Golf Review: The Meadow Club – Fairfax, CA

The Meadow Club holds a certain historic significance in the game of golf, as it is the site of the first Dr. AlisterMacKenzie design on North American soil. After the Meadow Club design, the likes of Augusta National, Cypress Point Club, Crystal Downs, and Pasatiempo among many others, arose as some of the most spectacular golf courses in the United States. Meadow Club came before all those masterpieces, and between the years of 1999 and 2010, the club undertook the MacKenzieSignature Program to restore the original design of 1927. Dr. MacKenzie is one of the greatest architects to ever put his name to a golf course, and Meadow Club is where the legacy all began in the United States.


In all honesty, Meadow Club was my first time getting to see a MacKenzie design. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I hadn’t heard of Meadow Club before this Nor Cal trip, but one of my travel buddies suggested we make the drive up to Fairfax to see it. I had obviously heard of all of MacKenzie’s other courses, and have seen all the pictures of the undulating greens and distinct bunker shapes, but I wasn’t sure what I was in store for. Heck, I had even read the book, Golf Architecture by Dr. Alister MacKenzie, where he was able to discuss some of his architecture methods. 


During the MacKenzie Signature Program, Meadow Club underwent some massive tree removal. It was interesting to seeold pictures in the pro shop of the layout beforehand, compared to an almost bare layout now. It was always a priority to tell your membership in years past that you had planted such and such number of trees at your year-end meetings. It looked good to the membership, and it looked like you were giving back some to the environment. Now, courses are running into situations like Meadow Club did, where they had planted so many trees that they had gotten so far away from their original design, that it was time to get back to it. I know a lot of courses here in the Midwest have look to cut down more trees, not just for original design purposes, but to help with maintenance during the fall leaves season. 


Looking across the property I saw exactly what my eyes had desired. The distinctly shaped MacKenzie bunkers lurking in the distance. Standing on each tee they almost seemed to keep teasing you. All of them uniquely placed and uniquely shaped to challenge your driver, approach, and wedge game. The layout at Meadow Club was extremely fair. Maybe some of the most undulating greens I had ever played, but in a day where the winds rose above 30 mph, it never became unfair or too tricky. Going back to the original design, the player now has space without tree-lined fairways hindering a tee shot or approach. A player has space and open fairway to maneuver a tee shot or approach into a green. On occasion, you will take a line or two where you will not be able to see your ball land. There is plenty of opportunity to be aggressive off the tee, and if you do so confidently, you will be rewarded. 


Like I said, I had never played Meadow Club before, so I don’t know exactly what it looked like before the renovations of1999-2010, but as I saw in pictures there was a vast change in the landscape, and it truly felt like I was playing an original design. One before modern advances. My first Dr. AlisterMacKenzie was all that I thought it would be. A simple, yet very effective layout that offers challenge, strategy, and reward. I highly recommend this stop for anyone in the area and for anyone who loves the golden age of golf design. 



View from the tee on Hole 2

Hole 4 tee view

Hole 5, par 3. Hard to tell from here, but some serious slope off the front of that green

Approach to hole 6

Hole 8 par 3

Hole 15 par 5

Hole 17 approach. Another massive slope on the front of the green that will hinder all shots

Published by golfcourseraterguy

Sports fan with a passion for golf, basketball, and the Chicago Cubs.

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