The first golf course in the United States designed by Dr. Alister MacKenzie, the Meadow Club was founded in 1927 on a property known as the Bon Tempe Meadow, a short drive north of San Francisco. Appropriately named for its treeless landscape, MacKenzie and his partner Robert Hunter admired this property for its views of Mt. Tamalpais and the surrounding hills. They conceived a clever two loop routing, with a series of adjacent holes separated by naturalistic bunker shapes and culminating in creative green complexes with steep tilts and nasty pinable nodes.
While a stunning forest surrounds the Meadow Club, MacKenzie designed the layout to play as an inland links, much like the opening nine at Crystal Downs or his celebrated work on the Australian Sandbelt. As is often the case with old clubs, however, over the years the course changed as greens shrunk and the heavy planting of pines and redwoods diminished the authenticity and spacious strategy of the MacKenzie design. It was only after scouring the archives and studying old aerial images of their property, that the custodians of this cherished layout discovered just how neglectful they had been. MacKenzie expert Mike DeVries was engaged in 1999 to lead a restoration, which has, over subsequent years, removed many internal trees across the property and successfully brought the excellent MacKenzie greens and bunkers back to life. From one of the more badly deteriorated classics, the Meadow Club is now a true timepiece and a fantastic reminder of what makes Golden Age architecture so outstanding.
Highlight holes include the mid-length par five opener, the brilliantly angled 4th, which falls across a diagonal ridge, and a strong closing stretch notable for the driveable 16th, attractively bunkered 17th, and right bending 18th. The par three 11th is another peach of a hole; as is the narrow par four 9th. The star undoubtedly, however, are the green complexes, particularly the multileveled 3rd which was completely lost prior to the DeVries restoration but now an enduring signature of the MacKenzie design.
Without a single home on the site and some of the most pleasant golf views in northern California, Meadow Club is a wonderful place to golf and will continue to improve as further trees are removed from its interior.