The Buckeye Golf Trail: 10 Courses. 189 Holes. 40 Miles of Fairways.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to surmise that Ohioans or “Buckeyes” have as much passion for the game of golf as they do for their scarlet and gray collegiate athletic teams. The names of gridiron greats Archie Griffin and Eddie George can be countered by linksmen such as Jack Nicklaus and John Cook. After all, what better way to dot the “i” in Script Ohio than with a golf ball?
A little more than a year ago, the Buckeye Golf Trail was created not only to promote and feature the state of Ohio as a premier golf destination full of affordable public courses but to celebrate the vast history of the game within the Buckeye State.
The trail consists of ten superior golf courses from Toledo to Columbus designed by notable architects including Brian Huntley, Hurdzan/Fry, and Arthur Hills. These courses represent just a sampling of the golf available in the state of Ohio.
As one of the top golf destinations in the country, Ohio is home to more than 700 golf courses including famous facilities such as Scioto, Inverness, Muirfield Village, and Firestone Country Club. The state has hosted multiple U.S. Open golf championships, annually welcomes two of the most prestigious PGA Tour golf tournaments that aren’t considered Major Championships, and was the birthplace of golf’s most decorated Major Champion to date (Nicklaus).
Throughout the Buckeye Golf Trail, you’ll be treated to dozens of distinct characteristics that combine to create a one-of-a-kind golf experience.
Many facilities are dedicated strictly to golf, with no development as far as the eye can see. Others shine as the centerpiece of master-planned communities. Many are rated as top places to play by the nation’s leading golf publications. Golfers who travel the trail will find lakefront gems, British Isle tributes, and home-grown classics.
Below is a brief synopsis of each course on the Buckeye Golf Trail:
1. Clover Valley Golf Club
8644 Johnstown Alexandria Rd, 43031-9338; (740) 966-5533
A homegrown golf course in Johnstown that was built by three former club members who had owned the 200 acres the golf courses now occupies for 30 years.
You won’t find development anywhere on the course. Water is present in the form of ponds and streams on 14 of the 18 holes, but doesn’t factor greatly into your round as there are few forced carries.
Fairways and greens are G-2 Bentgrass, which is the same surface used at historic Pinehurst. This region is the only part of Ohio where this grass is found.
2. Cooks Creek
16405 US-23, South Bloomfield, Ohio 43103; 740-983-3636
Other than Jack Nicklaus’ character, the course’s architect, John Cook, is the greatest Buckeye golfer of all time. Cook was Ohio State’s first three-time All-American. He won the 1978 U.S. Amateur and recorded 11 victories during his career on the PGA Tour.
The golf course is rated 4.5 stars by Golf Digest. Cook co-designed the course with renowned Ohio-based architects Dr. Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry, but the inspiration came from the Cook family.
Cook’s grandfather Bert farmed the land for many years, and his father Jim worked the land as well, and both were instrumental in turning it into one of Ohio’s premier “upscale” daily-fee courses. The facility is truly a classic country layout with no development around the golf course.
3. Deer Ridge Golf Club
900 Comfort Plaza Dr, Bellville, OH 44813-8821; 419-886-7090
A varied and picturesque track located between Columbus and Cleveland. The golf course was designed by Brian Huntley and was given a rating of 4 stars by Golf Digest.
Completed in 2000, the front nine is hilly and heavily treed with scenic approaches on each hole, while the back nine features a more rolling, undulating terrain.
4. Eagle Creek Golf Course
2406 New State Rd N, Norwalk, OH 44857; (419) 668-8535
Designed by acclaimed local architect Brian Huntley, Eagle Creek is a unique layout defined by distinctly different holes that feature lush fairways, white sand bunkers, wetlands, and woods. But it’s the course’s large Bent grass greens that have earned Eagle Creek such acclaim since it opened in 1995.
“We get nothing but praise,” said general manager Dave Weisenberger about his club’s greens.
Eagle Creek measures more than 6,600 yards from the back tees but features a number of different tee combinations that can take the yardage down to as low as 4,908 yards. The course rating from the gold (back) tees is 71.8 with a slope of 127.
Golf Digest, one of the nation’s most respected and trusted golf publications, has taken notice. The magazine rated Eagle Creek 4.5 out of 5 stars in 2008-09, an honor the course has held over the past four years. This rating and Eagle Creek’s reputation have put the par 71 courses on a short list of the best public-access facilities in the entire state of Ohio.
5. Eagle’s Landing
A favorite of golfers in the Toledo area, Brian Huntley’s lakefront design opened to rave reviews in June 1998 and has remained popular more than 10 years later. The golf course features eight eye-catching lakes, 70 bunkers, and large undulating greens and its location on the shores of Lake Erie places it close to many popular recreation areas.
6. Golf Club of Dublin
5805 Eiterman Rd, Dublin, OH 43016; (614) 792-3825
Located on the outskirts of Columbus and just down the road from Muirfield Village, the Golf Club of Dublin is an authentic experience that pays homage to British links courses.
The 18-hole, par 72 award-winning championship course, which was created by Hurdzan-Fry Golf Course Design, measures more than 7,000 yards from the tips and features lots of layered, sod-faced bunkers, deep and formidable fescue grass, and sprawling green complexes.
The Golf Club of Dublin is the only authentic links golf experience in the Midwest. The greens are huge, square-shaped, and move quite quickly. Fairways are wide enough for the recreational golfer and sufficiently bordered by bunkers and water hazards to present a challenge to the low-handicapper.
The 640-acre residential development of Ballantrae is centered on The Golf Club of Dublin. Our Tudor-style clubhouse and course layout set the tone for this distinctive neighborhood’s Irish flavor. After a round, stay around with friends and neighbors or drop by for a quick pint on the patio.
7. Red Hawk Run Golf Course
18441 US-224, Findlay, OH 45840; (419) 894-4653
The award-winning golf club was designed by Arthur Hills and Associates, one of the country’s most sought-after golf architects.
As the centerpiece of a golf course community, Red Hawk Run strives to create a comfortable yet challenging experience for the avid golfer. Nestled between rolling farmland and strands of mature hardwoods, the course also features three secluded ponds and a flowing creek to provide a quaint relaxing atmosphere.
Water hazards abound with the constant presence of the menacing Red Hawk and Eagle Lakes. Golfers will also need to navigate a creek on six of the 18 holes. Since its opening, Red Hawk Run has collected a variety of awards and accolades. In 2004, Golf magazine recognized Red Hawk as the 18th best golf course in the U.S. “Thrifty Fifty.” Golf Digest awarded the course a 4.5-star rating in 2002, 2004, and 2006.
8. River Greens Golf Course
22749 OH-751, West Lafayette, OH 43845; (740) 545-7817
Designed by Jack Kidwell, and first opened to the public as a nine-hole facility in 1966, River Greens now features 27 holes of golf and is one of the top public courses in Ohio. Golf Digest rated River Greens 4.5 stars in its “Places to Play” publication. The golf course is located in West Lafayette, Ohio.
The public was allowed access to the first nine in 1966 and the second nine in 1967. The River Course and The Greens Course, which make up the “original 18,” have a par of 72, a slope of 120, and a distance of 6600 yards from the blue tees. The designer was Jack Kidwell. The Pines Course’s third nine, which measures 3300 yards from the tips, was finished in 1994. There are three par 3 holes and three par 5 holes on this course, and each of the three nines has four sets of tees.
9. The Club at Tartan Fields
8070 Tartan Fields Dr, Dublin, OH 43017; (614) 792-0900
Originally slated to be an exclusive private club, the Arthur Hills creation has now been open to the masses for two summer golf seasons. Built in 1991, Tartan East now makes for an affordable public-access option in greater Columbus.
10. Windy Knoll Golf Club
500 Roscommon Dr, Springfield, OH 45503; (937) 390-8898
Windy Knoll Golf Club is built upon a patch of land that has bred well-documented success.
As a world-renowned horse farm, Windy Knoll was originally brought to life in the 1970s by champion thoroughbred breeder Howard B. Noonan. His vision was to bring the grandeur, beauty, and prestige of Kentucky’s successful horse breeding farms to Ohio.
The former horse farm that was home to Avatar, winner of the 1975 Belmont Stakes, Native Uproar, and other Derby-quality horses has now matured into a links-style layout that dares you to succeed with a bushed of risk-reward decisions.
Despite being one of the greenest golf courses in the Springfield area, architect Brian Huntley has masterfully preserved and integrated many of the characteristics of the original horse farm.
Among the acknowledgments to the equine history of Windy Knoll are the full-sized steel horse sculptures cast by Ohio’s Mike Smith, the several miles of black rail fencing, horseshoe tee markers, and original stable buildings that have been converted into the cart barn.
With a focus on the sport and the spirit that surrounds fine play, you’ll find amenities that add comfort and convenience to the game that is both rewarding and challenging.