To the untrained eye, all golf courses might look the same. But an experienced golfer knows no two courses are alike.
Golf courses abound in Ohio, and among their ranks are many that offer unique experiences.
Whether you’re looking to make a weekend trip or make it an adventure for a day with a group of friends, co-workers or family, there are plenty of options around the state that may pique your interest this summer.
Tannenhauf Golf Club
The Tannenhauf Golf Club is family-owned and is in its 54th year in operation. It is located in Alliance, in Stark County about 20 minutes outside of Canton.
Tannenhauf was a family dairy farm prior to 1959, and its roots are still visible to this day. The original barn is still on the property, having been repurposed to store equipment. A farmhouse also remains, now being used for residential purposes by family members.
“The third generation is working here now,” says Sue Snode, manager of the club’s pro shop. “I think over the years, somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 family members have worked in some aspect, whether it’s out mowing or behind the snack bar. We are proud of the fact we have had so many family members who, at some time or another, have been involved in the operation.”
The golf course has 18 holes with a gently rolling terrain. Ponds and frequently groomed sand traps keep the golfer’s experience interesting. Of the 18 holes, four are par 3, 10 are par 4 and four are par 5.
“Most fairways are tree-lined, so you have to make sure you hit it straight,” Snode says with a laugh.
Red Hawk Run Golf Course
Red Hawk Run Golf Course also began life as converted farmland.
The 18-hole course is located in Findlay in northwest Ohio. It made the transition from farmland to golf course in 1999, undergoing some shaping first to make room for more slopes.
“If you come here, you’re getting a pure golf experience,” says Dan St. Jean, director of golf operations.
The course is also notable for its sheer size – 7,200 yards – and the contouring used to shape the holes. Its design mixes elements of Scottish and North American golf.
Red Hawk Run has captured the attention of Golf Digest, which gave the course a four-and-a-half-star ranking for several years, St. Jean says. It has also hosted the NCAA Division II Super Regional tournament in 2008, bringing in teams from across the country.
“We’ve got a golf course that’s kind of a hidden gem, in a way,” St. Jean says.
Scottish Links at Glenlaurel
Everything’s a little more Scottish at the golf course connected to Hocking Hills bed and breakfast Glenlaurel: the course layout, the rules and even the atmosphere.
The idea is to offer an experience comparable to that of Scottish golf more than a century ago, says Glenlaurel co-owner Greg Leonard.
The Scottish Links at Glenlaurel was designed by Michael and Chris Hurdzan of Columbus-based Hurdzan Golf Design, which has created more than 400 courses around the world. In Scottish golf tradition, a course can have as few as five and as many as 25 holes, and Glenlaurel is on the lower end with eight.
There are no pars for Glenlaurel holes. Each does, however, carry a name; for instance, the first hole is Mike’s Folly, named for one of the two designers, and the fourth is Spring Hole, which was unknowingly built on a spring.
The course is rustic and challenging, and wholly different from the conventional golf experience thanks to its sand greens with no grass on them. A set of five original, 100-year-old hickory shaft clubs and vintage golf balls are available for patrons who want an extra challenge, with a vintage stovepipe golf bag and sand tee mold to accompany them.
“I don’t know if you can get a more unique golf course than that,” says Leonard. “We get so many people who come down and enjoy it and make so many great comments about the golf course.”
Glenlaurel as a whole has a pervasive Scottish theme, and that carries over into the links with such elements as old stone fences.
“It’s just totally different golf,” Leonard says. “It just screams ‘unique, different,’ and that’s what we really wanted to accomplish.”
Maumee Bay Golf Course
Ohio’s state parks are already known for their beauty, and that just makes the Maumee Bay Golf Course all the more striking.
The 18-hole course is located on 1,850 acres of protected wetland at Maumee Bay State Park, just outside of Toledo. The tall fescue grasses and glimpses of wildlife more than make up for the lack of trees – which many a golfer might like to avoid entirely.
“It’s a very good length of a golf course dictated by which way and how hard the wind is blowing,” says Don Karns, the course’s on-site golf pro.
The par-72 Maumee Bay course, which has hosted 10 U.S. Open qualifying tournaments, is in the Scottish links style, Karns says. It has gained some renown for its intimidating 14th hole, which serves up twists aplenty alongside water hazards.
“It has some rolls to it, but it’s a shot-maker’s golf course,” Karns says. “Anyone can play it because you can play it from 5,200 to 7,000 yards.”
Matthew Kent is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at email@example.com.