The Tower Tee facility in St Louis, USA, which closed in 2018 to make way for a planned housing development, will reopen in spring 2022 as a nine-hole par-three course following a redesign by Art Schaupeter.
Steve Walkenbach and Mike Shamia purchased the site from the housing developer and have worked with Schaupeter to bring the facility back and give it a new lease of life.
Formerly an 18-hole par-three course, Tower Tee’s new design has used some of the original corridors, however, the layout is now nine holes with greens inspired by famous par threes such as the Redan, Biarritz, Eden, Postage Stamp and Golden Bell holes. This idea came when Schaupeter walked the property with Walkenbach and Shamia.
“Tower Tee’s holes measure out at a little over 800 yards, so it isn’t a long course,” said Schaupeter. “The longest two play at about 145 to 155 yards. I tried to replicate key aspects of the various holes, especially in the green surfaces. Otherwise, the holes will generally be shorter than their famous versions, and they might not have the full complement of bunkers.
“The entire facility will be very family oriented, and we expect a lot of kids and parents to be playing, so the fun factor took precedent over a pure replication of the holes. For instance, the Biarritz hole has the two-tiered green with the deep swale through the middle, but it doesn’t have the flanking bunkers. The Redan hole has the deep front-left bunker and plays just slightly uphill to the fronting plateau, but the back-right bunkers and the short cross bunker are not included.”
Local contractor Sellenriek Grading has almost completed construction of the golf course. Greens have Profile Porous Ceramics, the handful of small bunkers have liner from Better Billy Bunker, and a Les-Hill designed Hunter irrigation system has been installed. Schaupeter was also assisted on the project by course superintendent Kyle Moses.
“There is a lot of interesting and fun golf packed into about a twelve-acre area. I was able to take advantage of some of the more interesting site attributes to create these specific holes, which allows the individual character of the holes to really come out.”
The course will be walkable, playable in 90 minutes, and for many will only require a few clubs.
“One hole that is a personal highlight is the Golden Bell, which will be sufficiently challenging with its shallow green,” said Schaupeter. “It’s only about 70 yards long, so half the distance of the original, but only a couple of paces shallower on the green. I think players will get a fun sense of what it’s like to try and hit that target. We don’t have a creek in front, just a low hollow of deep rough, so at least the penalty stroke for hitting into the creek won’t be applied here.
“I also like my Postage Stamp hole. The juxtaposition of the Postage Stamp and the Golden Bell greens are what I like overall about the result. Their presentation and challenge are completely different. The green is very narrow, but relatively deep, while Golden Bell’s is very shallow and quite wide. Each hole has a distinct character from the rest, so it will be a very interesting and engaging nine holes to play, with no two holes being remotely similar.
“A lot of people that have toured the site also like the Dell hole. It will be a fully blind tee shot played over the top of a ridge to a green sitting in a narrow hollow. We’re mowing a band of fairway around the perimeter of the green to encourage balls that roll up on the slope to roll back down and funnel onto the green. We’ll also have the white rock positioned on the ridgetop so that players have an idea of where to aim each day.”
The Tower Tee facility also includes a nine-hole putting course, a driving range, 15,000-square-foot practice green and a two-acre short game area.
“The two greens at the short game practice area will provide every type of situational practice that a player would want within 30 to 35 yards from both fairway and rough lies,” said Schaupeter. “I’ve also created an adjacent chipping range with two sets of small targets positioned on exact yardages so players can work on swing mechanics and swing lengths to dial in a precise feel for various distances from 15 to 75 yards.
“The practice range can accommodate over 50 players at one time on the turf hitting stations as well as an additional 20 on the grass tee. It has a full complement of target greens and a 30 to 35-yard-wide fairway cut in the middle, so it will be a complete upgrade from the original version which only had a few poles out in an undefined field. This will give the players much more feedback on their practice, which is the key thing that you need when practicing, so I think that will make the range very popular with players in the area.”
This is an extended version of an article that appeared in the October 2021 issue of Golf Course Architecture. For a printed subscription or free digital edition, please visit our subscriptions page.