Category: Ohio

July 24, 2012

Reports: Water use, electric bills soar as courses battle heat and drought

Posted at 5:06 PM by Michael Rosengart

It’s on the news every evening these days, snugged right in between election coverage, Penn State news and the latest gossip about the Kardashian clan. What is it?

The heat.

This summer has been an absolute scorcher. According to the Weather Channel, 63 percent of the country is in a drought. The Midwest is getting hit the worst, but the Southeast and the Rocky Mountain regions are also suffering. Golfers and golf courses across the country are doing what they can to make it through with temperatures at or near triple digits on a regular basis.

For instance, Tom Wilson of the Newark Advocate in Ohio shares the story of Kyber Run Golf Course in Johnstown, where Director of Golf Ben Tigner said, "We are fine in the mornings from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., but in the afternoon, no one is playing because it's so hot. It's like a ghost town in the afternoons."

At the nearby Granville Golf Course, they’ve taken a unique approach to try to keep business flowing:

[Assistant professional Luke] Radabaugh said Granville is offering a special twilight rate after 2 p.m.

"Everyone wants to beat the heat, so they are playing early," Radabaugh said. "We dropped the rates in the afternoon to try and get more people out, but it's tough. If you look out there in the afternoon, the course has been empty because of the heat.

And everywhere, grounds crews are fighting nonstop to keep their courses playable. In the St. Louis suburb of Alton, the Post-Dispatch’s Tim O’Neill reports that local course superintendent Mike Beckman has doubled his course’s water usage:

In more pleasant weather, he said, the course runs its irrigation systems three or four times weekly.

"We're at it seven days a week," Beckman said. "We lose a quarter-inch of moisture every day. It takes a long time to get that much water back into the soil."

Electric bills are soaring too. Up in Wisconsin, the Baraboo News Republic’s Ed Zagorski writes that even a reserve supply of well water isn’t all good news for Clint Hutchens, general manager of Baraboo Country Club:

Hutchens said the club already doubled its electrical bills from last season. “If you have golfers who are out on the course for 18 holes, they don’t want to walk into a clubhouse that is warmer than it is outside,” he said. 


October 07, 2011

10 Courses Worth Arguing About

Posted at 6:13 PM by Joe Passov

Diamond Travelin' Joe has played more than 1,500 courses and has an opinion on each of them. Here are five that deserve more love, and five high-profilers that puzzle me.


1. Black Diamond (Quarry), Lecanto, Fla.
After years of high rankings, some have found flaws in this Diamond (pictured). Outside of homes encroaching on the front nine and perhaps some hit-and-miss conditioning, I can't see them, even with a jeweler's glass.

2. Blackwolf Run (River), Kohler, Wisc.
The River has suffered from three factors: a brief closure for renovation in '09, the splintering from its original 1988 layout and inevitable comparisons to its sibling, Whistling Straits. When the U.S. Women's Open visits in 2012, competitors will rediscover one of Pete Dye's greatest strategy-laced creations.

3. Desert Forest, Carefree, Ariz.
This favorite of Tom Weiskopf is the closest thing the Arizona desert has to a classic course. While narrow and framed with mostly trees and unplayable underbrush, it does put supreme emphasis on thoughtful ball placement. This low-profile 1962 design was ahead of its time.

4. The Country Club, Pepper Pike, Ohio
No designer in history built better gooseneck green complexes than William Flynn, the kind where only properly placed drives would reap the benefit on the approach. He did brilliant work on this suburban Cleveland layout, where a recent renovation makes it worth a look.

5. Prestwick, Ayrshire, Scotland
The quirkiest "championship" course violates every rule of modern course design, yet succeeds in the "fun" department better than most highly-ranked courses. Long, blind par 3s, oncoming trains in the line of play, the freakishly deep, hidden bunker guarding the "Alps" 17th green—it all adds up to greatness in my book.


1. Colonial Country Club, Ft. Worth, Tex.
Storied Colonial has slipped in the respect department over the years, and I can see why. I love the Hogan aura and mystique, but this flat, cramped layout doesn't really inspire architecturally, nor does it sufficiently test the pros. Even par used to contend. Now, it won't even make the cut.

2. Sutton Bay, Agar, S.D.
Blame nature for the demise of one of the most acclaimed new courses of the past 10 years. Tragically, this 2003 Graham Marsh bluff-top prairie design is literally breaking apart due to fissures in fairways and greens caused by shifting landforms and will likely soon be abandoned.

3. Royal County Down, Newcastle, Northern Ireland
One of my personal favorites combines unmatched beauty and brawn, but wow—when the wind blows, the many blind, narrow, gorse-guarded valley fairways and infamous eyebrow bunkers make for a march of holes that are relentlessly penal.

4. Carnoustie (Championship), Carnoustie, Scotland
I have friends, all better players than I, who place Carnoustie on the top rung. Yes, it's great, but its lack of sea views, the overly punishing, artificial looking bunkers, and the strangely placed water features menacing the final two holes all leave me cold.

5. World Woods (Pine Barrens), Brooksville, Fla.
This is one of the nation's best values, but I'm surprised it hangs on to its lofty rankings since so many superior public and private courses have emerged in the past 18 years. The solitude, risk/reward options and Pine Valley-esque features remain appealing, but their novelty has long since faded for me.

(Photo: John and Jeaninne Henebry)

September 22, 2011

Ask Travelin' Joe: Scotland, Columbus, London and Santa Barbara

Posted at 5:13 PM by Joe Passov


Hi Joe,

I'm planning a trip to the UK with my wife, who grew up in England. After a lot of pleading on my part, she's agreed to head up to Scotland for a few days. Outside of the British Open courses, I'm lost. Any recommendations on two, maybe three rounds of golf on this once-in-a-lifetime trip?
Jess D. Brown, via e-mail

Hold your head high, fella—you're going to St. Andrews! Now, I still say the region's two Open sites are mandatory. If you can't snare a tee time on the Old Course, at least soak up the experience by walking much of the course, or all of it on Sundays when it is closed to play. Carnoustie (£135/$220; 01144-1241-802270,, the seven-time Open venue 45 minutes up the coast, is your must-play blast of brutish links golf.

Closer to town, Kingsbarns (£185/$302; 01144-1334-460860, offers an arresting blend of old-fashioned, contour-heavy holes and modern spectacular seaside tests, such as the par-5 12th and the all-or-nothing, practically in-the-sea par-3 15th.

A dozen other enticing options await in the area, including the 116-year-old "New" course at St. Andrews (£35-£70/$57-$114; 01144-1334-466666, For a taste of pure quirky charm, I'm partial to Crail's Balcomie Links (£57-£72/$93-$118; 01144-1333-450686,, which amuses with blind shots, holes that cross each other and Firth of Forth panoramas at every turn.

Dear Joe,
I'm heading to Columbus, Ohio for a wedding. A buddy of mine is getting married to a member at Muirfield Village, so we get to play there one day. Any other courses you'd recommend?
Matt Garretson, via e-mail

Pfffffft. That's the air seeping out of your bubble, because any public course in the region will be a colossal letdown after teeing it up at Jack's Place. The only track that comes close is Longaberger ($64-$99; 740-763-1100, in Nashport, a 45-mile drive east that's worth the journey. At 7,243 yards, with Tour-level (if not Muirfield-level) conditioning, this Arthur Hills design succeeds on every level, from price to shot values. Most memorable are the 563-yard, par-5 4th that plummets 15 stories from tee to green, and the watery 444-yard, par-4 8th.

Columbus's second-tier publics are pretty strong, but I'm partial to the Donald Ross-designed Granville ($28-$55; 740-587-4653,, a layout that comes with both Old World charm and bargain basement prices.

Dear Joe,
I'll be traveling to London this summer. I'm looking to play a seaside links course at a reasonable price that's also within reasonable driving distance. I've looked into Prince's Golf Club in Sandwich and it seems to be a good course at a good price. Do you agree with that? What other courses would you suggest?
Sam Dostaler, Plainville, Conn.

At $122 midweek, a price that includes coffee, a bacon roll and a gift bag, Prince's (£75-£85/$122-$139; 01144-1304-611118, is certainly worth the 100-mile drive from London's Gatwick Airport. However, I'm not going to crown Prince's as the value king of England's southeast coast just yet. This 27-holer is a sturdy test and dishes out memorable views of Pegwell Bay, but it's not the same layout that witnessed Gene Sarazen's 1932 British Open win. That course was obliterated in World War II. While Prince's is separated only by a boundary fence from 2011 Open venue Royal St. George's, it's a low-profile, flattish layout without the giant sand hills and memorable holes of its neighbor.

If you can't swing Royal St. George's $245 green fee, then consider Royal Cinque Ports (£125-£150/$204-$245; 01144-1304-374007,, 15 minutes south, in Deal. This two-time Open venue (1909 and 1920) serves up links delights in abundance, with topsy-turvy terrain, plateau and punchbowl greens and an ancient Roman road that parallels the par-4 12th.

Dear Joe,
I have a friend who lives in San Francisco, and I'm in San Diego. We're thinking of planning a three-day, five-round weekend golf trip somewhere in the middle. Do you have any suggestions on courses between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara? We're looking for value on all parts of the trip.
Michael Lilien, San Diego, Calif.

Anchor your trip around Monarch Dunes in Nipomo ($35-$95; 805-343-9459,, 70 miles north of Santa Barbara. Sandy soil, coastal dunes, artfully positioned bunkers and eucalyptus trees that swat away stray shots spice the proceedings. Don't neglect the resort's par-3 course ($19-$30), a 12-hole layout with superb one-shotters and a set of wild greens.

Also check out La Purisima ($40-$110; 805-735-8395, in Lompoc, a brute (75.6/143) from the 7,105-yard tips that can be walked for $40 after 2 p.m.; and the River Course at Alisal ($45-$72; 805-688-6042,, where Miles and Jack from the wine-buddy movie Sideways struck their crooked shots and cursed Merlots.


July 26, 2011

Take it from Joe: Play the PGA Championship Here!

Posted at 2:14 PM by Joe Passov

Sebonack Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y. Photo: Larry Lambrecht.

Atlanta Athletic Club, site of the 2011 PGA Championship, is a strong test of golf, but does anybody really enjoy the PGA's choices of rough-choked layouts in hot August temperatures? Here are my 10 picks — some realistic, some fantasy — for where I'd like to see the PGA played next.

1. Los Angeles Country Club (North)
Los Angeles, Calif.

This famously exclusive club that abuts Hugh Hefner's mansion will finally open its doors to the outside world when it hosts the 2017 Walker Cup, the better to show off its stunning 2010 Gil Hanse restoration. Tree removal has opened up long-hidden vistas, bunkers now resemble their 1920s George Thomas originals, and a succession of meaty par-4s would test even the best.

2. Trump National Bedminster (Old)
Bedminster, N.J.

Tom Fazio designed this modern masterpiece in 2004, not far from USGA headquarters. Together with its younger sibling the New, the course would make a worthy challenge for the pros, with plenty of gallery space as well. Say what you want about its owner—and this course—but the publicity build-up would be off the charts.

3. Sebonack Golf Club
Southampton, N.Y.

The PGA enjoys going to new places from time to time, so why not Sebonack, the 2006 Jack Nicklaus/Tom Doak collaboration right next to the National Golf Links of America and overlooking Peconic Bay? The U.S. Women's Open visits here in 2013, but I wouldn't mind spending part of my August in the Hamptons, watching the Bubbas and Rorys battle the breezes.

4. Sand Ridge Golf Club
Chardon, Ohio

One of the more tranquil golf experiences I've enjoyed took place at this private 1998 Tom Fazio creation built for the folks at Best Sand, whose adjacent quarry supplies bunker sand to many other courses. I'll admit that August in suburban Cleveland can be toasty, but the city's rabid sports fans would turn out in droves—and hey, Cleveland could use a break.

5. Spyglass Hill
Pebble Beach, Calif.

Every year at the AT&T, Spyglass is dumbed down to get amateurs around in under seven hours. I'd love to see the pros cope with this course set up in full fury. Plus, August on the Monterey Peninsula is pleasant duty indeed.

6. Muirfield Village
Dublin, Ohio

Sure, this course already enjoys tons of exposure from Jack's annual PGA Tour shindig. But it would be nice to see the PGA show a little additional love by tossing a bone to the five-time winner of its premier championship, whose hometown course is easily deserving of a Major.

7. Pine Valley Golf Club
Pine Valley, N.J.

One of my fantasy picks hosted the 1985 Walker Cup and is home to the annual Crump Cup, an invitational event that no top amateur turns down. Alas, Pine Valley has too much sand and scrub to allow for efficient gallery flow, but wouldn't it be awesome to see the game's best tackle the best course in the game?

8. Pronghorn (Nicklaus)
Bend, Ore.

Formerly a private real estate development spread, Pronghorn now offers limited public play, although few will take on the 7,379-yard tips, with a 75.2 rating and 151 slope. I'd relish watching the pros try it, especially amid Bend's dry, perfect August climate, at 3,200 feet in the shadows of Mt. Bachelor.

9. Nantucket Golf Club
Siasconset, Mass.

This exclusive, low-profile Rees Jones design ripples with moguls and is long enough when the wind blows to challenge the play-for-pay crowd. And any excuse to spend a portion of August on the island of Nantucket justifies its inclusion on this list.

10. Crystal Downs
Frankfort, Mich.

Perched upon a bluff between Lake Michigan and Crystal Lake, this Alister MacKenzie/Perry Maxwell collaboration is a bit too remote and lacks sufficient length to bother today's stars, but toss in gusts off the lake, dense native roughs and enough classic holes to fill a design textbook, and it would provide a memorable PGA site regardless of scores.

July 08, 2010

Ask Travelin' Joe: New Jersey, Columbus and North Carolina

Posted at 11:33 AM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Hi Joe,
I have a friend who won a certificate for a twosome at New Jersey's Baltusrol. Unfortunately, four of us are making the trip. If I am not the lucky one, I was looking for advice on a decent course that's in that general vicinity. Any suggestions?

Kevin M.
Via email

"Would the two really jealous guys please report to the first tee?" Kevin, if you happen to miss out on Baltusrol, I couldn't blame you for being a little bummed. That said, you'll get over your woes in a hurry at Neshanic Valley Golf Course ($50-$80; 908-369-8200, Situated in Neshanic Station, 25 miles southwest of Baltusrol as the crow flies, Neshanic Valley is a $20 million muni with 27 Hurdzan/Fry-designed holes, a 9-hole executive Academy course, a state-of-the-art practice center and the second on-course Callaway club-fitting center built in the U.S.

The Lake/Meadow combo opened first, with the aptly named Lake offering the most risk-reward options, but the Ridge nine is equal to the others in challenge and interest. This treeless spread sports tall grasses, serious bunkering, undulating greens and excellent conditions, especially for a muni. No, it ain't Balty, but Neshanic is nonetheless a soothing salve.

Dear Joe,
What are the best-condition, challenge, beauty-public access courses near Columbus, Ohio (within about 20 miles of downtown Columbus? I want to play at least one on a visit in late July with my teenage high school golf team sons. Cost is not an issue.

John P. Ryan
Via email

For the perfect blend of what you're looking for in the Buckeye State, you'll have to drive 45 miles east to Longaberger ($59-$99; 740-763-1100,, in Nashport, the Arthur Hills design that rates as Ohio's best public course.

For something closer to the number you were looking at, try the vapidly named East Golf Club ($39-$59; 614-855-8600,, a well-wooded Arthur Hills creation in New Albany, seven miles outside the I-270 loop, that's decidedly more interesting than its name. Once the private Winding Hollow Country Club, then known as Tartan East, the layout is terrific even if its name isn't.

Hello, Joe,
My brother and I are going to be staying in Bryson City, N.C. from July 10-July 15. We have a free place to stay in Bryson City. What courses do you recommend in the area? We would be willing to travel within a 1- to 1.5-mile radius.

Boone Sutties
Conroe, Texas

Start right down the road with the brand new Sequoyah National Golf Club ($65-$110; 828-497-3000, in Cherokee, a Robert Trent Jones II/Notah Begay creation in the heart of the Smokies. Narrow, but spectacular defines this tree-studded tribal track that's part of the Harrah's Cherokee Hotel & Casino.

Forty-five minutes to the east, in Asheville is the Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa ($85-$149; 800-438-5800,, where the history of the hotel (ten U.S. Presidents have lodged there, including current First Golfer Barack Obama) is exceeded perhaps only by its classic Donald Ross layout, where savvy on uphill, downhill and sidehill lies will come in handy.

For another classic Ross experience at a fraction of the cost, the 6,420-yard, par-72 Asheville Municipal Golf Course ($17-$38; 828-298-1867, will satisfy. A flat front nine yields to a wildly hilly back side, capped off by the downhill plunge at the 222-yard, par-3 18th.

May 27, 2010

Ask Travelin' Joe: Hampstead, N.C. and Cleveland

Posted at 12:57 PM by Joe Passov

If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at

Hi Joe,
I have a foursome that is going down to Hampstead, N.C. (between Topsail Island and Wilmington). We have a free place to stay and are looking for three to four courses to play in that area that are challenging but will not break the bank. Any suggestions?

Dwayne L. Young
Uniontown, Ohio

Nice time of year to crawl along the Carolina coast. Start with Wilmington Municipal ($22-$35; 910-791-0558,, a ridiculously affordable, well-bunkered 1926 Donald Ross design that was handsomely restored by Clyde Johnston.

In Hampstead itself, Topsail Greens ($18-$35; 910-270-2883, is a solid choice for value, convenience and its island-green 17th.

Twenty miles up the road, in Sneads Ferry is North Shore Country Club ($30-$78; 910-327-2410,, a sturdy 6,866-yard track with views of the Intracoastal Waterway. The lake-guarded 225-yard, par-3 17th and 456-yard, par-4 18th that demands two water carries, form an attractive, if rugged finish.

Finally for a splurge, check out the Cape Fear National ($110; 910-383-3283,, a brand new Tim Cate design in the Brunswick Forest development of Wilmington. You find all the modern bells and whistles here - bold bunkering, wetlands carries and contoured greens-wrapped up in a tranquil package.

Dear Joe,
I'm headed back to Cleveland, Ohio for a wedding in June and have time to play one round. Any good publics to recommend?

Lorna Cavanaugh
Tucson, Ariz.

Happy occasions are great, especially in Cleveland, where the masses are still mourning the Cavaliers. For the perfect break from the family, my pick is Fowler's Mill ($42-$69; 440-729-7569, in Chesterland, an excellent early Pete Dye design, circa 1972. Twenty-seven wooded, attractive holes await, but go with the Lake/River combination if you can. I managed to ace the 211-yard 3rd hole in 1996 (playing 192 that day) but the city's greatest scorecard wrecker comes one hole later, at the 461-yard, par-4 4th, which arcs to the right around a huge lake. A piece of wedding cake, catch a Tribe game and a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and you've got a quality trip.

Just Back From: Primland Resort, Meadows of Dan Virginia
The Highland Course at Primland Resort popped into our 2008 Top 100 Courses You Can Play at No. 62 and it's easy to see why. Stunning, pristine Blue Ridge Mountain aesthetics are only part of the story. Firm, fast fairways and greens, dramatic elevation changes and compelling strategic options complete the picture on this Donald Steel design.

Another plus: In the past two years, they've cleared trees to open up more vistas of the gorge known as the Pinnacles of Dan as well as of distant peaks. I do have two knocks: First, it's an unrelenting spread, with thick rough and steep fall-offs responsible for a daunting middle tee slope of 139 - it's worse for ladies, a stratospheric 147 from the front tees. Second, its mountaintop location makes it prone to fog and mist.

That said, if you have to hole up inside for awhile, the new 26-room Lodge at Primland is a great place to do it. The regular rooms are stellar, but the Pinnacles Suite is one of the top hotel rooms in all of golf. The two-level setup features a pair of sofas downstairs, one facing a large HD flatscreen, the other looking out at the 10th fairway and the densely treed mountains beyond. You reach the bedroom via a spiral staircase.

Once upstairs, the silo-shaped shower features a stone floor, tile walls and three different kind of shower heads.

You want more cool stuff? Automatic shades control the 270-degree viewing prospects from 11 windows, both upstairs and down. Gourmet dining at Elements, a new spa and outdoorsy fun such as Sporting Clay Shooting, Horseback riding and ATV romps are part of the unusual offerings. So is the 4th-floor telescope room, where the roof opens to the sky and an astronomer on-site will explain what you're gazing at.

Primland is pretty remote - more than an hour from Greensboro on country roads - but I'll recommend it for a unique, pampering getaway and a memorable course., 866-960-7746; golf packages from $400 per person per night.

June 03, 2009

A Bargain Golf Trip Guide: Columbus, Ohio

Posted at 5:00 PM by Ryan Reiterman

We're all watching our wallets these days, so this might not be the year for that big golf vacation. But it doesn't mean you and your buddies have to chain yourselves to the local muni. Now might be a good time to check out some underrated destinations that may not have the curb appeal of Pebble Beach, but still provide a great trip for a great value.

While I am not a seasoned traveler like Travelin' Joe Passov, I can safely say Columbus, Ohio is a great place for a bargain getaway.

Continue reading "A Bargain Golf Trip Guide: Columbus, Ohio" »

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Our traveling correspondent has been where you're going. Heading out of town on vacation? Business trip? Travelin' Joe can suggest the best places for you to tee it up. If you want to ask Travelin' Joe a question, e-mail him at


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