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Trumbull County, Ohio-- A Short Drive to Challenging Greens
By Bill Shelton

Located less than three hours from Michigan's southeast corner is Trumbull County, Ohio--home of our 25th president, William McKinley, as well as Clarence Darrow, famous attorney in the "monkey trial of 1925" in Tennessee; Harry Stevens, a concessionaire who introduced the "hot dog" to baseball at New York's Polo Grounds in 1894; and Alice Jones McMullin, who owned a farm--not a restaurant. Situated just south of the Ohio Turnpike on the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, Trumbull County is also home to the fourth-largest Amish population in the United States, the National Packard Museum, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, and 23 public golf courses.

Alice who?

In 1929 Alice Jones McMullin owned a farm in the rolling hills of northeast Ohio, a pitching wedge from the Pennsylvania state line. Her brother, Bill Jones, was a student at Cornell University. During a school break, he came home and told Alice about a game he saw in Ithaca, New York, called "golf." Since farming was not very productive at the time, Alice decided to build a golf course on the gently sloping farmland. With a small loan, she bought an adjacent farm, cleared the 150-acre tract and that strange game had found a new home. Three generations later, the McMullin family still operates the Yankee Run Golf Course in Brookville, Ohio. Her grandson Paul is the PGA professional and his brother Gary is the greens superintendent. Yankee Run is an excellently manicured 6,500-yard, par-72 layout over rolling hills with tree-lined fairways and contoured greens. With a four-star rating from Golf Digest, the course was recently voted 2001's "Golf Course of the Year" by the Ohio Golf Course Owners Association. Generating approximately 30,000 rounds per year, the course's riding carts are computer equipped with state-of-the-art Parview GPS technology. Advanced tee times can be scheduled at the friendly, fun, and challenging Yankee Run by calling (330) 448-8096.

The newest edition to public golf in Trumbull County has a familiar name to many Michigan golfers--Avalon Lakes. Built in the late 1960s, Avalon Lakes was often cited as one of America's best resort courses by golfing publications and attracted golfers from a four-state area. But, if you haven't played the course in the last two years, you have not played Avalon Lakes. The new 7,500-yard course, with accompanying clubhouse and practice area, may well earn national "Top-10 public course of the year" honors this year. This recognition will come as no surprise to course owner Ron Klingle, who is CEO and Chairman of the Board of Avalon Holdings Corporation. But Klingle, who personally participated in the renovation, has a larger goal for the spectacular tract, namely the U.S. Open. Acknowledging that may well be wishful thinking, he spared no expense in creating a venue that would capture the attention of the USGA and the PGA.

Step one was to hire a course architect of international acclaim. So Klingle hired Pete (and Alice) Dye to transform the relatively flat 6,800-yard original course into a spectator-friendly, championship layout. More than 300,000 yards of dirt were moved to create course undulation, lakes, and spectator viewing areas. Only 15 percent of the course was left in its original design following the two-year renovation. Five sets of tees, with slopes ranging from 142 to 117, provide a challenging but enjoyable test of golf regardless of handicap. The bluegrass rough, large greens, and numerous lakes combine to require maximum concentration to avoid the proverbial "train-wreck."

In addition to an outstanding golf course, a major championship also demands excellent practice facilities and Avalon Lakes will have no problem fulfilling that requirement. Klingle, a chemical engineer by profession, personally assumed that responsibility in designing a range with greens built to the same specification as course greens, a unique yardage measuring system, and a wind-compensating teeing configuration. A modern clubhouse, upscale restaurant, and spacious conference rooms complete the existing complex although there may be a new adjoining lodging facility in the future. Despite steep greens fees, Avalon Lakes is a "must" for those who really appreciate a first-class golfing experience. Since play is limited on the course, golfers should call (330) 856-8898 in advance for tee time availability. It is one of the best courses in the Midwest and the serious golfer will find the Pete Dye design well worth the drive to Warren, Ohio.

Adjacent to the course is the Avalon Inn and Resort, a traditional country inn, offering a variety of culinary and recreational opportunities. For the active guest, the Inn has an Olympic-sized pool, tennis, racquetball and volleyball courts, and modern exercise facilities. The Inn's saunas and jacuzzi provide a refreshing recovery after a day of activity. Two restaurants, the Tall Oaks, that features a progressive American cuisine and the informal Country Gardens, and the Red Horse Lounge, accommodate any appetite. The 144-room Inn offers a variety of packages for golfers and non-golfers. Across from the Avalon Inn and Resort is the Avalon South Golf Club, another public facility owned by the City of Warren. Built in 1929, the course features small greens and a length of 6,200 yards. The county's other 20 public courses offer a wide range of challenge and design at affordable rates.

The Giant Eagle Classic LPGA tournament, attracting the top women tour players, is held each July in Trumbull County. In its 12 years of existence there have been seven playoffs. The 2001 winner was Dorothy Delasin who also won the event last year. Delasin was the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 2000. Other former winners of the tournament, which had a $1 million purse this year, are Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniels, Betsy King, Michelle McGann and Se Ri Pak. The event returned to the private Squaw Creek Country Club near Youngstown this year after several years at the Avalon Lakes Golf Course. Over $2.5 million has been raised by the Classic for local children's and educational charities in the Mahoning Valley.

Trumbull County is an easy drive from Michigan and it is an excellent weekend destination for Michigan golfers and families. For information on golf and accommodations, contact the Trumbull County Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 672-9555. Fall is a great time to visit the area and enjoy golf in Trumbull County.

Sept./Oct. 2001 Issue Table of Content
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