Update March 2011: You might want to call this course before planning a trip around it. The owner is currently under investigation of committing fraud (via Cincinnati Enquirer) and my sources tell me the course is currently closed and under pad lock. It is currently receiving sealed bids to purchase the course. Let’s hope it sticks around!
Elks Run Golf Club in Batavia, OH is the only Greg Norman designed course in the midwest. They use this slogan in most of their advertising. I suppose like Nicklaus before him, Norman’s name on a course is supposed to attract people to it. It may work for some golfers, but not so much me.
Elks Run is a tale of two 9s. The front 9 is very open where as the back 9 is slightly more constricting. In years past, there would be extensive heather grass which made the course a beast and made for lots of lost balls and long rounds. The current owners have the heather tamed quite a bit, but for me (at least the last two times I played) it hasn’t necessarily resulted shorter rounds.
The course starts out with a fairly simple and short par 4 at 353 yards. The fairway is the widest on the course. There is the driving range to the left and some trees right. Aim for the left side of the fairway and you’ll get a good angle at the green.
The set of par 3s at Elks Run are split in two pairs. 2 (pictured) and 17 are both long par 3s (195 and 228 yards respectively) where as 8 and 12 are both dropshots. 2 is more uphill and its green is a bit more elevated than 17’s, so a long iron is likely required to reach the green. Difficult par for sure.
The par 5 3rd (517 yards) and 5th (550 yards) share a green and both are a good chance at birdie. 3 starts you out up the hill and goes downhill throughout the hole. A fairly wide fairway makes for a relatively easy tee shot. Players attempting to reach the green in two must deal with the water in front right of the green. The layup area is relatively wide open, although anything too far might bring the water into play. A green that slopes back/right to front/left makes for tricky putts.
Hole 7 (par 4, 363) is a very unique hole on a course that has a lot of similar holes (4,6,9,16 run together in my mind). The hole is pretty short, but has the tightest fairway on the course. The green is protected by a creek in front. Par is not a given.
The 156 yard par 3 8th certainly does not play 156 yards. This is the highest point on the course. This hole is the closest thing you’ll get to an island green without an island. Anything far, right, and too far left is death. Front used to be death, but with the grass cut much shorter now, there’s actually a chance to find your ball and get up and down. Greenside is a big pot punker that will collect all shots that come a bit too shallow. Tee shot from the tippy tips plays at least 2 clubs down hill. Check the wind, make a swing, and pray you hit the green.
The back 9 starts off with a downhill par 4 that can be tricky to navigate the first time through. There is more room to the right than you think, but the bunkers down the fairway can be out of sight for some players. I’m not sure of the bunkers’ purpose other than saving balls from rolling down the hill. The next hole, the par 4 11th (pictured above), is a drive through a chute of trees. Anything too far left is probably a hack back into the fairway and anything too far right will be in a creek. The green is protected by the same creek on the right, but there’s plenty of room to bail out on the left.
The par 3 12th is another drop shot par 3. There’s not as much elevation change or danger for missing the green as on 8. That being said the hole is in no way a gimmie either.
15 is a long par 5 that is a 3-shot par 5 for most players. The tee-shot is slightly downhill and has a pretty wide fairway. Favor the right side for a better angle to reach the green in two, but beware of the small creek that runs to the right. The layup narrows a bit and does run out just before the green where the creek intercepts the player again. Make sure to know the yardage on the approach as the green is quite long.
18 finishes with a forced carry that shouldn’t affect too many players. The hole doglegs slightly to the left. The green is protected by bunkers.
Elks Run has gone through a couple management and pro changes over the years. It’s a decent golf course, but I don’t think it’s deserving of top 10 Ohio rankings as some publications have given it. The clubhouse is far away from the parking lot, so expect to be greeted by staff delivering a cart to you. The range is a bit small, but workable. Clubhouse has a nice bar and lounge area to relax after the round.
Bottom Line: If you were coming to Cincinnati, I would probably recommend a handful courses over Elks Run. Probably in the 6-10 range of Cincy publics.
OINK Rating – 5