I had the pleasure to play Miami Valley Golf Club recently. I believe that makes my first official full 18 of a Donald Ross course. I believe it is also the first course I have played that has hosted a major professional golf tournament (1957 PGA).
The course has quite a history, which you can read more about on their web site. Main stats are:
- Opened in 1919 (Happy 95th Anniversary)
- Designed by Donald Ross
- Hosted the 1957 PGA Championship, which was the last played under Match Play
Your best opportunities to score come on the first four holes. There are only three par 5s on the scorecard, and two of them are in the first 3 holes. The first hole is a fairly short par 5. A bunker on the left will challenge the drives. This will be your first of a few drives that are slightly blind. You’ll also find two things that are reoccurring themes; greens that slope back to front, and do not be long. An overcooked approach at the first can quickly turn into out of bounds.
The 2nd is only 400 yards and plays straight forward and slightly downhill on the drive. This should set up an uphill wedge approach to the green. One can see the bunker in front. However…
There’s also this guy on the left. I love use of the land here and don’t mind the blind bunker here. Makes for more thinking in subsequent rounds.
I really liked the routing at Miami Valley. Holes play in all sorts of directions. After going up and back and 1 and 2, you go diagonal at the par 5 3rd. This hole is the longest on the course, but still should be a hole where the better player expects birdie.
While the front 9 is a bit flatter than the back 9, 4 shows the curves that are in place. A very long hitter can challenge the dogleg and go for the green, protected by three bunkers.
For us mortals, a 3 wood or hybrid down the fairway will set up a wedge into the smallest green on the course. This was my favorite hole on the course.
The first par 3 comes at 5. For the next few holes, you need to hang on for the back 9. The whole can stretch out as far as 240 yards from the back. I played it at a much easier 140 yards. Trouble all around here, though the water should only come in play with a front-right pin position. 5 bunkers surrounding the green keep it well protected.
The 7th is a blind drive with a green approach that must be precise. My camera did not capture the depth of the run-off areas by the green.
The 8th is a fairly long par 3 that will accept a soft draw. There is a ridge in the green, so placing the ball in the right quadrant is a must if birdie or par are desired.
Both 9s close with cross-bunkers. There is a slimmer of opening on the right at #9, though the safe choice is to lay-up short, which leaves a mid (or short) iron into the green.
The In 9 at Miami Valley has a bit more elevation change than the front 9. This is especially true at 12 and 13.
Though 12 plays 455 yards from the tips, a generous, downhill fairway should leave players with a mid to short iron in.
This approach shot will be your most elevated shot of the day. The green is large, but well protected. Anything far right is dead, as a large tree will block any path you have to the green. Or, you can do what this author did, and miraculously shoot it through the trees. I did, unfortunately, miss the putt for par.
At 140 yards, hole 13 is the shortest on the course. The uphill nature of the hole will add another club to the shot. This is another hole where staying straight is imperative. Any miss to the right over the greenside bunker is absolutely dead.
14 and 15 are good birdie opportunities. At 14, the trees try to force a more faded shot. Naturally, I threaded a high draw through the trees. A greenside bunker protects the front of this 335 hole, but long hitters could still hit to this bunker and get up and down. Anything long, as with most approaches on this course, is not good.
Say “Hi” to Mr. Ross on your way to 15 tee.
15 is a classic risk/reward opportunity. From the back, it’s 290 yards to carry the cross-creek hazard. Even from the forward tees, this hole is not necessarily a driver hole, as the author found out.
If you can carry the creek, you’re left with a 220 yard shot to a green that will accept run-up shots. A miss short right or left however will face deep bunkers and a tough up and down.
Turn 180 and face the creek again at the 425 yard 16th. The creek is in play on the right of the drive and left on the approach, though better players should have no problem reaching in regulation.
17 concludes what I think is a decent mix of one-shotters at Miami Valley. The play in should be a high-fade. A front-right pin position is slightly blind and protected by additional bunkers on the front and right.
Unless your name is Bubba Watson, the cross-bunkers at 18 are probably not in play. However, the fairway does narrow around the 280 area, so club selection is again important off the tee. The flagstick is the tallest on the course, so you shouldn’t have a problem seeing the flag; even if your approach is semi-blind to the green. Thanks to my push, I had a great view of the green.
Miami Valley was the first course on the OINK Dream List that I had the privilege of playing. It has everything you could want in a golf club. Great facilities, great and friendly staff, and a nice, playable golf course. I played with a buddy in just over 3 hours, with me walking. The course is very walkable; no problems there.
I found the course to be extremely playable, and very high kudos to the grounds staff. The fairways were in great shape, and allowed for options with the high or low game. The rough was cut nice and low across the entire properly, resulting in no loss balls. The course was extremely playable. I’m sure today’s elite players could chew this course apart, but it maintains a very nice members course. I think Ross got as much out of the land as he possibly could. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back, and would consider joining if I lived closer to Dayton.