With the amount of great public golf in the state of Kentucky, the choices around Louisville, KY are not what they are across the state. For a city the size of Louisville, one would expect a better collection of public golf. The private selection is very solid, headed first and foremost by Valhalla Golf club, site of the 2008 Ryder Cup.
When Heritage Hill Golf Club opened in August 2007, it was a breath of fresh air to the Louisville public golfing community. Designed by former Nicklaus Design associate Douglas Beach, Heritage Hill brought a much needed boost to the selection of upscale public courses in the city. About 18 miles south of the city proper, Heritage Hill is mostly golf with a sprinkle of development. Homes are completely absent in the front 9 and only start coming into play around hole 14. Thankfully, they are mostly out of the way.
The course starts out with a dogleg left par 5. Fairway is wide open and there’s not a lot of trouble until one gets about 50 yards from the green. Depending on how the wind’s blowing, one could probably reach in two if they hit two good shots.
Hole 2 is a downhill redan par 3. While I liked this hole, 11 is very similar. After a non-descript par 4 at number 3, the golfer comes to number 4, a mid-length par 5 with water along most of the left side. One can play driver and put the right-side bunkers into play, or take a fairway wood/hybrid and play the hole as a three-shot hole.
The next couple of holes are very good. Number 6 is a short par 4. The ideal shot is to the right side of the fairway, but by doing so, one must contend with eight bunkers. By playing it safer to the left, one will have a more difficult approach to an elevated green guarded by two bunkers in the front-right and one on the middle-left.
The next hole, the long par 3 7th, is the longest par 3 on the course. Make sure to get the distance right here, because a severe false front will reject any shots on the front of the green. Par is a great score here.
The front 9 ends on the 9th, a moderately long par 5. Bunkers guard the tee shot from both sides. The layup shot is guarded by bunkers of the left and a narrowing fairway on the right. The green guarded by bunkers on the left.
The back 9 begins with a reachable par 5. The fairway is wide open despite bunkers on each side. The second shot is where the fun begins. The layup area is wide open, but the path to the green is well protected with bunkers on both sides. Only a well-played, aerial shot has a chance of reaching the green in two. On the day we played, we had a 20-30 MPH wind to our back, so even I had the opportunity of reaching the green in two (which RARELY happens).
Hole 14 has a neat downhill tee shot, with the entire valley below. There is also the first view of the housing development, but luckily, the houses are not in play and are well away from the course. The 16th is another reachable par 5, assuming the lake to the right is avoided on the tee shot.
Heritage Hill Golf Club saves its best for last with holes 17 and 18. These two are easily the two best holes on the course. 17 is a mid-length, dogleg right par 4. One can try to cut the corner a bit, but the best play is to the left/middle side of the fairway. The second shot requires a carried mid/short iron over a creek. Pin position when I played was back behind the bunker guarding the green on the left, making the hold even harder.
18 is a great finisher. After climbing up the hill from 17 green to 18 tee, the entire hole is in front of the golfer. Playing 377 from the tips, a longer hitter could have a go at it with a bit of wind behind their back. Although water is on the left and bunkers are on the right, the fairway is very wide from 150 to 125. Playing it safe to the right side of the fairway will require the golfer to carry a bunker for the second shot, water still in play on the left.
I visited Heritage Hill Golf Club in early March 2009. It’s very tough to grade a course on conditioning so early in the season, especially this one where the Zoysia tees and fairways were still dormant. I will say that the greens were in very good shape for a course that’s only been open for about 20 months. They have installed fans where appropriate to keep necessary air flow on certain holes.
The staff was wonderful. They greeted me as soon as I arrived to the course to deliver my cart. The pro behind the desk was very nice as well. At the end, members were ready to clean clubs and take your cart back, if you wanted them to. I did not have an opportunity to test the grill out as I had to high tail it back to Cincinnati immediately following my round.
One disappointing note is the course is not realistically walkable. From tee to green, you could probably do it pretty easily. However, the distance between some holes is pretty great. Good luck walking from 17 green to 18 tee. I did not inquire if walking was permitted, but my guess is it’s probably frowned upon.
OINK Rating: 6