Year in Courses – 2016

As expected, I didn’t see that many unique courses in 2016. Having joined a club, I have little financial reason to venture outwards. My desire to see new places and study the best courses in my area remains high. Ultimately, I played 8 courses outside of my home course. 6 of those I hadn’t played before.

I have write ups coming for most of these. Nothing to blame but laziness for not getting them up.

Here’s how they faired:

#8 California Golf Course – Cincinnati, OH
Played this one during a work off-site. The course is part of the Cincinnati Municipal Golf system. While I’m glad it’s around, I have no real desire to go back anytime soon. The course is very narrow in most spots. The front 9 shortly flirts with a Cincinnati Water Works reservoir, but ultimately isn’t that interesting. The back 9 gets really funky. Between a couple of hole transitions, it’s a very difficult walk. Better hope your insurance is solid with the parking lot to the right of the 18th fairway.

#7 Walden Ponds Golf Course – Hamilton, OH
Played this one on the coldest May day I can remember in the Cincy area for a long time. Cold and rainy. Yuck.

Walden Ponds is solidly a top 10 public course in Cincinnati. It’s a Hurdzan sub-division course, and while the houses are quite noticable, the course has enough width where they shouldn’t come in to play. I walked the course in 2004, but I understand that’s no longer allowed. If you’re in the area, it’s one I can recommend. However, if you have any level of access, I would suggest you instead check out the Ross 18 at Hamilton Elks down the road.

#6 Country Club of the North – Xenia, OH

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A sub-division Nicklaus course southeast of Dayton. This course was the first of my 7 rounds played in 4 days played during my golf trip. The course layout itself was fairly unremarkable, but its fairways were mostly pretty wide and the course was in really good shape. A decent way to start a trip.

#5 Woodland Country Club of Carmel – Carmel, IN

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This course started out as a Bill Diddel design. Major changes have taken place in recent years. The course sold off a big part of their northeastern property for development and bought a decent plot to the southwest. In fact, I think the (new) land that occupies holes 11-15 may be the best holes on the property. The course was completely redesigned by Pete Dye. At this point, it’s hard to tell that Diddel had a course here with the new/redesigned holes. That’s not a bad thing for the most part, though the new 17th and 18th holes feel very cramped.

#4 Broadmoor Country Club – Indianapolis, IN
I didn’t take any pictures at Broadmoor. It had been a rough morning. After playing 18 at Woodland very hungover, in 85 degree weather, and finding my cell phone had stopped functioning, I wasn’t really feeling the golf photog thing. I was happy to be in a major metropolis where finding a Verizon store was fairly easy.

Broadmoor isn’t the longest course, but it was one of the more fun layouts I played all year. The green at the par 4 13th is one of the more interesting ones I’ve played; and just a brutal back to front slope. The par 3s are all very good, with my favorite coming at 4 and 8. The course could admittedly use a little TLC with their fairway bunkers, but I’m glad I had an opportunity to play one of Indiana’s two Ross courses.

#3 Wilmington Municipal Golf Course – Wilmington, NC

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“The Muni” has been on my play list for a long time, and I finally had a chance to check it out. This has to be the most affordable Donald Ross course out there. Add the recent greens renovation by John Fought, and you have one of the best values in golf in the country. The greens are some of the best I’ve played yet. Aside from holes 3 and 4, most of the holes are pretty flat, and the fairways aren’t the most interesting. It’s a shame the golf world doesn’t have more courses like this: big name architect, value maintenance, inexpensive to play.

#2 Wolf Run Golf Club – Zionsville, IN

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The hardest golf course I’ve ever played. The course was the main attraction during my golf trip in 2016. 3 rounds of (handicapped) team competition. As I said in my review, the course just doesn’t let up on any shot. That being said, I found the course very playable from the right set of tees, even if I did lose a few balls. I would advise anyone to check this course out while it’s still around. There were plenty of shots I enjoyed playing at this course. Getting a par on extremely difficult par 4 15th was the highlight of my golf year in 2016.

#1 NCR Country Club (South) – Kettering, OH

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NCR’s South course has been high on my local playlist. Getting to play Wolf Run and NCR (South) in the same year and during the same golf trip was just great. As much as I liked Wolf Run, I have to give the clear nod to NCR (South) as the best course I played in 2016.

I had very high expectations coming in and they were exceeded. I haven’t had a chance to play many (any?) Dick Wilson courses. The M.O. for Wilson courses is long, thin fairways, thick rough. Not for the feint of heart. While the course was tough for sure, I found it extremely fun to play. Lots of elevation changes make it plenty interesting. I’m told the North course doesn’t have the land variety the South course has. I’ll just have to make it back to check it out.

The property at NCR is enormous. Two 18-hole golf courses, along with a driving range and short game area. We rushed from CC of the North to make our afternoon tee-time at NCR, so I didn’t have a chance to check out anything but the course we played. The par 5 6th hole is one of my favorite holes I’ve played. The 10th gets a lot of attention for being the “signature hole”, but I liked 6 better. Nice views from the 12th tee, which drops about 40 feet from tee to fairway. I’ll do a write-up eventually.

What I didn’t realize when I was teeing off from hole 3 was that Moraine CC’s 5th hole was just over the crest of the hill. If I have my way, I’ll be checking out NCR’s wonderfully renovated neighbor in 2017.

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Posted in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Private Stops

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