Travel: Ohio ranks sixth in U.S. with over 800 courses
by Art McCafferty
Ohio, sixth in the U.S. with 800+ courses, is starting to market their golf product more heavily in Michigan, which ranks third. Ohio golf destinations like Canton, Trumbull County, Shaker Golf, Dublin and Mansfield have appeared lately at the Michigan golf shows. They are obviously attracted to such a large market and want to entice Michigan golfers to visit them anytime, but particularly in early spring and late fall.
We recently visited three of these areas, Mansfield and Dublin, located to the west and northeast of Columbus respectively and Shaker Golf, which is north of Cincinnati.
At Mansfield, we met Kim Wiers of the Mansfield and Richland County CVB and course owner Mike Au, at the spectacular Deer Ridge. Deer Ridge is a combination of Michigan's St. Ives and Treetops Jones course put together in topographical beauty. It sits on a ridge overlooking Clear Fork Valley. It just opened this year and the word is getting out fast. Brian Huntley, who is known for his work at Big Horn Golf Course (site of the Skins game), The Golf Club of Georgia and the new Carrington Golf Course in Monroe, designed the course.
We also had the opportunity to play Pebble Creek GC in Lexington and found it to be a well-maintained course, featuring bent grass fairways and greens. It is a very nice and affordable course. Mansfield also features three other courses, Oaktree Golf Club, Twin Lakes Golf Course and Wooldridge Woods Golf in their marketing package. They are featuring a two-tier system for their package, starting at $102, which includes a night's lodging, 18 holes of golf with a cart and a $20 meal voucher. For further information contact them at their 800 number or pull up their web page. mansfieldtourism.org - 800-642-8282
Dublin, a small village of 681 in 1970 now has a population of 30,000 thanks to the development of Nicklaus's Muirfield Village, the I-70 beltway built around Columbus and Wendy's corporate headquarters. The Dublin area features nine golf courses and six lodging properties. While we did not get a chance to play all of the courses, we did stop by Indian Springs for nine, Golf Digest 4 Star Place to Play. We then played Oakhaven, a nicely manicured course just outside of Columbus on US 23 and Rolling Meadow, a fine course designed by David Savic. Other courses include Shamrock, Tanglewood, Safari, Flagstone and Mill Creek.
According to our hosts, Amy Weirick and Kim Huffman, representing the Dublin CVB, golf packages start at $75, which includes accommodations, breakfast, green fees, cart and guaranteed tee times. Oh yes, they have a very pleasant restaurant, named Oscar's, it was a very nice place to eat and kick back after our round. www.dublinvisit.com - 800-245-8387
Shaker Golf is more a corporation than a destination. Currently they represent three courses, Shaker Run, Walden Pond, Beavercreek Golf Club, all top of the line.
Shaker Run Golf Club, located in Lebanon, has some real bloodlines as it was cited as Ohio's #1 Rated Golf Course by Golfweek. It also got 4 1/2 stars from Golf Digest. Art Hills designed the first 18 and it opened in 1979. The third nine--"The Meadows"--was designed by Michael Hurdzan, also a national renowned architect. We played the Meadows and really enjoyed the challenge. For a new course it is in very nice shape. For those going there, you should schedule all 27 holes, they are terrific.
Walden Ponds Golf Club, located in Indian Springs is yet another very upscale course. It is part of a massive real estate project, and most likely will turn private some day. However, it is worth the trip. Opened 1997, it is another Michael Hurdzan gem. We particularly liked Walden Ponds, the 562-yard 4th hole and Hidden Pond, the par 3, 15th hole. It has a spectacular clubhouse encompassing an existing structure originally built in 1831.
Beavercreek Golf Club, located near the Dayton area, is a Fuzzy Zoeller Signature Course. As Fuzzy describes it, "The layout at Beavercreek Golf Club is a special one as it is woven into a tapestry of woodlands, meandering creeks, and dramatic topography which includes elevation changes of over 90 feet." They had a scramble going on at the time, so we could only ride the course, but it made such an impression on us that we wanted to go back. It was a very nice course.
In Middletown, we stayed at the Manchester Inn and Conference Center. They also put together golf packages. Built in 1922, it has been restored and thoughtfully brought into the 21st century. The rates are affordable and the experience well worth it.
Julie Wilson, of Shaker Golf is excited about their Shaker Golf Tour Challenge, which including playing all three courses. It is quite a troika. Generally the green fees run in the $70+ range. You can find all of this out by contacting Julie Wilson at: firstname.lastname@example.org - 800-721-0007
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