The 11th hole at Bellerive Country Club. Bellerive began as a nine-hole course in a different location in north St. Louis in 1897. Photo courtesy of the PGA of America
Carlos Arraya, CGCS, has a key admirer in his corner.
Rees Jones, son of the man who designed Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, is thrilled that Arraya is the caretaker of his father’s work. Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s design opened in 1960, and his son rebuilt it — and completed multiple renovations — with co-designer Bryce Swanson in 2007. Their work will be on display worldwide this month, when Bellerive hosts the PGA Championship Aug. 9-12.
Jones was careful to maintain the style and integrity of his father’s efforts. He has seen Arraya — Bellerive’s director of grounds and agronomy — at work, and says he couldn’t be more pleased with the view. “From my observations, Carlos has the background and the people skills. It is valuable that he has been a general manager and knows the agronomy side,” Jones says. “I think he has both skills down pat.”
Bellerive has hosted numerous large events, including the 1965 U.S. Open, won by Gary Player, and the 1992 PGA Championship, which was won by Nick Price. Most recently, Bellerive hosted the 2013 Senior PGA Championship.
If you haven’t seen it in a while or need a refresher, Bellerive has zoysia tees and fairways, Penn A-4 bentgrass greens, and tall fescue rough. The par-70 will play at more than 7,300 yards. Some of the renovation work included repositioning and rebuilding all fairway and greenside bunkers, removing trees, and adding chipping and collection areas. On the par-4 18th, which plays more than 450 yards, missing the fairway creates a difficult second shot into the green.
Storylines abound at Bellerive. Defending champion Justin Thomas is the son and grandson of PGA club professionals. Jordan Spieth will complete the career grand slam if he wins. And this is the 100th PGA Championship and the last one to be held in August, as the event will be moving to May in 2019.
“I’m honored to be part of it, to be the last PGA that will anchor the majors,” says Arraya, who is hosting his first major. “It is special for me and our staff to say we hosted No. 100. Nobody else will be able to say that.”
Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.