An interesting thread came up on GCA about golf courses that have defined your golfing life. I thought this would be a good time to reflect on those such courses for me. Here is the extended version.
Delhi Hills Par 3 – Cincinnati, OH
This first one is easy for me, as I grew up literally on Delhi Hills Par 3. It’s also quite ironic that I grew up on a golf course, yet didn’t take up the game seriously until 21. The course opened in 1958 by two brothers and is still kept in the family. The course was built by hand. The shortest hole is around 90 yards and the longest is about 160 yards.
As a kid, I was known to play the course every now and again. I can’t confirm nor deny that I snuck on a few times and played a loop of two holes. Living on the tee of the longest hole, I was also known to hit balls I’d find in the woods.
My main sport was soccer, with a small foray into cross-country. I never saw myself as a golfer, and it probably wouldn’t have happened if not for two courses to be mentioned below.
Par 3 doesn’t see as much traffic as it did when I was a kid. I suspect the course stays open because the family makes enough money from its other golf enterprises that it’s able to write-off the expense. I hope this pitch-and-putt remains open for years to come for new generations to learn the game.
Arcadian Shores Golf Club – Myrtle Beach, SC
I believe this was my first 18 hole round of golf. I was 16 years old on a summer vacation with my family. Like a lot of teenagers that age, I was embarrassed to be seen out with my parents. I don’t remember a lot of good from that vacation. It also so happened we were staying close to Arcadian Shores and passed by a few times.
Through some negotiation with my father, I was able to get him to take me out. I don’t remember much of the routing of the course; or really much of the round. I remember it being a long round of golf, and that the course was packed to the gills. I know I struggled big-time. I remember a lucky shot on a par 3 that hit a rake by a bunker and ended up rolling 1 or 2 feet from the cup. To this date, it’s the closest I’ve come to a hole-in-one. Yet, this experience was not enough for me to pick up golf, as I would play soccer competitively into my sophomore year in college.
Kiawah Island Resort (Cougar Point) – Kiawah Island, SC
The story of my round at Cougar Point is well known by my golf buddies at this point. This really was the round that started the addiction.
It was the summer of my junior year of college. I went on a trip with some of my friends (who all happened to be female) to spend a week at one of the friends’ parents’ villa on Kiawah Island. The villa was closer to the tennis courts that it was a golf course; though we did pass Turtle Point’s 16th hole getting to the beach. This was before The Sanctuary was built.
As we toured the island, we would drive by plenty of the golf courses; notably Cougar Point and Turtle Point. After driving by many times, I decided that I needed to play a round while I was on vacation.
In hindsight, that was A LOT of money I put down to play a round of golf, especially for one who didn’t play. Shocker: Kiawah Island is NOT cheap. As it would happen, I pared this first hole. This wouldn’t be the only par of the round, but it certainly was the most memorable. I came very close to paring the last hole as well. But mostly, it was slices, shanks, and a lot of lost balls.
I came back to Cincinnati, bought a set of beginners clubs, and played as much as I could for one with summer camp job who worked from Sunday at noon to Saturday at 11AM.
Indian Ridge Golf Club – Oxford, OH
While attending Miami University, I had two different options to continue and feed my newly found golfing bug. One was Indian Ridge Golf Club south of town and Hueston Woods Golf Course north of town. Hueston Woods had a student rate on Thursdays after 3PM where one could play all they want (walking) for $15. Given traffic on the course and the time of year, this usually meant only 18 holes, but still a good deal.
But for courses that defined me, I have to give the nod to Indian Ridge. Hueston Woods is clogged with trees and is monotonous in design with its copious doglegs and long par 3s. Indian Ridge, on the other hand, is where I feel I learned how to play (even if I’m still terrible).
Indian Ridge is a Brian Huntley design that opened in the late 90s. There are a good variety of holes and a ridge separating the high and low points of the property. You only go up and down the ridge once on the front 9, but have to make up/down 3 times on the back, which makes the back 9 slightly more difficult to walk. At the time, the greens were some of the best you could find in the Cincinnati area. I always enjoyed getting out for a quick 9, or spending time on the practice area.
Canterbury Golf Club – Beachwood, OH
Canterbury wasn’t my first experience on a what one would call a great course. I had attended The Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village many times. I attended the 2005 Solheim Cup where I spent many days on the grounds of Crooked Stick. I played World Woods (Pine Barrens) and Atlantic City Country Club, where the origin of the term “birdie” was formed. A couple months prior, I played Miami Valley Golf Club, the first time I played a course that hosted a major championship.
However, it was during my rounds at Canterbury that I realized how good and how tough a golf course could be. It was the first time that was playing a course with such history; one of few courses to host a U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, PGA, Sr. PGA and Senior U.S. Open. It was the first time that I was (essentially) a member of a private club, if only for a weekend; meaning I had my own locker and grown-ass men for caddies. It was the first time I had played on turf that immaculate and greens that fast.
It was during this round that I met many of my online friends from GolfClubAtlas for the first time in person. One in particular played with me in the first round, saw me struggle, saw me alone on the range trying to right the ship, and spent time with me working out some kinks. Then told me to forget about it, get cleaned up, and join the rest of the crew for dinner. That experience meant a lot to me.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get my act together for the second round the next day. I topped and whiffed shots on my first hole of the day; a 590 yard par 5. Most of the round didn’t go well either. I was saved by finally playing my last hole somewhat respectably.
I used this experience at Canterbury to get my golf game in order. While my handicap has only slightly improved, I have proved a formidable opponent in match play. While I loss both of my matches at Canterbury, I have since gone 4-0-1 in matches since, including 2-0 in singles.
I do feel like I need to show Canterbury how I can really play. Hopefully I’ll make it back soon. I still have lots to see in the NE Ohio area.
What courses define you? Was it an experience on a world-class course? Was it a personal best? Was it where you first fell in love with the game?