Consuming The Heart of It All Pt. I: Ohio’s Best Public Golf Courses (Nos. 11-15)

So it’s been a while since you’ve seen new content on the BPBM Blog, and we apologize. It’s been much, much longer since Golf.com has updated its Best-of-State-You-Can-Play list. A biannual event in these parts, it looks like the train may have just pulled up short in 2018. We assumed we’d be getting an update post-Ryder Cup, but no luck.

A decent number of blogs write off such lists, and have valid reasons for doing so. Most operate by balancing out the average reviews of hundreds of contributors. Sounds safe, but then you get a Tobacco Road, which blows the minds of modernists while thoroughly pissing off classicists. Or Tom Fazio, who tends to build aesthetic wonders…while architectural snobs sneer (guilty). Another complaint is that the true gems you only hear about from those in-the-know…remain hidden gems because they don’t appear in lists like these…because reviewers don’t get tips about them…because no one plays them…because they’re hidden gems. Self-fulfilling, never-ending cyclical loop.

We’re not gonna fix any of these problems. We can, however, rate the Best-You-Can-Play for Ohio (as presented by Golf.com) because it’s the only state where we’ve hit them all up. We live here. And as such, we’re qualified to point out some other highly qualified tracks (if not “hidden gems,” per se) if you read to the end. For now, check out how we’re feeling about Golf.com’s 2016 courses, reordered for our brutal reality (which is to say, “2018”). 

Ohio isn’t a public golf Mecca. But if you’re looking for a comfortable round while passing through, few states can compare for qualities and casualties. That didn’t sound right. Never mind. If you’re an Ohio resident, hater, or both, weigh in @BPBlackMetal.

 

Photo Cred: Cook’s Creek Golf Club

 

No. 15: Cook’s Creek Golf Club
South Bloomfield, Ohio
Designer: Michael Hurdzan
Golf.com’s 2016 Rating: No. 13

Already questioning our own judgement, because there are a lot of holes that we love at Cook’s Creek (the Par 5 that kicks off the back nine stands out…among all public holes in Ohio). Buttttt…the flood-prone nature of this course makes many rounds booked here a literal slog. Built on the confluence of the Scioto River and Walnut Creek, it would take a Super Mario-number of pipes to keep this dry. And, considering that John Cook (former PGA standout) has bought and sold this property a few times, it’s tough to say who owns it when. Although it’s an honest hour’s drive from this (south side of Columbus) to Northstar (north side), which Cook actually designed, we would probably recommend the more intriguing latter option.

 

Photo Cred: The Quarry Golf Club

 

No. 14: Quarry Golf Club
Canton, Ohio
Designer: Brian Huntley
Golf.com’s 2016 Rating: No. 7

So we’re going to get the “fire” emoji out of the way quick…Quarry Golf Club is a major overstatement on any Ohio course ranking list you’ve seen recently. I think what makes this ranking worse is that it doesn’t have to be; of any course on this list, it’s got the most modern, drastic design, and will probably alienate most conservatives / many, many others will love it. Although a few were just a bit too wonky to be taken seriously (if I had to guess the upward elevation change on No. 14, I’d put it in 1,100 ft. range), but most of the downhill designs, like the title-quarry-lined No. 5 are just fun. Designer Brian Huntley gets no real blame here, but bunker and green conditions were…I won’t say “trainwrecks”…because that would be a cliché. There’s all the potential in the world to get back to Golf.com’s prognosis, but based on the small crowds present when we played during a Summer weekend, we would be concerned about its survival. Just a theory, hopefully incorrect.

 

Photo Cred: Denison Golf Club

 

No. 13: Denison Golf Club
Granville, Ohio
Designer: Donald Ross
Golf.com’s 2016 Rating: No. 15

This one tends to ride the caboose when Golf.com’s rankings come down, which isn’t all that surprising, even with the Donald Ross tag. Ohio, probably as with your state, has a plentitude of Ross entries—to an extent where one has to question how much of a role the icon actually had in their creation. Denison (formerly Granville Golf Club) certainly gathers such grumbles. A sentimental disappointment, maybe, but there’s little doubt Ross was pulling the strings…even if he was located on the East Coast while doing it. Although the crow’s-nest tee shot on No. 18 gets most of the attention, the real joys lie in a selection of typically soul-crushing Par 4s. Holes no. 2, 3, 8 and (especially) 15 will be among your toughest pars…and probably your favorite holes. Things are back in shape during 2018 after a bout with fairway fungus last year.

 

Photo Cred: Black Diamond Golf Course

Black Diamond Golf Course
Millersburg, Ohio
Designer: Barry Serafin
Golf.com’s 2016 Rating: No. 11

Barry Serafin designed one of BPBM’s nearest publics, New Albany Links. It should be a fun course. He and ownership weren’t worried about rubbing classicists the wrong way with a few nuts holes. That said, we won’t recommend playing there because a different ownership has let a fun layout go to waste. You’ve probably got a similar story in your neck of the woods. The only reason why we bring it up is because Serafin also designed Black Diamond, which would be a great addition—personality-wise—to the New Era Golf collection…but fortunately it’s probably too far outside Columbus city limits. Diamond isn’t going to top any state’s best-of lists any time soon, but it’s a fresh, fun value that we city slickers would be blessed to have.

 

Photo Cred: Eaglesticks Golf Club

 

No. 11: Eaglesticks Golf Club
Zanesville, Ohio
Designer: Michael Hurdzan
Golf.com’s 2016 Rating: No. 10

You’re not going to get a better value on this list than Eaglesticks, and many people are reasonably confused how a gem like this ends up in Zanesville, a town that pretty much lives up to your expectations of economic performance when you think of Eastern Ohio. We’re not bitter…just shamelessly jealous. That said, such a value, paired with a lack of regional competition, results in the most crowded course on this list as well. If you come down on the weekend, you’ll probably be lucky to get out in less than 5.5 hours. The rolling hills and forced carries lead to plenty of lost balls, compounding the problem. That said, they also make for a fun round of golf from a designer who more-often-than-not gets stuck doing subdivision jobs in Ohio. Despite his resumé-toppers like Erin Hills and Devil’s Paintbrush, it’s nice to have as many public entries from this local boy as we do. Wish we could say the same of Jack Nicklaus (SPOILER ALERT?!?)

That went a little longer than we expected, and it’s slow golf season in Ohio. We’ll pick up where we left off next week. For now, here’s a taste of some fine Ohio metal to wash your distaste down with. Spit it out @BPBlackMetal.

The Black Antler

What was the first thing to draw us to The Black Antler? If we’re being honest, it was the singular nature of the band’s title. The “black” adjective has been played to death, so you can’t just attach it to any noun and cause a stir. But an antler? Antlers come in pairs…this is accepted evolutionary science. The idea of one black antler, much less THE Black Antler, is undeniably appealing. Some might argue that Black Tusk is the same idea, but the lack of an article suggests that there may be many black tusks. This is THE Black Antler. Coincidentally, the two groups share some similarities…namely a base in hardcore. Whereas the Savannah icons marry the city’s sludge scene, Columbus has no such scene to latch onto, and thus Antler heads in the direction of grind. The groups has a new album, Deathless, but this song is not on it. Check the new one out, regardless.

Don't like us TOO much. Popularity will kill the scene.

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