation.

It's very complex to get a round of the course. Playing privileges are available to students, faculty and alumni. However, the waiting list to become a member is so long, the course no longer accepts applications.

Battling No. 12: It's a par-four, 473-yards with the two oak trees (obstacles) placed roughly 250 yards in the middle of the fairway.

McKee says these trees force the golfer to make a decision on which way to play the shot, to the left or to the right.

"The safe shot is to the left," McKee said. "But the challenging shot is the fade down to the right. The right is also a little shorter."

This is a long hole, so McKee recommends you strike your driver good on the first shot. If not, you could wind up in the middle of the two oak trees, starring at a bogey or worse.

For more information, contact the course at (650) 323-0944.

Ray Brewer, Contributor

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