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GCO GOLF TRIPS

golf oglebay on golf trips at golf cleveland ohio . com 

While there is some great golf in the Cleveland area, many Clevelanders want to get away for a weekend and play golf somewhere special. Here, we will try to offer some golf destinations that are less that a five hours from Cleveland. These courses are open to the public and are truly worth the drive. You could drive home after playing but these courses are worth a weekend stay.  We may not describe them in as full detail as the local courses, but suffice it to say, these courses are everything you can want in a golf course. We only wish the were closer. 

 

 

For expanded golf destinations all around the Great Lakes region, visit:great lakes golf trail

BENT TREE :  (740) 965-5140  Located just a few minutes north of Columbus, right off I-71 in Sunbury, about a 1.7 hour drive from Cleveland. A par 72 championship course which is set in surprisingly rolling terrain in the pan flat north Columbus suburbs. This fine course has a wonderful country club look and feel while having all the modern design features you would want. It is not some flashy over the top resort course but the sort of course you could play every day. The flow of the course from hole to hole is seamless and you never see the same look twice. Architect Dennis Griffiths expertly laid this course out in 1988 over the property where he had less than 150 acres to work with. The mounding, routing and hazard usage all lend a sense of separation between holes and it seems the place is much larger than it really is. No housing here, just pure unobstructed golf. A great course for the driver where just about every tee box has something to look at and think about before you launch one. There is plenty of trouble on the course but it plays very fair and often wayward tee shots have hope of recovery. Beware of the elevated green on the par four 9th where your approach is from the lowest part of the course to an unprotected green on a ridge. Only as your ball gets knocked straight down into the deep fronting bunkers will you realize how strong the wind is blowing across the green. The test of the round comes at the par five 16th where your tee shot must carry the corner of a water hazard while squeezing between the trees on the left and a dangerous bunker on the right. The green in definitely a red light so make a solid layup on your second which is also not so easy with water all down the left. Yardage of 6642 | 6239 | 5763 | 5110 and slope of 122 | 119 | 116 | 113. Images: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 12 15tee 15green 16 17 GCO Rating 90  

 

BLACK DIAMOND :  (330) 674-6110  Located just a few miles south of Millersburg, Ohio on Rt. 83.  About a 1.5 hour drive from Cleveland using I-71 and Rt. 83.  Set in the serious foothills of Amish country, draped with curtains of dense trees and rock outcroppings, this incredible, par 72, championship course by Columbus architect Barry Serafin will stun you with the scenery and boggle your golf intellect. If you prefer courses where the holes are straightforward and the greens are fairly level, this is not for you. This course requires strategy, shotmaking, and a great short game. While not listed as a long course, it plays far tougher than its length. You still need to hit your driver here, although you might consider leaving it in the bag for two to four holes, depending on how you are hitting it that day. There is no other course quit like this in Ohio. Just the view from the clubhouse overlooking holes one, nine and ten is worth the drive alone.  While there won't be any professional tournaments here, the serious and recreational golfer will appreciate, and sometimes curse,  this wild layout. The front nine is characterized by fairways that are more forgiving and shorter than the back side but the heavily undulated greens require shot making to the correct pin position if you ever hope to score well. The back side is reversed. While Serafin tamed the back side greens, he requires you to be very good off of the tee to have a chance. Some of the tee shots, particularly the daunting par four 12th, are simply terrifying at first look. Water to be carried from the tee, water all down the left side, a mountain on your right and 419 yards of a thin ribbon of a fairway disappearing around a rise. However, this hole, like most holes, gives you more than can be seen. You really really need to play this one more than once and you will learn that it is far more playable than it appears. In fact, it's a blast to play. All lament the fact that there is no pin sheet nor yardage book. This course does seem to favor someone who can play a power fade off the tee. Higher handicappers will struggle a bit more due to the numerous carries and shot making requirements, but the four sets of tees helps ease their pain. While every hole sports something different, the most unusual hole is certainly the 650 yard par 6. Some speculate that a par 6 is sort of gimmicky but we found it nicely designed to give you a deserved chance at a really good number. The second shot is the key since the fairways narrows inside of 150 yards and trying to stuff a three wood close the green brings hazards and a bunker into play. There is no way to walk this course and even cart path only is a struggle. Dollar for dollar, this course is perhaps one of the best bargains in the Midwest with unbelievable twilight and replay rates. Nice range and practice facility. Yardage of 6462 | 5880 | 5205 | 4689 and slope of 130 | 124 | 122 | 118. Images:1 2 4tee 4green 6tee 6green 7sign 7tee 8 9tee 9green  10tee 10green 11 12 12green 13 15 16 18       GCO Rating 92    

 

BLACKTHORN :  (219) 232-GOLF  Located in South Bend Indiana.   About 3.7 hours from Cleveland Hopkins Airport using I-90/80 turnpikes west towards Chicago, and only two minutes from the toll booth exit. Designed by Dr. Michael Hurdzan, this course gets rave reviews, a 4 1/2 star course according to Golf Digest. A fantastic course routed through glacially sculpted terrain. Lots of elevation changes and heavy woods mixed in with a few great linksy prairie-type and superb conditions. Alternate routes to the greens and split fairways which unfolded into stunning green views. The par fives here are some of the best in the entire mid-west and worth the trip alone, especially the signature 15th hole.Great first hole and each nine ends with a beautiful but dangerous hole requiring several well placed shots.  They even have a great par four practice hole called the "Blarney Hole," a cool storm shelter rehabbed from a cow barn that you drive your cart right through, and GPS on the carts. Great replay value and discounted twilight rates.  Four sets of tees. Yardage of 7136 | 6551 | 5961 | 5181 and slope of 135 | 129 | 121 | 120. Images: 2 7 8 9 10 15 16 17  18 blarney-hole       GCO Rating 92    

 

BUCKS RUN :  (989) 773-6830  Located in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.   About 4.4 hours from Cleveland. Designed by Michigan architect Jerry Mathews, this course exemplifies how a reclaimed quarry can turn into a first class golf course.  Many mild elevation changes and great riverside holes with marshes.  But the 34-acre quarry is the center piece of the entire complex.  The quarry is completely filled in and has turned into a beautiful deep lake with five gorgeous holes playing all the way around it.  The veranda of the clubhouse offers one of the nicest clubhouse views you will ever find.  You will come away with the sense that this course has a wonderful natural feel natural despite the incorporation of a massive man made quarry.  It also gets high points for its uniqueness and great conditioning.  Many serious undulations on these greens force you to be aware of pin positions.  A fascinating par 54 putt-putt course with true conditions is recommended if you have the spare time. The Indian casino Soaring Eagle as well as another great golf course, Pohlcat, are both down the road from Bucks Run. Those seeking a combination of gambling and golf will really enjoy this destination. Four sets of tees.  Yardage of 6756 | 6270 | 5920 | 5090 and slope of 132 | 128 | 123 | 121. Images: 8 9 12 13 14 16       GCO Rating 91    

 

COOKS CREEK :  (800) 430-GOLF  Located just south of Columbus, about 2.3 hours from Cleveland.  This par 72, Michael Hurdzan design, with consultation with PGA pro John Cook, is fun and relatively well priced. Opening in 1993, it has been awarded 4 stars according to Golf Digest. While in the middle of farmland America, it has a surprising amount of elevation changes. There was a surprising amount of wooded areas as well as some great river views. The course is also an Audubon Sanctuary. Of the few flatter, low land holes, there are constant and interesting water hazards, but the water locations are fair. Awesome par 5s with great and varied par 3s. Yardage of 7071 | 6648 | 6182 | 5095 and slopes of 131 | 128 | 122. Five sets of tees. Images: 1 5 7 9 10 15 16 18       GCO Rating 88    

 

COYOTE PRESERVE :  (810) 714-3206 Located in Fenton Michigan, just north of the Rt.23 and I-96 interchange, about three hours from the western suburbs of Cleveland.   This is an awesome 18 hole par 71 championship Arnold Palmer signature golf course.  Currently the holes are miss-numbered with golfers starting on hole 10 instead of hole 1. As it is now, and probably into the future, you start with a par 4 and we will call it hole 1 here.  The side which starts with a par 5 is hole 10.  Arnold starts you off easy enough with a gentle and flat par four with several bunkers framing the fairway.  Hole two begins to get interesting and by the time you are at the difficult pedestal par 3 third hole, you get the idea of what is to come. From there on out, you will go over and around deep ravines, up and down ridges and hills, navigate cavernous and punishing pot bunkers, and land soft wedges over think marshes into heavily undulating greens surrounded by large boulders.  Like Arnold played the game, you have numerous opportunities to be aggressive and play the hero. When you finish your round, you may curse Mr. Palmer for his unusually difficult designs but we are certain you will  thank the golf gods for this golf course. Every hole following the 4th could be a signature at any other course.  Yardages: 6912 | 6580 | 6123 | 5563 | 4851. Slopes: unknown | 132 | 129 | 125 | 120. Images: 5 7tee 7green 8 9 18        GCO Rating 91     

 

CRANBERRY HIGHLANDS : (724) 776-7372 Located just north west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, off of the Pennsylvania turnpike.  About a 1 hour 45 minute drive from the I-77 and I-80 interchange.  This designed by W.R. Love opened in 2002 and spans the tops of hills overlooking the hill country typical of the Greater Pittsburgh area. A fantastic designs that makes the course enjoyably playable even with all the elevations. This affordable course is owned by the City of Cranberry and should be the model for all municipalities. Even though it is only a par 70 with five par 3s and three par 5s, you have championship layout that is challenging for all levels of play. Most holes border each other but are separated by mounding and plenty of tall grasses giving the course a linksy feel.  But a true links course it is not. While there are plenty of bunkers which are artfully positioned, none are pot bunkers like a true links course.  Further unlike a links course are the greens. Here they are pedestalled, hanging and well protected, requiring many exciting soft high shots, especially to the back pins. There really aren't many trees on the actually holes that come into play but they are on the fringe of the course giving it a nice natural feel devoid of housing. Since the course occupies much "highland" of the Pennsylvania hills, wind can be a big factor at the highest part of the course. Pin position is very key here since the undulations of the greens are often significant. Yardages: 6444 | 6021 | 5497 | 4769. Slopes: 130 | 127 | 117 | 110. Images: 1 3 4 5 6 11 12 13 15 16   17       GCO Rating 89

 

EAGLE STICKS :  (800) 782-4493  Located in Zanesville, Ohio,  About 2.4 hours from Cleveland.  About as mountainous as you get in Ohio. Lots of elevation changes, great conditions and extremely scenic. Only a par 70 but you would never know it.  One of the very best courses in all of Ohio both from a design perspective as well as the aesthetic. This Michael Hurdzan masterpiece has beautiful panoramic views, and a cool variety of different type holes. Stunning natural beauty unfolds before your eyes as each fairway invites you toward the green. The finishing holes on the back and front are perhaps the most awe inspiring in all of Ohio. Tee shots are launched from high atop a bluff overlooking the meandering fairways below where pot bunkers and rock outcroppings await you. Very good price for this type of quality and many great bargains are available.  Not much else in Zanesville to talk about though. Four sets of tees. Yardages 6508 | 6124 | 5493 | 4233 and slope of 120 | 117 | 108 | 96. Images: 1 3 7 8 9&18 10 11 12 13 16       GCO Rating 92

 

FIELDSTONE :  (248) 370-9354  Located in Auburn Hill, Michigan, across the freeway from the Palace where the Detroit Pistons play. About 20 minutes from Detroit and 3 hours from Cleveland. Opened in 1998. Will be great to play in 1999 and on. 18 championship holes designed by Arthur Hills.       GCO Rating 87

 

THE GRANDE :  (517) 768-9494.  Located on the south east side of Jackson, Michigan, the Grande is only about a 3 hour drive from Cleveland. This par 72, 18 hole championship course by Ray Hearn has quickly become a favorite nationwide since its opening in 2001.  Huge fast greens with tons of undulations.  Check your pin sheet because there are 8 pin positions on these greens. A spectacular layout with unique holes, especially the par 5s.  This course can be very tough and then you must contend with the difficult and protected greens. Several greens are over 45 yards in depth.  Plenty of risk reward shots and abounding strategic decisions. Nice moderate elevation changes accented by oak leaf style bunkers. Yardages 7181 | 6820 | 6428 | 5907 | 4963 and slope of 147 | 142 | 132 | 119 | 114. Images: 1 4 6 8 12 16 18       GCO Rating 90

 

HAWK HOLLOW :  (517) 641-4295  Located in Bath outside of East Lansing, Michigan, about 3.5 hours from Cleveland. (517) 641-4295. 27 championship holes designed by Jerry Mathews. The first 18 consists of a modern layout. The final nine is like some futuristic course with extreme contouring, canyons and sculpting. Its like something from Mars. Several holes are so surrounded by water and hazards that if you miss the fairway, its gone. If your ball flies the hazard to the adjacent hole, forget it. There is no way to reach it.     GCO Rating 88

 

HUNTERS POINTE : (905) 714-4659  Located in the Niagara Falls resort area of Canada, about four hours from Cleveland. Par 72 eighteen hole championship modern links style golf course from Graham Cooke & Associates. If you are looking for a truly different golf experience, this is it. You cannot get closer to real links style than this. Heavy grassy rough, devious bunkering, blind shots, run-up shots, and incredibly firm greens. While the Niagara Falls area is very flat, this course was built upon excavation materials from the Niagara Falls bypass canal, giving it wonderful elevation changes. No trees and plenty of wind. You need to bring a solid ground and wind game here.  Forget trying to fly high wedges in.  A nice change from the Casinos. Yardage of 6884 | 6551 | 6207 | 5814 | 5319 and slopes of 131 | 125 | 119 | 129 | 119. Images:1 7 8 9 10      GCO Rating 90

 

LEGACY :   (734) 854-1101  Located north of Toledo, just across the Michigan border, convenient from the freeway, about 2 hours from Cleveland.  18 championship holes from Arthur Hills. This course opened in 1997 and is top notch. The course is growing in nicely, but needs a little more growing in as many of the small trees planted on the front nine need maturing. But conditions are awesome as is the layout.  One gets the feeling of playing tournament golf here. Built on flat farm land, Mr. Hills moved a lot of dirt to create definition and contours. The course has a linksy feel on the from nine turning into wooded and water holes on the back. Wind is always a factor as are the grassy hollows. There is a nice island green par three at hole number 8. The entire back nine makes for a fantastic finish which ends with a spectacular double lake par 4. The food in the Legacy restaurant was disappointing. Yardage of 6840 | 6326 | 6018 | 5485 | 4961 and slopes of 134 | 129 | 126 | 121 | 115. Images: 2 8 10 11 12 15 18       GCO Rating 87

 

LEGENDS ON THE NIAGARA (BATTLEFIELD COURSE) : (866) 465-3642  Par 72 championship resort style golf located in the Niagara Falls region of Canada, about a four hour ride from Cleveland. Designed by Canadian Doug Carrick on the grounds of the famous 1812 Battle of Chippawa where invading United States armed forces fought English and Canadian forces.  While the grounds are very flat, the course is a modern spectacle of links style golf.  The winds usually blows across the rolling expanses of waist high heather. You will need your wind shots. Huge greens and very wide fairways make for great resort play. Extensive contouring with splashy bunkers everywhere give you plenty to look at.  All the tees shots are exciting with many risk reward shots to consider. Eighteen is an incredible finishing hole with water coming into play on all three of your shots.  Yardage of 7309 | 6862 | 6271 | 5500 and slopes of 135 | 130 | 127 | 110. Images: 9 10 11 13 18      GCO Rating 90

 

LEGENDS ON THE NIAGARA (USSHER'S CREEK) : (866) 465-3642  Par 72 championship resort style golf located in the Niagara Falls region of Canada, about a four hour ride from Cleveland. Designed by Canadian Thomas McBoom, this course offers a little different look than its sister course Battlefield.  It has medium sized greens and ample fairways.  The terrain is slightly rolling compared to Battlefield and many holes are cut through mature forests with creeks. The bunkers are somewhat potted.  Top shelf stuff. Yardage of 7180 | 6754 | 6185 | 5421 and slopes of 134 | 130 | 125 | 110. Images: 5 6 8 9 12 13 14 17     GCO Rating 90

 

LONGABERGER :  (800) 430-GOLF  Located just east of Newark, Ohio, about 2.4 hours from Cleveland.  This Arthur Hills gem opened in 1999 and quickly became a favorite and may be the best in Ohio. Everything here at the basket king resort is top shelf; from the service, range, clubhouse, food and conditions to tee time spacing, vistas and the course layout. This golf paradise lies in a heavily wooded, very hilly and sparsely populated area of Ohio. Every hole is a postcard with wonderful elevation changes, and challenging risk reward options. It has an upper Michigan feel. While heavily wooded, Arthur Hills has allowed for ample landing areas for all levels of play. Make sure you get a yardage book. Tee times are very hard to come by and yes it is very expensive, over $110 per round with no discounted tee times. However, you will want to book the replay which is more than half off. It is well worth it then. Our only complaint is that there is not enough variety in the par 3s. Yardage of 7243 | 6856 | 6498 | 6075 | 4985 and slopes of 138 | 135 | 132 | 122. Five sets of tees. Images: 8 9 10 15 18      GCO Rating 93

 

THE MAJESTIC AT LAKE WALDEN :  (810) 632-5235 Located in Hartland Michigan, just north of Ann Arbor and west of Detroit, conveniently off of Rt. 23. 3.25 hours from Cleveland. Inspiring championship holes designed by Jerry Matthews which opened in 1994. This course makes you feel like there is nothing else in the world except golf. The course has over 18 miles of cart paths. No hole is near the next. Across plains, up into the hills, around lakes and marshes. It's like spending a day in a giant nature preserve completely isolated from civilization.  It is hard to find this much nature and elevation change in south east Michigan with a massive lake as the centerpiece of the course. The first two nines are considered the best, but we feel that to get the entire experience, you should play all 27 holes. On top of the outstanding topography, Matthews weaves another outstanding layout around Lake Majestic. A good assortment of tight and open holes, strategy and power holes. You begin and end with Prairie type holes bordered by tall grasses and punctuated by bunkers. But the mass of the course lies in the woods of Lake Walden where majestic pines frame your holes and the tees and greens are elevated.  There are two sneaky holes up there that should be noted. Hole 11, a par 4 which tees out into the woods, looks like driver might be the play, but it is not. Hidden from the tee, the fairway disappears on the left into a bog like depression where the fairway appears to narrow. Hole 13 seems like a shortish par 4 but it presents an optical illusion. The tee shot is uphill to terraced fairway running diagonally away from you.  Its easy to get lulled into hitting toward the green straight away and find yourself coming up short and you ball bounding down thirty feet into the schnitzel with no view of the green.  The best bet is to aim somewhat left of center and if you make the fairway, you will have a wedge or short iron in. The par 4 twenty-sixth hole appears to be a more daunting tee shot than it really is. A massive marsh must be carried, but in reality, the fairway is no problem and the green is reachable for the longest hitters. Full practice facility. Images: 2 4 5 6 9 10 11 12 14 15 18   GCO Rating 91

 

MAUMEE BAY :  (419) 836-9009  Located on the western side of Toledo, just under a one and a half hour drive from the Rt.83 exit and I-90 in Avon.  The best route there seems to be Rt. 2 through Sandusky.  This 1991 Arthur Hills creation is part of the Ohio State Park system and offers much more than just golf.  Maumee sports championship quality conditions from tee to green and is a fine attempt at an Irish Links style course.  While the underlying terrain is flat and there are virtually no trees, the course is mounded up to provide swales, hollows and bumps. Many semi-plateau greens which are made more difficult with sneaky undulations.  In addition, all holes are bordered by heavy tall grass and water comes into dangerous play on eleven holes. Keeping it out of the rough is very important if you want to score.  The bunkering is on the conservative side so don't expect to find ladders to get you in and out.  But by far the most dominate feature on this course is the wind which is always blowing.  Bring your ground and knock down game. When we played, it was foggy with a slight rain and very windy, perfect. The final finishing holes from 14 onward are just awesome and tough.  All in all, this is a unique and very enjoyable golfing experience which won't break your bank. Good warm up facility and range.  Four sets of tees. Yardage of 6941 | 6557 | 6136 | 5221. Slope of 129 | 126 | 122 | 118. Images: 3 7 14 16 17 18       GCO Rating 84

  

MOOSE RIDGE :  (248) 446-9030  Located on the far western side of Detroit, conveniently off of Rt. 23.  Only two hours and forty-five minute from the western Cleveland suburbs.  This is no par 71 Rocky and Bullwinkle course, despite the name. There are no actual moose here, but you can almost image there could be in the  heavily wooded ridges and marsh expanses. This 2001 Ray Hearn designed course features uniqueness in hole design and appearance.  From the very beginning you are inundated with naturally gorgeous hole after hole that often require thoughtful direction in you aim and club selection.  Well positioned tee shots can lead to scoring situations.Tee shots to less than optimal sections of the fairway may be safer but often lead to bogies.  It may take more than one crack at this course to figure out the wonderful nuances. Even from the forward tees, you are looking at a high slope rating. Five sets of tees. Yardage of 6892 | 6504 | 6100 | 5556 | 4919. Slope of 138 | 133 | 128 | 130 | 112. Images: 1 4 7 8 9 10 13 14 15 18   GCO Rating 92

 

NEW ALBANY LINKS :  (614) 855-8532 Located just north east of Columbus in New Albany, about two hours from Cleveland. Golf architect Barry Serafin takes his design skills to a links style course. Strategy abounds here with extensive and thoughtful bunkering which one needs to constantly negotiate. There is a fair amount of housing but the homes are sufficiently withdrawn from this premier design. Serafin moves a lot of dirt to provide additional strategy and aesthetics with very large fescue covered mounds surrounding wonderfully shaped fairways. The par 4 ninth looks like there is no room to hit your driver with the fairway running out into a large lake on the right. There is a sizable landing zone just behind the left fairway bunkers, so swing away. The opposite is true on the par 4 twelfth. It looks like you might be able to squeeze a drive into the landing zone but your best option is to play for the 150 stake.  Awaiting the long hitter is  water, a massive clam shaped bunker, narly grassy hollows and uneven lies. A decent lie is a must for this approach. Unlike a "classic" links like test, here you will also find plentiful ponds, dissecting greenside creeks and an unexpected number of holes with trees cover. Despite the liberties taken with the name "links" the course is unique and highly enjoyable and you will find the holes getting more beautiful and more sophisticated as you go through your round. Eighteen is a fine downhill finishing hole with a huge tree guarding the green from tee shots that have hung to far to the right. Full practice facilities. Yardage: 7004 | 6570 | 6228 | 5957 | 5551. Slope: 133 | 125 | 121 | n/a | 123. Images: 1 2 4 6 9 11 15 16 17 18 GCO Rating 87

 

NORTH STAR :  (740) 524-4653 Located just north of Columbus in Sudbury, minutes off I-71 and about an hour and forty minutes south of Cleveland Hopkins airport. Worth a stop if your in the area. This 2007 design is brought to you by the talents of John Cook. It has a modern design but somehow feels like something is missing, especially on the front side. Perhaps it is the lack of clear targets off the tee, the way distances seem optical illusions or  the way the super wide fairways present themselves against the stark non-descript background of farm lands. The resort style course is shot friendly and the bunkering does not present much of a challenge. The good sized greens are easily accessible. Besides the built in length and some interesting routing on longer holes, wind can play a major role since there is little to stop it from blowing over the north Columbus farms. At least for now when there is little housing. The early holes are solid but beginning with the par 3 eighth, a tough 235 yard from the tips over marshes, the course finally begins to reveal a quality of design and the terrain turns far more favorable. The back is characterized by holes routed through wooded elevations with steams, ponds and marsh expanses that must be negotiated. The final three holes are a great way to close out your round and will leave you with a good impression. There are several forced carries on this course where carry yardage and exit points are essential. Note the par 5 third and sixteenth, both very fine holes, but require exacting brave second shots if you intend to shorten the hole instead of lying up. Many approaches have been dumped in these hazards so be sure you have enough club. The signature finishing hole, a stunning par 4 flowing down and around a marsh expanse requires a directional accurate tee shot. The landing area from the tee appears far more inviting and wider than it really is. Even the best well struck drives can find the marsh which sneaks up the right side of the landing zone and balls tend to kick toward the marsh. Keep your final tee shot to the left of the bunkers and finish in style. Full practice facilities. Yardage: 7501 | 6743 | 6127 | 5519 | 5061. Slope: 134 | 128 | 122 | 117 | 110. Images: 1 3tee 3approach 4 5 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16approach 16green 17 18 GCO Rating 84

 

OGLEBAY PALMER COURSE :  (800) 752-9436 Located in Wheeling West Virginia, about a 2.9 hour drive from Cleveland, using I-77 and I-70, this classy resort sports a Palmer gem that is well worth the trip. This par 71 championship course has an unusual combination of five par 3s and five par 5s. A morning fog leaves a lot of moisture on the course everyday, keeping it in great shape, even in drought-like conditions. Opening in 2000, this American Links style course has holes bordered by tall grasses, dangerous drop offs, plenty of mature trees and greens accentuated by sculpted bunkers. While the resort lies in a mountainous region, the heavy elevation changes are carefully tamed by Arnold Palmer's signature touch, giving the course a great deal of playability. With tons of bunkers, waving fairways and tiered, sloped and fast greens, this course offers great challenges to those who dare. The high grasses will make you think twice about club selection. Numerous risk and reward options. This fantastic track is accompanied by awesome views, particularly the basin view, where from a height, you can simultaneously see six gorgeous holes. Oglebay also has an enjoyable and very tough Robert Trent Jones course which opened in 1970. The Jones course offers heavily wooded and hilly holes. Jones-1 Jones-6 Jones-9   Jones GCO Rating 79 . We do recommend the Jones course as an excellent way to warm up. There is also another shorter, non-descript Chrispin course which plays up and down the hills. At Oglebay, the Palmer course is the one you simply must play and play again. It seems the best rates are accompanied by an overnight package, but you do not need to stay at the resort to play the courses. All carts have GPS. Palmer yardages: 7001 | 6605 | 6046 | 5350 | 4659 Slopes: 137 | 129 | 126 | 117 | 110. Images: Palmer-1 Palmer-2 Palmer-3 Palmer-5 Palmer-11 Palmer-12 Palmer-13 Palmer-14&15 Palmer-16       GCO Rating 93

 

OLDE STONEWALL :  (724) 752-4653 Located in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, off of the PA Turnpike and about 1.45 hours from the I-77 / I-80 interchange.  With green fees of $135 and no discount times, you might ask, is a course in the middle mountainous pseudo-Appalachia worth it? Well, it is spectacular, but the green fee is hard to swallow. The layout rivals any course within  a days drive and aesthetically, it is probably one of the most beautiful course you will find in the Midwest. The owner did not bother to quarry 100 pound rocks, he opted to install thousands of two-ton limestone boulders around the club house, cart paths, tee boxes, water falls and some greens. On top of that, the club house resembles a medieval castle. Golf-wizes Hurdzan and Fry fashioned a mighty layout the takes you down through a forest valley to the river flats then up into the mountains and down again. Heavily contoured and bunkered, the course also sports wild grasses that will gobble up stray tee shots and twist hosels. While only a par 70, you will not notice it. We hate back to back par 3s but we did not mind them at holes 14 and 15. These par 3s are perhaps as beautiful and exciting as you will ever see. The course offers plenty opportunities to be brave, but will punishes those playing recklessly. Probably the only knock on this course is that the finishing hole is just a touch less spectacular than the rest of the course. Yes this price is too high, but if you want a rare golf experience that you can brag about to your friends for years, this is it. Yardage: 6977 | 6464 | 6002 | 5528 | 5051 Slopes: 140 | 136 | 129 | 132 | 123. Images: 1  3  4  5  8  9  12  13  13tee  14  15  16       GCO Rating 95

 

OLD SILO :  (877) 498-4697 Located in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, 20 minutes east of Lexington.  Yes, this is a long haul from Cleveland, about 5.3 total hours, but it was so good we had to list it here.  Plus, the price and golf packages for this course are very, very, very, reasonable.  This 2001 18 hole championship course is brought to us by golf professional Graham Marsh.  Thank you Mr. Marsh.  Right in the heart of horse farm country, this course offers everything a golfer can dream of. Excellent conditions, exciting greens and green complexes, devious bunkering, split fairways, breathtaking elevations, risk reward shots, and heavenly scenery. While fairways are for the most part generous, heavy rough and step ravines often swallow up poor tee shots.  The old silo on hole 16 is pretty cool too. Yardages: 6977 | 6485 | 6077 | 5509 Slopes: 139 | 134 | 130 | 125. Images: 1 3 6 6&16 7&17 9 12 15 18&10 18       GCO Rating 93  

 

THE ORCHARDS :  (810) 786-7200  Located in Washington, Michigan.  About 25 minutes north of Detroit and a total of 3.25 hours from Cleveland. 18 Championship holes designed by Rees Jones and voted in 1997 by Golf Digest to the top 75 you can play list. Stunning layout. A truly unique course which features joined fairways on 6 holes. Year in and year out, this is one of the top rated courses in the Greater Detroit area.       GCO Rating 90

     

QUAIL RIDGE :  (616) 676-2000 Located just east of Grand Rapids, this 1999 Ray Hearn gem is about 4.5 hours from Cleveland.  Laid out over a sprawling parcel of land full of marshes and good sized rolling hills. Decent price with championship conditions. Many varieties of holes with a special emphasis on the very interesting par 5s here.  Yardages: 6883 | 6500 | 6114 | 5453 | 4709  Slopes: 127 | 123 | 119 | 117 | 109. Images:  6 7 10   11 12 16        GCO Rating 88   

 

RED HAWK RUN :  (419) 894-4653 Located just east of Findlay, Ohio. Two hours west of Cleveland Hopkins Airport using I-80, then Rt. 4 south to Rt.224  west.  This 1999 farmland masterpiece from Arthur Hills harkens to Scottish links courses. You are driving along nondescript Ohio farmlands and boom, there is this course, surrounded by a barrier of mounds and high heather. For pan flat Ohio, this course sports wonderfully surprising, albeit mild, elevations changes which are sufficient to really make the course interesting. Mr. Hills has splendidly routed fairways which twist and turn in and out of sight. Many bunkers are steep sided with heavy grass which lend to the Scottish feel. You are often asked to challenge a corner bunker or sneak between others. With the course being mostly Spartan with trees and a little housing in the distance, your main competitor will likely be the wind and your own mind. This course requires careful deliberations on many tee shots as well as approaches over pesky creeks. Beware the par 5s as they can be confounding. Fortified and pedestalled greens will scoff at soft shots hit into a stiff wind leaving your ball in a difficult collection areas.  Being sort of out of the way also means many specials and a reasonable rate.  We really liked a unique yardage feature here.They place a black and white stake exactly 200 yards away from a large rock on the tee box.  From there, you can figure your needed carry from any tee. The rest of the course is also very well marked. Great grass range. Yardages : 7155 | 6768 | 6352 | 5635 | 4997. Slopes : 132 | 129 | 124 | 116 | 116. Images: 1 2 4 7 9 10 10green 11 13 14 15 16 17  18 18green      GCO Rating 91   

 

ROCK HOLLOW :  (765) 473-6100.  Located in Peru, Indiana, west of Ft. Wayne, and 4.5 hours from Cleveland.  18 Championship holes with many marshes and water hazards. Awesome conditions and an awesome 1994 layout brought to you by Tim Liddy. This is your prototypical modern course that offer many unique style holes. The majority of the course lies in a giant quarry that has been expertly utilized to yield nice elevation changes and boulders to accent the course. New highways makes this course accessible from the north using Indiana highway 31 and from the west utilizing Indiana highway 24, but it is still in the middle of no-where-land Indiana.  But being in the middle of no where equals a great price for this type of course for golfers making the trip. Golf Digest give this course 4 1/2 stars. Four sets of tees. Yardage of 6944 |  6463 |  5912 |  4967 and slope of 136 |  131 |  124 |  118. Images: 1 3  6 7 8 11 13 14 18       GCO Rating 91

 

ROYAL AMERICAN GOLF LINKS :  (765) 473-6100.  Par 72 located in Galena, just north of Columbus and about two hours from Cleveland.   A wonderful course just north of Columbus about ten minutes from the  I-71 exit in Sunbury. A good value with not a single weak hole plus it is easily walkable if you desire. The slope rating, even from the tips, is in the mid 120s so don't be shy about the length. The course is very fair and provides many opportunities to score if you can keep it in the fairway. No housing on the course but some crossing powerlines that slightly detract from an otherwise pleasing look. The underlying terrain is flat but when Michael Hurdzan applies his architectural magic, you receive a wonderful design though perhaps not as flashy as some of his other big named projects.  As the name implies, this is an American Links design and not really a true "links" course. The entire complex does not occupy a whole lot of acreage, but the design really makes the best of things. The generally ample and carefully undulated fairways are often bordered by marshy creeks and lots of wild grassy areas. There are also a good number of holes with thick trees cover and there is plenty water on this course. The bunkering gives nice definition to the layout without being to penal and as usual, Hurdzan's greens and greens complexes are outstanding. The third hole, a shortish par 4, can easily set you back a few holes. From the elevated tee it is visually intimidating because all you see is carry over a large lake to a tight fairway hemmed in by mature trees. There really is no place to miss so hit a precise hybrid or fairway wood here giving yourself enough club to carry the water.  The 5th hole is memorable for a nice effort at a bunker resembling the "church pews." The ninth hole is such a great hole it almost deserves to be the 18th. It is one of the four exciting par fives. It's initial landing area is rather wide but you need some depth because the real trouble is the second shot. A large lake occupies the left side of the fairway which  most be crossed at some point to approach the green.  You can shorten your approach if you deliver a solid fairway wood into the landing area which gets wider as it nears the green or lay up well short to but to a tighter fairway. Pick your poison. The 18th is an excellent finishing hole in its own right. The well designed  par 4 hole finishing hole requires a long tee shot to a fairly wide fairway or your looking at over 200 yards to a protected green. Perhaps that is not so bad, but thirty yards short of the green is a dissecting marsh which will put pressure on your long game. All things said, you will have a good time on this fine course which won't beat you up to much. Very good practice facilities and a beautiful clubhouse. Images: 1tee  1approach -2 3 4 6 7 8 9tee 9approach 9green  10  12 15approach 15green 17 18tee 18approach 18green     GCO Rating 86  

 

SHEPHERD'S HOLLOW :  (248) 922-0300.  Located in the north-west Detroit suburb of Clarkston, this 27 hole championship layout is two hours and forty-five minutes from the western Cleveland suburbs.Built on land that is leased from a large Jesuit monastery which sits concealed on the highest ground of the course, here, Arthur Hills has crafted another masterpiece. Tall pine forests, cool lakes and rolling ribbons of fairway punctuated by strategic bunkers define this course.  All three regulation par 36 nines are equally fantastic. The first 18 seems to be the most popular and strongest of the holes.  However, the third nine is perhaps the most scenic and fun with slightly more complex greens. Some say the third nine is slightly "tricked-up" but we found it every bit as good as the rest of the course and a great way the end the day.  If you play all 27, you will see an immense variety of holes. Strategic holes, power holes, penal holes, risk-reward holes, elevation holes, water holes and so forth.  You must play all 27 holes to have the complete experience. The price is a little steep because of the course's proximity to major metropolitan Detroit. However, the "holy" feeling you receive from these hallowed grounds is well worth the price.  Five sets of tees. Yardage of 6944 |  6463 |  5912 |  4967 and slope of 136 |  131 |  124 |  118. Images: 1 4 6 9 14 15 16 18 20 23 26       GCO Rating 93  

 

STONEHEDGE (NORTH COURSE) :  (616) 731-2300.  Located a few mile northwest from Battlecreek in Augusta, Michigan, about a 3.7 hour drive from Cleveland. There are actually five course that make up the Gull Lake View Resort, but the Stonehedge South and North Courses are the best.  The other courses are fine themselves, but a bit short. Great golf packages and sweet accommodations. The North course is perhaps the most fun of the resort courses. Great elevation changes and natural settings that remind you of a northern Michigan resort. The North course has more an American links feel with less tree cover, but plenty of tall grasses to gobble up and stray shots.  It also has the unusual combination of six par 4s, six par 3s and six par 5s.  Fantastic finishing hole. North Course: yardage of 6673 | 6210 | 5785 | 5097 and slope of 127 | 124 | 117 | 114. Images: 5 11 14 16 17  18       GCO Rating 87  

 

STONEHEDGE (SOUTH COURSE) :  (616) 731-2300.  Par 72 resort course across the street from the Stonehedge North Course. This gem is the toughest of all the Gull Lake View courses and perhaps the best, certainly the toughest. Great elevation changes, very heavy wood cover, and some tight fairways.  One of our crew actually scored a hole-in-one on the 16th hole in 2004.  The South course also sports many 3-foot high walls made entirely of small stones on the perimeter of many holes.  Hence the "stonehedge."  Yardage of 6656 | 6234 | 5775 | 5191 and slope of 133 | 130 | 124 | 120. Images: 4 7 9 11 16 17       GCO Rating 88  

 

STONE RIDGE :  (419) 353-2582.  A par 72 championship course in Bowling Green, about  1 hour and 40 minutes west of the I-480 / I-80 interchange,  just a few minutes west of I-75. While built on flat farm land, Arthur Hill moved a lot of ground to build this gem. Most holes are expertly framed by very large mounds, topped with club twisting heather grasses, which gently dissolve down into wide fairways.  There are homes on perhaps half the holes, but they are somewhat standoff-ish.  Very few holes have trees but there are six large lakes in this American-links style course. When the wind blows, as it usually does, you will need your wind shots here.Lightning quick medium-sized greens which are protected with classic Arthur Hill green complexes. Many greens are pedestalled requiring a extra club in. Plenty of great holes, but 5, 9 and 14 are very memorable. The par four cape hole at 18 is as dangerous as a poisonous snake, give it plenty of latitude. Unlike your typical great new course going private, this private course actually went public. Yardage of 7064 | 6527 | 5983 | 5247 | 4993 and slope of 134 | 126 | 118 | 111 | 118. Images: 2 3 5 7 8 9 11 14 18     GCO Rating 86  

 

THORNAPPLE POINTE :  (616) 554-4747.  Located on the west side of Grand Rapids, this par 72, 18 hole championship course by William Newcomb is about a 4.25 hour drive from Cleveland. Not to be confused with Thornapple Creek in Kalamazoo. Often referred to, semi-affectionately, as plane-trains-and-automobiles because of an airport nearby, a train track running through the middle of the course and a highway visible from several holes. Don't let this moniker fool you.  This course is a wonderful mix of American links style holes bordered by tall grasses, several holes bordering a winding Thornapple River and rolling wooded hills. So much great scenery and fun here you won't notice the occasional airplane or train. Good rate and a good replay rate.  A great side trip if your in the Grand Rapids area to play Thousand Oaks or Pilgrim's Run.  This course is a blast to play. GPS on the carts. Many improvements made in 2003. Yardages 6821 | 6360 | 5788 | 5090 and slope of 133 | 123 | 113 | 116. Images: 5 13 16 17  18       GCO Rating 88

 

THOUSAND OAKS :  (616) 447-7750.  Located just northeast of Grand Rapids, this unbelievably beautiful course is a 4.5 hour drive from Cleveland. This 1999 Rees Jones masterpiece is like an unfolding art gallery, sporting a fantastic utilization of heavily wooded and hilly terrain that has been made into a very playable course. Many opportunities to be heroic and strategies abound. Virtually no water or lakes, but with all the hills, elevations, oaks and bunkers, you will be thankful the water is missing. This course has well deserved its high national acclaim and holds you mesmerized from hole one until the finish. This is the best course in the greater Grand Rapids area that sports several other top notch courses. Yardages 7128 | 6677 | 6137 | 5328. Images: 4 9 12 13 16       GCO Rating 91

 

TIMBER RIDGE :  (517) 339-8000  Located just outside of Lansing, Michigan, about 3.5 hours from Cleveland. Championship 18 holes with its primary features being tight and wooded fairways, marshes and elevation changes. A more traditional course though a relatively new course. While already a great course, improvements were made to the layout and greens in 2000.       GCO Rating 88

 

WHIRLPOOL :  (800) 563-4397.  Located near the Canadian Casinos of Niagara Falls, about four hours from Cleveland. Originally built in 1950 by the famous Stanley Thompson, architect of Cleveland's own Sleepy Hollow, this classic course remains extremely popular. It has undergone extensive renovations keeping conditions up to the expectations of the modern golfer.  Natural elevations, mature trees, modern bunkering and a traditional hole designs mesh with a country club feel. Yardages 7019 | 6701 | 6292 | 5702 | 5203 and slope of 126 | 123 | 119 | 115 | 109. Images: 2 5 9 16 18      GCO Rating 87

 

WINDING HOLLOW (Formerly Tartan East) :  (614) 855-8600.  Formerly a private country club now open to public play on the north east side of Columbus in New Albany. About two hours from Cleveland.  A great Arthur Hills design that incorporates the natural environment of plentiful trees, cool lakes and greenside creeks. Even though the underlying terrain has very modest elevations, it is unencumbered by housing. Then Arthur Hills takes the canvas and paints in his contoured fairways, signature bunkering and mini grassy hollows. He even utilized a little Pete Dye with some soft terraced fairways. The entire complex has a serious upscale feel with plentiful practice amenities. Watch out on the par 5 eighteenth because the fairways severely narrows with a lake on the right of the green at about 100 yards out making at an extremely difficult to get home in two. Best to lay up and use a sure wedge in. Yardages 6870 | 6370 | 5840 | 5510 | 4770 and slope of 138 | 132 | 126 | 116 | 128. Images: 1 2 4approach  4green   5  6  7  8  9  10  14  15  17  18approach 18green      GCO Rating 88

 

YARROW :  (800) 563-4397.  Located just north of Battle Creek and just a few miles from the Stonehedge courses, this Ray Hearn 2002 par 72 masterpiece requires a 3.7 hour drive from Cleveland. Jaw dropping holes on 300 acres of pure and original beauty. Lots of exciting elevation changes and plenty of thought needs to go into your tee shots.  Most tee shots require you to navigate a bunker, mound, wild spaces or carefully placed tree. The wind, the elevations, mature pine forests and the wild fescue, all factor in at some point. Thankfully, the fairways are somewhat wide and forgiving and you have plenty tee boxes to chose from.  The greens, like those at the Grande in Jackson, Michigan, are very large but very fast and difficult.  Many greens are hanging and being in the wrong spot of the green will surely yield a 3-putt. The opening par 5 will blow you away and get you into the proper mind set for the day.  The par four 14th contains another of Hearn's signature crazy holes with an expansive split fairway. Take some time to linger on the veranda over looking 18 following your round, it is very beautiful. Yardages 7005 | 6643 | 6243 | 5912 | 5097  and slope of 133 | 124 | 119 | 124 | 114. Images: 1 4 5 9 10 13 14 18       GCO Rating 92

 

 

  

 

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