May 2017 Disclaimer: It appears the final nail in the Old Silo coffin has been hammered in. The course is now closed. Enjoy this post for the memories.
Disclaimer: My review of Old Silo is my reflection of the course as it was in September 2005. Unfortunately, things have gone very downhill for this course. You can see a 2016 update here: http://onebeardedgolfer.com/2016/04/17/requiem-for-a-heavyweight-of-kentucky-public-golf-courses-the-fall-of-old-silo/
Old Silo Golf Club in Mt. Sterling, KY is the first North American design by Graham Marsh (who would go on to design the well-acclaimed Sutton Bay). Located next to I-64, the course is about a half-hour from Lexington, KY. So it’s not in the most densely populated of areas, but the same could be said about a lot of Kentucky’s best public golf courses. Only a couple of holes are adjacent to the highway, and they do a pretty good job of disguising it.
Old Silo is very much a cart-only course, those the first two holes wouldn’t tell you that. The par 5 1st gives the player a first glance at the artistic bunkering style at Old Silo.
The 2nd hole is an odd place in the round for a short par 4, and really the only hole like it on the course. There’s trouble left and right in the landing zone, and the green slopes sharply downhill off the back. Need to be mindful of your shots here. The reward isn’t quite worth the risk for me.
After hole 2, you realize why you need a cart. A long and hilly cart-ride up to the par 4 third won’t be your only cart-ride of the day. Also, you realize you go up and down the valley a few times; you’ll be thankful for the cart.
Hole 6 is the “signature” at Old Silo. And yes, like every other elevated tee I’ve reviewed (see Boulder Creek and Paa-Ko Ridge), I implore you to hit one from the tips. The hole drops 80ft from tee to fairway, then rises again to the green. There are bunkers left and right in the driving zone, left sharing a bunker complex with 16.
If you lost your confidence over the front 9, hole 10 is a good place to get it back. The hole is downhill and when I played, downwind (which enabled a rare 300 yard drive from me). The hole is protected by a bunch of bunkers in different driving zones, but overall the hole is pretty easy.
I didn’t want to mention hole 15, but I think I have to just because, in my humble opinion, this hole keeps Old Silo from being an 8 on the OINK scale. It’s a mid-length par 4. Most players are forced to layup to around 170 yards or so, lest they want to deal with the sharp drop off. The hole reminds me a bit of the controversial 12th at Shaker Run (3 Woodlands); but at least on that hole, the green slopes back to front and is a large target. This green is small and protected by bunkers left and right. The hole just seems out of place with everything else before and after it.
16 is the only hole where the “Old Silo” actually comes into play. The tee box and tees are positioned in a way that is a bit awkward and not exactly straight forward. The tee shot shouldn’t be that difficult despite the bunkering around it. The approach must cross the creek, although it is much more in play here that it was on 6.
The penultimate hole is a shorter length par 4, but the meandering creek along the right is ever present the more the golf chooses to cut the dogleg. Four bunkers to the left protect the green. A hole you would expect to par or biride, but not necessarily a guarantee.
Old Silo concludes with a par 5 that is uphill and likely a three-shoter. There’s not a lot of trouble off the tee, though the left side would be preferred. The second shot is met with two choices of fairway: the right side is easier, but presents a more difficult approach. The green is protected on the left side and front right, and undulating.
When I visited Old Silo, they were feeling the heat from the 2005 drought where not many courses made it out of the summer. The place was in good of condition as it reasonably could have been and you could see efforts were being made to maintain what they had, and repair it for next season. There are a few decent holes on the course, but most of them come early in the round. I paid $59 for an all you can play on a weekday, plus some swag (free yardage book, etc.). Looks like the going rate in 2011 is $49 weekday and $59 weekend. There’s a great viewing deck in the clubhouse to watch those coming in and view the surrounding land.
Assuming things are when I played it, I may easily recommend Old Silo. It’s easily one of the top 5 public golf courses in Kentucky.
As of 2016 conditioning, with bunkers unmaintained for 3 years and poor turf conditions, I can no longer recommend this course. Very sad, for what was easily a top 5 public golf course in Kentucky. A shell of its former self.