Friday, December 01, 2006

Inverness Club

18th hole and Inverness clubhouse at dusk

As I was driving from Detroit Metro Airport to Toledo, Ohio a friend called me on my cell phone. He asked where I was and I told him and started laughing with joy. He thought I should be in a rubber-padded room being excited about driving between two rust-belt cities. Obviously he's not a golf fanatic.

Playing the top 100 has really given me a new perspective on life. Yes, I am truly excited to travel to Detroit and Toledo to play great golf. It really has forced me to have a more open mind. The Inverness Club (ranked #58 in the world) is located in a lovely neighborhood of Toledo not far from the University of Toledo.

Inverness is a Donald Ross gem originally designed in 1919. The course has been changed over the years by Arthur Hills and Tom Fazio as well. Byron Nelson served as the pro at Inverness at one time. Inverness has played host to six major championships - the U.S. Open in 1920, 1931, 1957 and 1979 and the P.G.A. Championship in 1986 and 1993. It also hosted the U.S. Amateur in 1973 won by Craig Stadler. Although the winners of the Opens at Inverness are not exactly household names (Edward Ray, Dick Mayer, Hale Irwin and Billy Burke) it is unquestionably a championship golf course.

If I had to sum up Inverness in two words: small greens. Inverness has the smallest greens of any golf course I have ever played. Almost every green is a postage stamp green.

The approach to the 2nd green

Not only is each green very small, but the predominant design feature of the course is well guarded greens with narrow openings that require accurate approaches. Each green has either mounds on both sides or bunkers with high lips as you can see in the pictures above and below. It is a fairly easy driving course, with wide fairways. The trick at Inverness is getting on the greens in regulation. It requires very precise iron play.

Approach to 8th green

I liked the layout and routing at Inverness. I especially liked the 7th hole, which is the #1 handicap. You play your tee shot from an elevated tee. The ideal tee shot favors the right side of the fairway, but in shades of Carnoustie, you have to flirt with a burn that snakes subtly throughout the entire course. The second shot is straight uphill and really favors an approach from the right as opposed to left side of the fairway since a big sycamore tree sits at the top of a plateau protecting the green.

The approach to the 7th green

As is customary in Ross's designs, Inverness has its fair share of holes with shaved areas around the small greens such as the one below on the 4th hole.

The 4th green

Sorry to disappoint, but no jokes about Toledo. It seems like a perfectly nice middle-America city to me. I very much enjoyed playing Inverness, although I didn't hit many of the greens in regulation. Inverness is another good example of how technology is ruining tournament golf. This gem of a course can no longer host professional tournaments because technology has made it too short, which is a shame.

Inverness is a private club and you are required to play with a member.

2 comments: said...

I just played Inverness for me first time last week. A truly excellent course. I love your write up. My favorite holes were 4, 7, 10, and 18. The history surrounding 18 is unreal as is that green!!! I think 10 is underated.

Anonymous said...

I loved the feeling at Inverness. The clubhouse was great, like a museum. Everyone was friendly, and the course was very enjoyable; one you could play everyday. Even though I really enjoyed it, I think it is ranked too highly. I also think the 18th hole was not a worthy finishing hole for a course as good as this.