How do you become one of the most desirable clubs in the area? Parter with a local college to build one of the best practice facilities in the country.
Okay, it was a bit more complicated than that, but it helped, for sure.
Maketewah Country Club has always had a great reputation in Cincinnati. It’s hosted the U.S. Open Local Qualifier for the last bazillion years, and boasts one of the best playing memberships in town. I’m not sure who approached whom, but the partnership with Xavier University has worked out well for both parties.
A brand new, short game facility was built at Maketewah, including a multi-acre turf short game area and a building hosting, among other things, an huge indoor putting green. Xavier has a great tool to lure recruits to its golf team and Maketewah’s membership has seen a significant increase since the facility was built. Win-win!
The course is pretty good too. You’ll find one of the more unique routings at Maketewah as both 9’s end with par 3’s. Originally designed by Tom Bendelow in 1910, Donald Ross would re-do the course in the 20’s. The club is very centrally located to downtown Cincinnati, which has its pluses and minuses. I think the pluses far outweight the minuses.
Holes of note
The fourth hole was one that saw significant changes. A large group of bunkers was removed on the left side of the dogleg.
To challenge those willing to cut the corner, a carefully placed bunker in the middle of the fairway will gladly accept any shot slightly off the aggressive line. The hole now plays as a par 4. The safe shot is a 3w to the right side of the fairway, requiring a mid- to long-iron in.
The only change 5 saw from the renovation is a back-tee set across the entrance road. That tee is not used very often. What I like about the hole is the undulations in the fairway and a green that requires a good shot to find the right quadrant.
This has to be the toughest hole on the golf course; and perhaps its best. A good drive here will challenge the left side of the fairway, with O.B. lurking if you fire too far off-line. Closer to the green, the fairway runs out. The player must ask themselves is to play a hybrid/long-iron second shot, or to layup and try to get up and down for par.
The 8th plays a bit shorter than its 438 yardage. If you really get a hold of the ball on a dry day, it’s possible you can have one roll out to the bottom of the hill, thanks to the recently re-grassed area, which was converted to fairway turf.
Just getting on the green is no picnic. The large green his severely sloped from back-to-front. Staying below the hole here is a must, or a three-putt is almost certainly assured.
The 10th was the host most changed by Silva’s renovation. The old back tee by the driving range was removed. The hole now moves more to the left, with a green complex that is much different than its predecessor.
The new green is about 50 yards further up than the previous one, and is now much narrower. It’s cut into the hillside with a big bunker short right. Another bunker was added to the left, but shouldn’t be in play the back tees. It’s a bit less than 300 from the Whites; so if you bomb one down the hill, I suppose it might be in play from that box. While I like the new hole better than the old, it does stand out as a different hole than the others, and it adds a walk of about 80 yards to the 11th tee box.
This is a tough hole. The 446 yard hole would play tough on flat land. What makes the hole that much harder is a significantly uphill climb to the green, which I’m not sure the picture above accurately represents. At the risk of a cliché, par is a good score here.
Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another regulation golf course that ends BOTH 9’s on par 3’s. The final hole at Maketewah is an all carry affair that must find the green. Anything short could potentially find its way rolling to the bottom of the hill. Being long leaves a downhill chip to a green that slopes slightly back-to-front, right-to-left.
Mak, as it is affectionally known, is worth a look if for no other reason than the practice facilities. Truly first-class, and allows members to play some semblance of golf year round.