Attention to detail makes all the difference in this club in the midst of horse country
VERSAILLES, Kentucky – When preacher-turned-businessman Randy Clay and his wife Sue turned their church software business Suran (short for Sue and Randy) over to their son Alex to pursue some of life’s other interests, there was little doubt that the couple would have more success.
Randy’s next order of business was to make The Woodford Club – a golf course he had just purchased – profitable. Sometimes that goal is not easily done in the golf industry.
When I first met Randy in 2020, his vision was to make The Woodford Club a totally private club. However, with 26 courses within a 20-mile radius of Versailles, KY, it would not be an easy task. These days The Woodford Club is a semi-private facility with a lot to offer those who seek membership. There’s a beautiful swimming pool, tennis and pickleball courts, fishing, and a full-service restaurant.
But the biggest draw to the club is the 18-hole, par 71 championship golf course that is always well-groomed and challenging.
Clay is determined to take his golf product to the next level and earlier this year hired Bob Baldassari, a longtime member of the PGA and founder of Reimagine Golf, whose expertise in player development will help bring about the next generation of young golfers and potential members to The Woodford Club.
The golf course originally opened in 1967 as Woodford Hills Country Club. A few years later it was sold and became known as Moss Hill Golf Course. Kentucky Golf Hall of Famer Buck Blakenship designed and built the golf course which is set amid the rolling pastures of thoroughbred horse country just outside Versailles.
The Woodford Club hosted the Women’s Kentucky Senior State Amateur Tournament in 2020 and 2021. Aside from golf, the Club has a couple of things going for it. For starters, it’s situated in the middle of the Horse Capital of the World. Second, it’s right on the Bourbon Trail.
This tight, parkland-style course features narrow, tree-lined fairways carpeted in plush Zoysia grass leading to lush Bentgrass greens that roll true and at just the right speeds. With deceptive angles and constant, sometimes subtle, elevation changes which lead to a number of blind tee shots, both off the tee and in the fairway.
Many of the greens are guarded by bunkers although sometimes the elevation changes around the green complexes are simply enough.
The Woodford Club may not be the longest course in the area, but what it will provide you with is a challenge and the need to think your way around the layout. From the back (Blue) tees the course plays 6,119 yards to a par of 71 with a course rating of 70.1 and a slope of 129.
Move up a set to the Whites and the yardage drops to slightly less than 5,900 yards however the course rating drops only slightly to 69.2 with a slope of 126. Two other sets of tees, the Gold (5,331/66.0/117) and the Red (4,870/68.3/113) provide yardages and challenges that will make the round exciting and memorable for all levels of golfers.
The holes I seem to remember the most from my last visit to The Woodford Club are the par 3s – they play long and challenging. There is one on the front side and three on the back. The first, No. 2, is 184 yards from the Blue Tees and plays slightly uphill with trees that dot the landscape from tee to green. Pay particular attention to the two trees on the right side near the green. A tee shot slightly offline can easily find one of them or the bunker. Either one presents a tricky up-and-down.
No. 11 is a pretty straightforward, 180-yard par 3 into a small green with trees back left and bunkers on the right side. The green is a lot deeper than it is wide and can easily be a one or two-club difference depending on pin placement.
The 13th hole plays 168 yards from the Blue Tees and is one of the few water holes on the golf course. Your tee shot is all carry over water into a green less than 20 yards deep with a large tree on the right. Par is a good score here.
The final par 3, No. 15, plays at 174 yards. With a small pot bunker directly in the middle of the front of the green, most golfers will need to carry their tee shot onto the putting surface in order to have a fair shot at par or better.
During our round, I spoke with a number of members and regular players at The Woodford Club about the golf course. All mentioned how much they like the golf course as well as all of the changes Clay and his staff have made.
They also unanimously decided that the 14th hole was the most challenging. This 434-yard par 4 requires (at least) two well-struck shots to get on – or in close proximity to – the green. It’s a gentle dogleg right with a fairway that slopes right to left. The length is what stigmatizes most players because there are no bunkers or greenside hazards. The green is long and narrow and can easily be a two-club difference between a front and back pin placement. It’s not hard to see why it is considered the toughest hole on the golf course.
The Woodford Club also has a full-length driving range just beyond the clubhouse where you can hit all of the clubs in your bag. Multiple targets give you something to shoot for. There’s also a short game area and a practice putting green will help you get the speed of the greens down before heading to the first tee.
The pool at The Woodford Club seems to be a family gathering place, especially on weekends. It’s open from Memorial Day to just after Labor Day, weather permitting. There’s also a baby pool and an active youth swim team. The outdoor Conch Bar is a great place to grab a bite to eat, drink, and catch the game on TV with friends.
If you’re looking for a more substantial meal, the Jack Jouett Tavern offers some of the best cuisine in Woodford County. The Tavern gets its name from an American farmer and politician best known for his “all night ride” in which he rescued Governor Thomas Jefferson from British capture. It really says a lot when non-golfers are filling the dining room.