Aside from my quest to play the best golf in the tri-state area, I also have a mini-quest to play all of the Donald Ross courses within two hours of me.
One stop on this quest is Dayton Country Club. The club opened in 1897, and its early finding resulted in a physical location very, very close to the city center of Dayton, Ohio. The course was originally designed by Donald Ross, with touch-ups from Geoffery Cornish. The course recently went through a complete bunker renovation when I played, and I can tell you the results are fantastic. Kudos to @DCCTurf and the grounds staff and those involved with that job.
The driving range is one of the strangest laid out ranges I’ve seen. The range actually doglegs a bit to the right. Longer shots can be played to the right side; but, if you hit them straight and long, you’ll hit them out of the range. Given the club’s small footprint, I will say they do make use out of every inch of land they have. The course is far from the longest at just over 6,300 yards. There are 5 par 3’s and 3 par 5’s, playing 36-34-70.
The first two holes will give you a sense that this course is quite hilly. The first hole starts up high at the clubhouse, then goes quite down hill, before climbing back up another hill to the green.
The second shot will be mostly blind and will likely require another club. It is quite a view from the first tee.
After you climb to the first green, you’ll hit a long, drop-shot par 3 at the 2nd. Recent renovations have removed some bunkers and put others in play.
The pot bunkers you see before the green are farther away from the green than it seems.
Anything flying the green will likely end up in the stream that meanders throughout the property. It’s quite a disorienting hole between the bunker placement the elevation drop. Great early test of nerves.
Things get a bit more flat at 3. Most of the holes you play at Dayton CC will not have nearly the elevation changes you see at the first two holes. At #3, the player must choose to challenge the cross-hazard or lay back and play the hole as a three-shotter. The fairway gets progressively narrower towards the green. There’s not a whole lot of room to miss the green for those going for it in two. The green is average sized, guarded by bunkers left and right. Outside of these bunkers, there’s not a lot of course; especially on the right-side.
4 green is the farthest you’ll get from the clubhouse. There’s an interesting serpentine bunker guarding the right side, which of course, I found.
I’ve mentioned Dayton CC is on a smaller plot of land. The sixth hole is a good example of this. The hole is fairly straight-forward, and certainly reachable for the good player. For those going for it in two, if you miss the green, you could be in pretty bad shape. Miss too far right and you’re OB. Miss too far left, and you’re dealing with trees and the 7th tee.
7-9 bring elevation back into play. The recent bunker renovation is much improved the 7th hole. The hole is not super long at 322 yards, but goes quite uphill. The green is narrow and slopes hard back-to-front. Being above the hole is almost a guaranteed three putt.
The 9th hole goes back to the clubhouse and is a good target hole. The fairway runs out just before a valley. The approach to the green is downhill. A downhill lie will make the shot trickier, especially with the clubhouse and OB just behind the green.
The front 9 feels a bit wide open compared with the back 9. The inward 9 is not super tight, but if you spray the ball something fierce, you could literally be in a fairway two holes over. The 10th is a long, downhill par 3. Hook the ball too much, and you can just as easily be on the 18th green.
One of my favorites on the course was the par 4 11th. It’s 469 from the tips, but plays much shorter due to the drop from tee to fairway. The dogleg must be challenged to have a decent shot of reaching in regulation. Ideal play is a draw that challenges the fairway bunker on the right. Playing safe will almost certainly turn the hole into a par 5; or have your ball in 12 fairway.
The green is completely blind, and plays to a mini-punchbowl; somewhat similar to #2. The creek on the right will challenge second shots that are blocked a bit. The flagstick is especially huge, which is necessary to see it over the punchbowl.
There’s not a whole lot of room to miss the green on the back 9 at Dayton CC. On 12, missing long is really the play. Right contends with trees and left will contend with the stream. You might get lucky, as I did, and have your ball hit the concrete barrier guiding the stream; except my ball ended up getting plugged against the lip of the left-side bunker, eventually leading to a bogey. On 15, I actually had to play a shot under a tree, over a creek. Somehow, I managed to save par from that spot, but it’s not a place I would recommend your shot to go.
The green complex at 14 is fantastic. The hole plays 374, so it’s a fairly average hole. The green is on top of a ridge, and that’s where the fun begins. The green slopes left to right, and at the middle of the green, slopes hard downhill. The false front was something I didn’t realize as I played a chip to the hole from the left-side that I thought was pretty good. I realized after the ball passed the hole by a foot that I had misjudged the slope, and the ball was actually going off the green. Nothing unfair about the green; it’s appropriately sloped for its speed. You just have to be careful where you end up. The above picture of the green doesn’t do the undulations in the green justice.
The course ends with a short par 4 and a long par 3. 17 is blind off the tee, and the green must take a carried shot. 18 looks like its a narrow par 4, but it’s really a long par 3. It plays to a narrow green, and is not the easiest finishing hole. Fairly unusual to end on a par 3, but Ross has done it elsewhere, including Maketewah CC. Pull the shot too much at 18 and you could very well ending up on 10 green. It is that narrow.
As of this writing, I haven’t had a chance to play the big hitters in Dayton (Moraine, NCR, Springfield). I would guess Dayton Country Club falls somewhere in that second tier of Dayton courses, along with Miami Valley; which puts DCC in very good company in my book. Easy to recommend if you get the chance to play it.
I played in mid-October, and the changing leaves add to the character of the course more than others I thought. That view off the first tee with the orange leaves in the distance was very cool. Low scores can be had at Dayton CC, but you have to be precise. Bomb and gougers who lack accuracy will have a long day here.