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Story of the Golf Course

"A Bit of Scotland Transplanted to the Miami Valley"

Nestled within a breathtaking landscape, meticulously sculpted by glaciers with lush, rolling hills, the Moraine Golf Course evokes the timeless charm of a classic Scottish links-style design. In fact, Scotland is where the captivating story of this magnificent course begins.

In the late 1800s, a determined young golfer named Alec "Nipper" Campbell practiced relentlessly on the rugged shores of Scotland, using golf balls retrieved from the sea. By the age of 17, he had already clinched victory in the Scottish Open. At just 19, he ascended to the prestigious role of head golf professional at The Country Club at Brookline.

With a professional golf career spanning over three decades, Campbell emerged as an exceptionally talented golfer. Yet, it was during the years spent teaching others the art of the game and instilling in them the essence of excellence that he achieved one of his most remarkable feats: teaching others how to play the game, and play it well. 

During his tenure at Brookline, Campbell solidified his status as a masterful mentor of the sport. It was here that he guided a 20-year-old Francis Ouimet to a historic playoff victory in the 1913 Open, triumphing over the esteemed British champions, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray.  Known to many as the "father of amateur golf," Ouimet, a former caddie, became one of the most beloved players in the sport and changed the face of the game.

It was also at Brookline that Campbell honed his skills in golf course design, infusing his profound knowledge of the game into the very fabric of the club's greens. He meticulously reshaped the course to better accommodate the modern, longer-playing Haskell ball.

In time, Campbell's talents as a golf course designer led him to Moraine, where, standing amidst 170 acres of wooded splendor, he instantly envisioned the creation of a great golf course. He realized the terrain felt strikingly reminiscent of his native Scotland, characterized by natural topography sculpted by rolling hills and glaciers.

Guided by his philosophy that the best golf course is built into the land you've got, Campbell masterfully incorporated the plains, drumlins, and erratics into a course that presented a formidable challenge to both seasoned professionals and novice players. He loved that the golf course at Moraine was never boring, and editors at Golf Digest agreed with his sentiment; ranking it amongst the toughest courses in the country.

Moraine Golf Course has carved out a lasting legacy in the world of golf, and its impressive rankings provide a clear testament to its excellence. Currently, it holds the 72nd position in Golfweek's prestigious list of Top 100 Classic Courses. Furthermore, Moraine is ranked at the 80th spot in Golfweek's Top 100 Courses in the United States, solidifying its reputation as a golfing gem.

Additionally, Moraine finds recognition in Golf Digest's esteemed Top 200 rankings, where it holds the 146th position. These accolades underscore the enduring allure of Moraine and the masterful blend of the sport with the natural world, a testament to Campbell's vision and expertise. This fusion has made Moraine a cherished destination for golf enthusiasts, resonating with generations of players who have embraced its beauty and challenge since its completion in 1930. Campbell's declaration that the course is "a piece of Scotland transplanted to the Miami Valley" remains a fitting tribute to the course's enduring legacy.

"He stood on my grandfather's shoulders to see what he could see."

A testament to the enduring qualities of Campbell's original vision for the course. Over time, thousands of trees had been planted on the course, bunkers altered, and various changes had diverted it from its Scottish links-style roots. Moraine, acknowledging the need to restore it to its roots, enlisted the renowned golf course architect Keith Foster for the task. Foster, renowned for his expertise in restoring classic courses while honoring their history and traditions, accepts only two projects per year.

Foster left no stone unturned in the meticulous renovation process. He pored over vintage photographs and drawings of the 1930 design, using them as guiding beacons throughout the restoration journey. Colin Campbell, the grandson of Nipper Campbell, marveled at Foster's approach to the restoration process, remarking it was like "he stood on my grandfather's shoulders to see what he could see. Like Campbell,  Foster takes immense pride in measuring his work by the seamless integration of the land and the course. He relishes the opportunity to organically merge the game with the existing landscape.

Moraine's Superintendent noted that Foster possesses an extraordinary ability to see nuances that elude others. The outcome of this collaborative effort is nothing short of a magnificent return to the course's original vision. Vintage photographs and drawings uncovered long-forgotten bunkers, several of which Foster reintroduced during the restoration. Observing the swiftness of certain slopes, he made subtle modifications to reduce their severity. Foster recognized the need for additional bunkering on a few holes, and those updates were thoughtfully incorporated.

As a vital part of the renovation process, nearly 2,000 trees were meticulously removed from the course. This step was not only essential to restore the course's original Scottish links design but also to eliminate obstructions like trees and roots, thereby reinstating the original hole routings. Fewer trees equate to reduced maintenance in terms of watering, fertilization, and mowing, which is not only beneficial for the course but also for the environment.

In the quest to make the course faster and firmer, eight miles of drainage were intricately added to tees, greens, and wet areas of the fairways. The fairways were widened to mirror the dimensions of the original 1930s layout. Recognizing the concept of tying greens into adjoining tees, commonly found in Scottish golf courses, Foster introduced this design element to four additional holes on the course. Adjustments were also made to the 15th green, which had been rebuilt in the 1950s, to better align it with the rest of the meticulously restored course.

Moraine's iconic rolling fairways, captivating sightlines, and challenging greens have beckoned golfers for over 80 years. This extensive renovation not only accentuates these magnificent features but also reinstates them for generations of golfers to come.