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GCO PUBLIC GOLF (A through L)

M through Z

We have evaluated almost all golf courses open to the public within about an hour drive of the City of Cleveland. That is well over one hundred courses. Here you will also find our exclusive GCO Rating (golf cleveland ohio) for each course. These North East Ohio public golf courses are discussed alphabetically and rated on a scale from 1 to 100. 100 being the best. Pebble Beach would be perhaps 98. See how we rate golf courses. With so many course to chose from, sometimes it can be too time consuming to read all the GCO Ratings and details to find a course you like. So we installed our Smile-Rating, which corresponds to our GCO Rating system, to speed you on your way to the details.   As it is with most things, you usually get what you pay for at most courses. Unless otherwise stated, slopes and yardages are from the longest tees followed by the next longest.

 

 

 

ASTORHURST :  (440) 439-3636  18 metro-style holes in Walton Hills, south of Cleveland. Sort of short but with the most extreme elevation changes in the Cleveland area on two of the holes with 200 to 250 foot drops to the fairways. Some ebb and flow to the holes with emphasis on the back nine. From hole 12 and on the course significantly tightens up through the trees and valleys.  Only three par fives. Three short par fours. No houses on the course. 8 and 18 cliff tees are a little over the top. The only course I know that has a separate green for the men and a green for the women on a terrifying par three. Recent improvements on several tees boxes, a few mounds added to hole number two and the creek on hole nine widened and beautified with stones which now circumvents the green.  Too many out-of-bounds stakes and the greens always seen to be stressed. Three sets of tees. Could be marked better. Blue/red slope of 120 | 118 and yardage of 6083 | 5299.   GCO Rating 56

 

AUBURN SPRINGS :   (440) 543-4448  18 holes located in Chagrin Falls, about 30 minutes from the I-77/I-480 interchange. The best hole is the first and then it sort of never really develops. Below average conditions with turtle back greens. Too many blind tee shots. There are several ponds, but you just cannot see the hazards lurking out there most of the time. A sort of hack around course at low cost. Yardage of 6835 | 6488.   GCO Rating 38

 

AURORA :  (330) 562-2672  UNFORTUNATELY, THE COURSE APPEARS TO BE CLOSED AND PERHAPS PERMANENTLY.  More info to follow. 18 country club style holes in Aurora,  about half way between the Ohio Turnpike and Rt. 422 on Rt 306. This once private par 71 Bert Way design went public in 2009 and hopefully will remain a permanent fixture in the south east portion of our area. A wonderful classic design featuring plenty of elevations and crossing water hazards. A touch of modern contouring on the fairways and greens adds to the allure. It is not an easy nut to crack on your first effort and local knowledge will certainly go a long way. The signature feature here seems to be the perpendicular split fairways. There are several tee shots where you are confronted with the question of whether to hit driver or really throttle down. In fact, they tell you to lay up on 1, 5 and 12 but we're not so sure. The first hole is a fine example. Most will take a hybrid or long iron to the end of the first fairway and play the same club in. However, big hitter can carry the downslope all the way down to the flats and have a short iron in. The rub is that you need to make it all the way down or you will be stuck somewhere in the heavy rough of the downslope. The par 4 twelfth hole has a similar issue but with a dissecting stream. A well struck driver, perhaps with a little fade, can avoid the sentinel tree on the right and carry the stream leaving a mid iron in. If you can't make that play, you'll  need to lay up and try to get home from over 200 yards. Never, never, never, put your approach shot left on the par 4 ninth. Only the most deft lob wedge players have any chance to the most vertical green on the course. The general absence of  housing and plentiful mature trees are a major plus but O.B. in play on seven holes can be a  bit annoying. Medium to small width fairways lead to medium sized greens protected by a classic assortments of defense mechanism. Medium shallow bunkers, roll offs and greenside shoulders along with dangerous pedestals lend an old school flavor. Once on the greens, you need to deal with the particularly fast surfaces with sneaky breaks. The speedy greens do make some of the pin positions a bit tenuous on these old style greens so being below the hole is usually the best option. The par 4 eleventh is one of the more beautiful holes in the GCO database. Multiple tee options and combinations of tees. Basic slope 135 | 131 | 130 and basic yardage of 6632 | 6231 | 5444. GCO Rating 81

 

AVALON LAKES :  (330) 856-8898  18 championship holes in Warren, about 1 hour from the I-480 & I-77 interchange in Independence. Recent host of LPGA events, the outstanding course is always in excellent condition, even in the dead of summer. An old Pete Dye design, but no signature railroad ties. The classic but flat layout has undergone extensive re-contouring and is deceivingly challenging and beautiful. All greens are guarded and elevated. Lots of sand and water hazards. GPS systems on the cart. Excellent fast and true greens, with undulations. At least four of the par 4s require careful club selection from the tees due to hazards such as water and tight doglegs. Four sets of tees and well marked. Expensive. Blue/white slope of 127 | 122 and yardage of 7001 | 6453. GCO Rating 88

 

AVONDALE :  As of 2014, this golf course is closed and apparently, never to reopen.

BERKSHIRE HILLS :  (440) 729-9516  Par 72 (par 73 for women) located  8 miles east of I-271 on Mayfield Rd. in Chesterland. Perhaps appearing a bit on the short side by the scorecard but it plays longer and stronger than you think. The front side is a bit more open while the back can really challenge the driver with turning tight tree lined holes and narrowing landing areas. It is an old style course well laid out over wonderful terrain. We use to say the course was a bit tired and father time passed it by, but there has always be a lot of potential here. New management has brought the fun back to this Ben Zink design. An old adage says you can't build great courses anymore because all the good terrain is already spoken for. Some disagree, but having great terrain sure doesn't hurt. Berkshire Hills is blessed with mature trees, fine elevations and ample strategic hazards all in an environment free from residential crowding. It adds up to a fine round of golf that cannot be manufactured by a bulldozer. Credit has to be given to management for keeping the course in good shape without the property tax exemptions municipal courses enjoy or an income stream from a residential development. Green spaces like this are rare and locals should be thankful that it remains open and public. The new management has shown dedication to improvements to the general conditions of the course. They now roll the greens so you get a truer and faster putt. But the biggest improvement has  been  to the hole corridors. While the routing has remained the same, the lack of differentiation between fairways and rough is gone. Not only are the fairways in better shape, the rough is better and more penal as well. Not more bad-penal like in roots and ruts, but good-penal as in thicker and more plush. The improved contrast between rough and fairway not only aids in alignment but greatly improves the visual appeal of each hole against the curtain of trees. Pay close attention to landing areas from tees. They smartly give you the yardage on a placard to each hazard and failing to correctly process this information will likely lead to a dropped stroke or two. Good assortment of par 3s. Conditions are generally good but the cart paths need help. Can be walked but the elevations will take their toll. Six sets of tees joins Bershire Hills with other "tee it forward courses around the nation." Grass range. Max Yardage: 6689 Max Slope: 129. GCO Rating 71

     

BIG MET :  (440) 331-1070  18 holes in the Cleveland Metroparks built in 1926. The entire course was renovated in the spring of 1999 but not much changed design-wise.  New cart paths and some new tees were added but the main focus was drainage and a retention lake.   In 2006, a nice new clubhouse was opened. The course is located in the heart of west side Cleveland and the absence of any city life is refreshing. The course is teaming with  deer, turkeys and all that the Metroparks has to offer.  It is a pleasant walk, if, and that is a big if, it is not playing at a snail's pace. The greens have improved by being quicker and more consistent, hole to hole. But all in all, Big Met is an old style course from the days when not much thought was put into the design. Put a tee here and the green over there, cut the grass in between. When they did the renovation, they had a chance to update a lot of that but unfortunately, most of the design remains unchanged. There is some trouble with plenty of mature trees and a few bunkers but despite being surround on two sides by the Rocky River, the river never comes into play. The main resistance comes from the small greens with frequent fall offs on multiple sides.  Precise approaches shots are required and for the errant shot, a solid chipping game. Stay away from being over the greens, it is almost always a very bad proposition. Big Met remains one of the most played courses in the county and at prime times they always seem to be a half hour behind on their tee sheet. Then they'll blare out your name over the loudspeaker as if you are the one late for the tee time. The course is usually green and it survives the hot weather better than most due to the fact it lies in a cool valley and collects dew.  Its easy to walk with your longest walk being from your car to the clubhouse. Not very fair for women.  No range and a single chipping/putting green. Three sets of tees. Slope of 114 | 111 and yardage of 6481 | 6137. GCO Rating 52

 

BLACK BROOK :  (440) 951-0010  18 holes owned by the City of Mentor.  About 20 minutes east of the Rt.2 and I-90 interchange. Par 70 for men and par 73 for women. Much of the terrain is flat and the fairways plain. Fortunately, seven holes have some character where the elevations created by the small  basin of Phil's Creek come into play. Notably on the fine par 5 eighteenth hole where the fairway unfolds downhill to the layup zone short of the creek.  The small green is perched above the creek making it a risky proposition to go for in two. Two holes abut the massive marsh of Mentor which, unfortunately, is hidden from view. They should open up the view by trimming down some of the trees. Most holes run parallel to each other and it definitely tightens up on the back side where the old oaks crowd the fairways. It is a shortish course that seems to have been stretched out to its maximum but the tightness of several holes will take the driver out of many hands. Conditions are below average and some of the pushed up greens have mild mounding and little grassy depressions as part of the greens complexes. Four sets of tees but in reality just three since the fourth tee is for juniors and is just set out in the fairway. Driving range. Slope of: 117 | 116 | 118 | ? and yardage: 6211 | 5870 | 5398 | 3540. GCO Rating 45  

 

BLUE HERON : (330) 722-0227. NEWS FLASH:  Looks like they are going to combine the three nines and hash out eighteen holes.  We don't know what the new configuration or management is going to be like yet. Right now the whole dang thing is closed and it is a big question mark if it will ever open again.  Here is the old review:  27 holes in Medina, about 25 minutes south on I-71 from the I-480/I-71 interchange.  3.2  miles from the Rt.18 exit to the entrance.  The Highland and Lake nines opened in the summer of 2005 and the River nine opened in 2007. Conditions are down and hopefully they will improve as the course matures. There is no doubt that this is the very best terrain of any golf course in North East Ohio, and perhaps the most difficult to route a course over. You have stunning views from high elevations, deep gorges that must be negotiated, lakes to hit over, thick forests that eat wayward shots, it is all here. Plus, it seems the developer has given plenty of respect to this course with minimal housing.  Then there is the John Robinson design of the course itself.  A unique modern design with rolling and flowing fairways leading to many protected greens. Most people either love this course or hate it. Many forced carries from the tees and again to the greens, some quite daunting. May be to penal for many golfers and thus their pool of potential tees times may be more limited. As a result, some feel that has hurt the course financially and it is showing in the conditioning. They may try to soften the course here or there but it would take a lot of work. You can pretty much play every hole several different ways. Good positioning and strategy are highly rewarded here. Know your distances, especially from the tee. There is plenty of trouble out there, no matter the tees selected. To fully appreciate this course, you need to understand what Robinson has done. Each nine seems to plays a different tune and you need to dance to the tune that is playing. The Highlands nine is an absolute shotmakers nine where your driver should pretty much stay in the bag except for perhaps one or two holes, unless of course, you're playing from the tips. Its not that its too tight for a driver, just that perpendicular hazards lurk out there around 220 to 260 all the time, even from the blues. You will find yourself puddle jumping around the Highlands and if you play it that way, you will be fine. The Lakes nine lets you use the driver more, but you can score as well hitting a fairway metal most of the time so long as you keep it out of the water residing on seven holes.  The River nine has six holes on the other side of I-71 and is not some sort of spill over nine. It is every bit as strong as the first two nines. The first hole on the River might be the signature hole on the course where a hole opens over a gorge over a slight rise. River holes two and three are good holes to leave the driver in the bag even though you might think driver is the play. River hole two is noteworthy for the beautiful train bridge high over the narrow but extremely long green. The par four River seventh, called "temptation," is a good risk reward hole where a strong tee shot can carry the ridge all the way down to the receptive green complex.  Some long hitters get talked into playing the blue tees and then grumble about the configuration taking the driver out of their hands too much. They hit driver perhaps three times all day. They get a feeling the course is not well balanced. If you hit a driver more than 260 off the tee and are a mid-handicapper or better, suck it up and head to the tips. It is a totally different course from the tips and you might like it better. Besides, the tips play shorter than you think with lots of downhill tee shots ample fairways. For example, the par five Highland sixth hole is listed at 515 yards from the blues. However, the fairway runs out into a marsh at 230 yards. Step back to the black tees and its a whopping 609 yards but now you have plenty of room to bomb a driver plus the view is very cool. This scenario seems to play out over and over again, throughout the entire 27 holes. Perhaps the most difficult tee shot awaits all on the great par 5 Lakes first hole. A giant gorge protects the fairway from those trying to shorten the hole with a right sided shot.  But left is almost as bad because you might knock your tee shot straight into the woods. At Blue Heron, there is so much going on with each shots with incredible shot values that one can easy lose focus and let one's course management lapse. If that happens, you will pay. Good practice facilities and a GPS system on the cart. No walking. Conditions in recent times have seemed to reflect the troubled times we live in. It could be one of the best courses around, but not right now, there is some taming to do and  tee station tweaking, if they can manage to stay open. Highland/Lakes Yardage: 6932 | 6567 | 6229 | 5873 | 5031. Slope: 144 | 139 | 134 | 129 | 125. GCO Rating n/a

 

BOB-O-LINK (Avon) :  (440) 934-6217  36 holes of this mostly unimaginative course. Very, very flat and wide open. Sparse trees line most fairways. Some sand and water. Usually not in the best conditions and you can hardly tell where fairways end and the rough starts. the 4th nine, the Gold nine, just opened in 2008 and sports slightly more definition. GCO Rating 23

 

BOSTON HILLS : Closed as of November 2006. 

 

BOULDER CREEK :  (330) 626-2828  par 72 championship course located in Streetsboro, 30 minutes southeast of the I-77 and I-480 interchange using I-480 and Rt. 14.  Opening in 2002, this spectacular course lies in heavily wooded terrain with mature pines and oaks covering hills, marshes and deep lakes. No houses ! (cross your fingers)  From the second you step onto the first tee, you know your in for something special. While bunkered conservatively, there are plenty of grassy hollows and bumps in addition to the challenging terrain of water, elevation changes and mature pines to keep you on your toes. There are no lulls in this gem. Starting with hole number one, this great par 5 requires a good tee shot so that you can carry a large marsh on your second. An interesting split fairway at hole number 6 and a beautiful waterfall accompanies the par 3 seventh. You can actually see the par 4 ninth hole from the Ohio Turnpike. A long and accurate tee shot is preferred there because your second shot must carry a large lake and bunkers to get home in regulation. The grand golf opera finale occurs at the beautiful island par three 17th hole where wind always tricks you into under-clubbing. Then the monster 600 yard par 5 eighteenth where you will be rewarded you if you can get to the fairway downslope. This course requires every shot in your bag. Sometimes you need to work the ball left to right, other times right to left. At times you need length, others times strategy and accuracy. The course may appears difficult, but the architect has tried to build in forgiveness to make it enjoyable by all. Heavy rough and uneven lies makes keeping the ball in the fairway very important. Super fast and challenging putting surfaces with interesting green complexes. This course has fantastic drainage. Even after torrential rains the day before, carts were still allowed on the fairways at 90 degrees. Everything about this place is turning out to be first rate and it has already earned high national accolades.  It is reassuring to see the owner actively tweaking the course to make it all it can be. Within a short period of time, the golf gods willing, this can become a premier destination in the Midwest. Great grass range. Five sets of tees. Yardage:  7402 | 6933 | 6392 | 5586 | 5048. Slope: 140 | 135 | 128 | 119 | 123. GCO Rating 91

 

BRANDYWINE :  (330) 657-2525  18 regulation holes and a nine hole par three course located in Peninsula. A very interesting course that plays like a Jekyll and Hyde course. The first nine has mild rolling hills and trees. But the ninth hole gives you a taste of what's to come with a wonderfully high par 3 which drops off over a pond to the green. Then the back nine takes off into the woods, up and down steep fairways and valleys and is much tougher than the front. The back nine has the famous "Z hole" par 5 which is, of course, shaped like a Z. It lies in a deep valley so you have to make your shots and there are no short cuts. Slope of 113 and yardage of 6,470. GCO Rating 60

 

BRENTWOOD :  (440) 322-9254  18 hole par 70 course located in Grafton, about twenty minutes from Hopkins Intn'l Airport using I-480 and Rt. 10. Even though it is only a par 70, it still has four par 5s. The yardage seem short but you must bear in mind that this course has six par 3s. Mostly flat with no sand traps, this uneventful course is not usually to crowded and fair in price.  A sort of t-shirt and tennis shoes golf course if you know what we mean. Creeks, small pines and mature trees factor into the layout. The greens are relatively nice compared to the rest of the course. The best hole is the par 5 ninth, which has a nice, slightly downhill, tee shot around a large tree to a depression bordered on two sides by a creek. Your second shot it uphill, over the creek to a reachable green. Some of the holes here are really crowded in on each other and  you often find balls from other fairways on your own. Three sets of tees. Yardage of 5148 | 4695 | 4223. GCO Rating 42

 

BRIARDALE GREENS :  (216) 289-8574  18 hole par 70 municipal golf in Euclid.  Other than being conveniently located a half a mile from the I-90 and Babbit Rd. exit, this course does not offer much. Completely flat and very wide open.  Only one hole, the par four 10th, is tight. About 3 holes have some water to consider. Unfortunately, you get the feeling of playing in a prison with all the tall golf ball retention fences at this place.  You got giant decaying fences protecting housing and you also have those giant eyesores around the range which is on the inside of the golf course.  About the only redeeming feature here is that the well kept greens are elevated a few feet and well bunkered, making approaches interesting and putting fairly true. Conditions are a slightly below average and the greens are traditional in shape. Slope of 122 | 119 | 108 and yardage of 6058 | 5723 | 4932. GCO Rating 47

 

BRIARWOOD :  (440) 237-5271  18 regulation holes and a nine hole short course located in Broadview Hts., about fifteen minutes from the I-480 and I-77 interchange. The short red course is at its max only 2,960 yards and is like the rest of the course. The regulation 18 (red-white) has a good amount of elevation changes, some tight tree-lined holes, two fairways with a single tree in the middle of two fairways. Not heavily trapped and little water. Water does however makes 9 and 18 nice finishing holes. Most players find the trouble is from the tightness of some holes. There are some interesting holes on this old style Cleveland parkland course. Most holes run parallel to each other and the course has only the 150 and some 100 yard markers. Conditions are below average and the greens are slow but with some undulations. Three sets of tees. Slope of 125 | 119 and yardage of 6985 | 6330.   GCO Rating 52

 

BROOKLEDGE :  (330) 971-8416  A very pleasant and well maintained 18 hole par 71 Muny course in Cuyahoga Falls, about 40 minutes from Cleveland and only 24 minutes from the I-80 / I-77 interchange. Actually re-designed by renowned golf course architect Arthur Hills, but the re-design only hints at his genius. Nevertheless, this is a good example of how a dogtrack can be made into a fine public course. They used to have only three par 5s but in 2007, hole eleven was lengthened with a nice elevated tee box making for a nice improvement. The par 5 seventh is particularly notable for its slow dogleg right which culminates with a semi-blind, plateau green. All the par 3s are good with each becoming more daunting, culminating in the tough 14th hole which is 197 yard from the tips and with lots of trouble to look at. A good assortment of short dogleg par fours. A great beginning par five to start with provides your best opportunity for birdie.  The closing par 4 hole is tough to gage since a big drive can reach the hazard. Most will layup with a fairway metal or hybrid, but you can gamble with your driver if the wind is against you. All in all, a surprisingly well conditioned course with a good layout and good greens. Some nice elevation changes and a little modern contouring. Most of the holes are separated from others by thin tree lines and some wild areas, but there is also a good bit of heavy woods on a few holes to deal with. In recent years, they have let more areas of tall wild grass grow in which tends to adds to the aesthetics and challenge to the course. Decent value. Grass range. Four sets of tees. Slope of ? | ? | ? |  ? and yardage of 6371 | 5861 | 5401 | 4786. GCO Rating 73

 

BRUNSWICK HILLS :  (330) 225-7370  18 regulation holes on Rt. 303, 5 minutes west of I-71. The front nine is on the flat, open and boring side save hole 7 and 9 where water and small valleys come into play on your tee shots. The sparse tree lined holes provide little challenge to errant shots. The back is far more difficult where the holes are routed through tight wooded valleys with elevation changes, creeks and forced carries. It is easy to give up a few strokes on the back. The meandering creeks throughout the course always seem to affect your tee shots calculations. The course is poorly marked with no guidance from the tees. It is advisable to looking a few holes ahead to figure how much club you can take on future tee shots. At least there is no housing on the course. The course usually is below average in conditioning with more than a few bare spots and it seems particularly prone to suffering in dry times. Small saucer shaped greens means your approach shots need to be particularly accurate. The par four 12th is the signature hole where a long and accurate drive is required to set up a middle iron down to a scenic green tucked into the valley and protected by a creek and bunker. It also happens to be the number one handicap hole and with O.B. down the right and trouble down the left. It is the only green which isn't a tiny saucer and actually has three distance levels. Three sets of tees. Slope of 119 and yardage of 6,538. GCO Rating 47

 

BUNKER HILL :  (330) 722-4174  Par 72, 18 holes located in Medina, just about eight minutes from I-71. Some real great holes with big hills and water. Holes number 12 and 13 are newly remodeled and feel a little like Myrtle Beach holes. Other holes have been lengthened and improved. Lots of elevation changes. Great finishing holes which provide a great deal of challenge and club selection at 9 and 18. They run down into a tightly wooded landing area where the second and third shots have to carry creeks to elevated greens. Just two or three average holes keep this course from being a real favorite. Course seems to be under constant improvement and it has a new three story clubhouse. A mix of modern greens and turtle backs. Lots of trouble with slow play and useless rangers can put a serious damper on an otherwise nice course. Five plus hour rounds are not unusual and they don't seem to care. Yardage of 6467 | 5906 and slope of 110 | 110. GCO Rating 72

 

CHEROKEE HILLS (a.k.a. COPPERTOP AT CHEROKEE HILLS) :  (330) 225-6122  Par 70 located in Valley City, 5 miles west of I-71 on Rt. 303. While this course is by no means a championship course or with championship conditions, it can be fun to play. Unlike most course, they allow tank tops, gym shorts, cutoffs, blue jeans and so on, so you sort of get the idea who plays here. The expression is believed to be "Bruntucky."  There are to few creative holes and too many run straight to the green separated by thin tree cover.  There are some nice elevations here, primarily caused by the meandering creeks which have carved out deep valleys. The creeks have an unusual industrial look of being hemmed in with massive concrete retaining blocks. A few lakes add character to the layout but be warned that a slightly wayward driver can easily find water on holes thirteen and sixteen where the hazard is not visible from the tee. From the tips the course is barely 6300 and with just two par 5s. Most would consider the course a tad short by today's standards and driver-wedge driver-wedge is what the more accomplished golfer will face. The greens are the most deceiving part of the course. Most  look simple enough, just sort of pushed up at the end of the fairway. But many have sneaky false fronts and the sides and backs fall off very quickly. And when the greens get firm, unfamiliar golfers will see balls annoyingly run off the greens. There are some solid holes and they seem to update a hole here and there every few years which is a good thing. The par 4 third hole was nicely remodeled into a high elevation tee that hits down over water into a tight doglegging fairway protected by a tree on the left and mounds on the right. A nice new green complex  was added  across a creek on hole ten which lengthened the hole by at least 80 yards and made it a second shot hole where formerly it was drivable. The favorite holes hole might be the par 5 fifteenth where a big drive allows the green to be reached in two. However, the fairway drops off steeply  in the driving zone so a balanced attack is required. If you chose to play it safe, layup to the blind fairway short of the  creek in the valley. The old barn-clubhouse was remodeled and expanded into the new signature copper roof facility. No range. Slopes 119 | 115 | 110 | 112   and yardage 6210 | 5900 | 5582 | 4920. GCO Rating 53

   

CHARDON LAKES :  (440) 285-4653  18 holes on a decent layout with rolling terrain and some slight elevation changes. There really aren't any lakes here, just a few ponds and a lot of creeks.  The fairways are relatively flat with little undulation but you will find a lot of dissecting creeks, plenty of trees and no housing. There is a good bit of bunkering here and a lot of great classic designed holes. They are a few holes that could use some updating but the overall experience here is pretty positive.  From the back tees you will find several challenging tee shots through tight "Augusta like" tree alleys to fairways whose width is hidden from view. Conditions are a little above average, but the old style, heavily soil based fairways and greens can suffer from to much play and less than ideal drainage. These saucer shaped smallish greens feature a lot of tilt and roll where being below the cup is pretty good advice. Even with medium speed greens, putting is no picnic and things seem to break more than you expect. The par 4 sixth is a good wager hole featuring a tight snaking driving hole with a creek right and heavy tree cover left making double bogey easy. They claim the final three holes are as tough a stretch as you will find anywhere and they might be right. Sixteen is a long dogleg left par four where a sufficiently long tee shot is required to reach the corner just to get a long iron in to a heavily wooded and protected green. Many find themselves laying up. Eighteen is an extremely long beast of a par four where even solid drives could require a three metal just out reach the green. Four sets of tees. Back and Men's slopes of 136 | 129 | 120 | 120 and yardage of 6799 | 6186 | 5514 | 4875. GCO Rating 64

 

CHIPPEWA :  (330) 658-6126  Par 71 18 hole course located in Doylestown, 25 minutes south of the I-80 / I-77 interchange, off of  Rt. 21. With a name like Chippewa, you would expect a real dogtrack.  However, this is a good course that is very well maintained, containing a good assortment of holes and nice speedy greens.  While mostly open, there are a few tight spots where club selection is critical. Particularly the beautiful par four 14th and 16th, where drivers may end up in ponds fronting these greens and 15 which is arguably the toughest tee shot on the course. This is the so called "Bermuda Triangle" of holes where you can easily blow up. There are powerlines and towers that may come into play on a few holes, but thankfully, under the rules of golf, you rehit if you strike these obtrusions.  Good elevations changes, especially on the back nine as well as good green complexes which feature bunkers and grassy hollows.   Three sets of tees and range. Slopes of 119 | 116 | 109 and yardage of 6543 | 6101| 4974.   GCO Rating 67

 

CREEKWOOD :  (440) 748-3188  18 holes on a decent but flat course. As the name implies, creeks and woods come into play here. A couple of forced carries and some water. Very short with many wide open holes. The back nine has a few tight spots with narrow fairways and overhanging trees where club control is very important. It always seems that one green is under construction at this course. Recent drainage and sprinkler system additions have improved the course. Conditions are below average and the greens are average. Sixteen has been improved with the removal of the tree which blocked your tee shot. Many young trees have also been planted a few years ago on some of the wide open holes to make the course more challenging. Most greens follow the same blueprint, slightly pushed up smallish saucers leaning back to front. A few bunkers here and there but all in all, nothing all that noteworthy here. Creekwood is frequented by the higher handicaps and the kegger outings.  The grill does makes some decent brats and burgers. Three sets of tees with an occasional 4th back tee.  New grass range. Slopes of 116 | 112 and yardage of 6139 | 5158| 4693.    GCO Rating 49

 

DEER RIDGE :  (419) 886-7090  This par 72 championship course is located in the Mansfield area. This unique course is a haul from Cleveland, an hour and fifteen minutes from Hopkins Airport using I-71. But it's right off the highway at exit 165 and even visible on the east side of I-71. Despite the long drive, it's worth the ride, and very affordable. This is another gem by local golf architect Brian Huntley. Like his excellent work at Eagle Creek, this 1999 championship layout has championship conditions. His conservative modern design fits the land wonderfully without being too flashy or contrived. His well thought out holes utilize the land without much earth moving. This course, like Eagle Creek, is extracted from the land, not imposed upon it. Unlike Eagle Creek, this course has the most elevation changes of any course in all Northern Ohio. You will experience some breathtaking holes throughout this heavily wooded course. There is a slight reprieve on the back nine from the elevations, which then leads you to a fantastic finish. Perhaps the most spectacular hole is the par 5 16th which requires a forced carry over a gorge. If your drive is long enough, you will be generously rewarded as your ball cascades down the shaved slope opening to the approach of the green. Then there is very cool finish at 18 which is reminiscent of a Robert Trent Jones trademark uphill par 4. If the elevation changes don't add a few strokes to your score, the very tough and fast greens are likely too. Four sets of tees. Range and GPS on the carts. Yardages of 6584 | 6081 | 5518 | 4791. Slopes of 129 | 123 | 117 | 115.    GCO Rating 88

DEER TRACK (now known as AMHERST):  (440) 986-5881  

DORLON :  (440) 236-8234  18 mostly flat and unremarkable holes in Columbia Station. The course is rather long and straight. You feel more like your walking in a park instead of being on a golf course. Some water and sand. Very sparse trees line most fairways. Most of the water seems to lies just out of play unless you have some real bad shots. The course would have been more interesting if the water was just 30 yards closer to the fairways on most holes. The rough and fairways blend together. Course conditions are poor. Four sets of tees and the greens are average. Slope of 125 and yardage of 7,154. GCO Rating 18

 

DRAGON RANCH (formerly Deer Track, formerly Amherst) :  (440) 986-5881  Par 71-18 hole public course located on Rt. 58, just north of Oberlin, about 35 minutes east of Cleveland using I-90 and Rt. 2. Opening in 1989. While the course is dead flat, it has extensive mounding and 21 sand traps to create some definition.  The mounding of the rough creates an image of  grassy warts rather than the intended flowing terrain.  A few big lakes and ponds come into play on 8 holes. Some tight wooded holes as well.  The greens have some minor undulation. A couple of real fine holes and more than a few boring ones. Sort of reminds you of a cheap Myrtle Beach course, just no where as nice. Fairways and green have average conditions, but there are plenty of bare spots, particularly the rough.   Several fairways are so close to each other that your are in danger of wayward tee shots from the adjacent holes.   Open year round. Four sets of tees although it really looks like only three. Slope of 126 | 123 | 114 | 116 and yardage of 6480 | 6183 | 5387 | 5118. GCO Rating 53

 

EAGLE CREEK :  (419) 668-8535  18 hole par 71 championship course in Norwalk Ohio.  About one hour west of Hopkins Airport, using Rt. 10 and Rt 20. Near the Norwalk Raceway. One of the area's best kept secrets, the Brian Huntley layout and design is superb and no two holes are the same. It used to be a old nine hole course that was renovated in 1995 into one of the areas best courses with the addition of more land. Some beautiful new homes being built on a few holes but not interfering with the course or its aesthetics. Once we played following a few days of rain and this was the first time I was told to keep the carts "in the fairways." Apparently the drainage is that good in the fairways. Excellent first and finishing holes. Not too punishing, but offering a very good challenge. Nice moderate, rolling elevation changes. Some very scenic and grip it and rip it tee shot opportunities especially at the par five 18th where a big drive is required if you are going to try to get home in two. A good driving course which often requires you to move the ball one way or the other. The par four 15th hole is perhaps the most underrated in difficulty. You need a great tee shot to shave off as much of the corner as you can or you will be over 200 yards out to a tough green. The trouble is that on the inside of the dog leg there resides a nasty pond which is tough to carry from any tee, and hitting to long straight away you will be either blocked out in the trees or in the hidden pond behind the fairway. Very well marked with excellent fast, undulated greens. Usually a good value with excellent conditions.  In 2004, two bunkers were added on hole 17 on the left side of the fairway, giving added definition and a nice target. Nice grass range. Four sets of tees. Slope of 126 | 122 | 117 | 116 and yardage of 6603 | 6234 | 5835 | 4908. GCO Rating 85

 

ECHO VALLEY :  (440) 647-2065  18 holes par 71 course located six mile south of Rt. 20, in Wellington, about 36 minutes west of the Cleveland Hopkins Airport.  The course lies in a rather large valley and the conditions, particularly the tee boxes in spots, leave a lot to be desired.  The fairways need some help too.  The greens are bit smallish and hard to hold, but are surprisingly good and on the modern side. Most of the greens appear pushed up with a few cut into the hillsides.  Eight or so small bunkers. The front side is a bit easier and more open, but has several blind tee shots where water lurks.  The back side tightens up dramatically.  The course is on the short side, but you may well chose to leave your driver in the bag on a good number of tight driving holes. Where you dare to drive the ball, the play is to shape your shot left or right, often through chutes of tall, mature trees. Lots of tree cover, dramatic elevation changes and a good deal of water to contend with.  These factors can easily lead to big numbers, even on short holes, if your do not keep it in the short stuff.  They appear to be trying to add some length and improve some tee boxes.  Pace of play is usually very good and the price is right for this lazy farmer's track.  Call before your go, they have lots of outings, sometimes are closed, and "don't take no tee times."  Only three sets of tees. Slope unavailable and yardage of 6110 | 5278. GCO Rating 42

 

ELLSWORTH MEADOWS :  (330) 656-2103 18 hole par 71 course located in Hudson, about a 15 minute ride from the I-80 / I-77 interchange. Just a short ride off of State Rt. 8.  An older style course that the City of Hudson acquired in 1997 to preserve the "green space" and make renovations. Big renovations occurred in 2003 and 2004 under the auspices of former Arthur Hills assistant, Brian Huntley. The gentle rolling terrain contains tree lined holes with a good bit of wild grass expanses. There are also several sneaky creek beds meandering about the course.  The changes brought several brand new holes, some new greens, new tee boxes, improved routing and the customary improvements such as drainage, contouring, and lengthening. The many changes are much appreciated and keeps the course current with the modern golfer.  We just wish all the holes were renovated to keep the course seamless but we'll take what we can get. The old greens were a bit smallish and the new rebuilt greens keep with that theme. The greens complexes themselves are not overly penal and the bunkering is conservative providing you reasonable opportunities to get up and down.  The five par 3s could have been more varied and tend to slow play. Hole eight, the number one handicap hole, troubles everyone. It is a long par 4 which requires a serious drawn just to hit the narrow fairway with a driver. Too far left and your out-of-bounds, too far right, where almost everyone ends up, gets you blocked by trees. Perhaps the best advice is to take you medicine with a long iron off the tee and on the approach. You will immediately recognize Huntley's work from holes 10 and 11. But the reachable par 5 seventeenth, which snakes around a lake, is the most interesting.  A big reward could await those that manage a long tee shot down the middle but be cautious since the fairway runs out at about 150 yards in.  A long tee shot sets up a mid iron approach over the lake leading to a reasonable chance at birdie or even eagle. Eighteen plays longer than you expect but beware of the two collection ponds on each side of the fairway. They can be reached by the longest of hitters. Course conditions are good with a great grass range and practice facility. Four sets of tees. Slope 133 | 127 | 124 | 124 and yardage 6831 | 6367 | 6003 | 4920  GCO Rating 77

 

EMERALD WOODS :  (440) 236-8940  36 hole hack-a-round in Columbia Station. Out of the entire 36 holes, only a few holes have potential. Relatively flat with generally below average conditions. Very few bunkers and some water hazards. Price is somewhat high for this type of course. The Audrey's/Heatherstone par 70 eighteen is somewhat open and the Pine Valley/St.Andrews par 72 eighteen has trees and tighter holes. Audrey's/Heatherstone yardage of 6673 | 6165 | 5295. Pine Valley/St.Andrews yardage of 6629 | 6058 | 5080. GCO Rating 34

 

FOREST HILLS :  (440) 323-2632  18 hole Lorain County Metro golf course located in Elyria, 20 minutes west of Hopkins Airport using I-480 and Rt 10. While only a par 70 with only two par 5s, the course has some charm. The par 4 number 2 is the favorite with a downhill tee shot followed by a nice wedge over water. Many par 4s are just straight away and open, but there is a little elevation change and some doglegs. Also some nice wooded holes. Conditions are a little above average and the course is not too crowed.  However, on a busy morning, there is an incredible backup a few holes deep into the front nine that will spoil your mood.  Greens are good, your typical medium pace metro style with little undulation. Only a handful of poor quality sand traps to manage and water comes into play only three times. Price is reasonable. Some new tee boxes in 2001. 2 to 3 sets of tees, yardage of 6255 | 5228. GCO Rating 55  

 

FOWLER'S MILL :  (440) 729-7569  18 championship holes designed by Pete Dye and a 9 hole short course (2,985 yards). Located in Chesterland, about 35 minutes east of downtown Cleveland. A beautiful, natural and classic layout with excellent conditions. No gimmicks here, just great golf and no two holes alike. Although first opening in 1970, the Pete Dye design is timeless. It has the feel of a classic mature course with all the dangers and options of modern designs. A few undulations in the greens, but plenty of slope and roll. In 2009 they started to roll the greens and now they roll better than ever. Absolutely scenic with wonderful mature trees. Great clubhouse and decent practice facilities. Still probably one of the top courses in town and getting extra points for tradition.  The Pete Dye 18 is definitely the better of the 27 but the third 9 has its own charm. Plenty of sand of water which includes a lake and numerous creeks and marshes. Wonderful natural elevation changes and split fairways. Also signature Pete Dye railroad ties and deep greenside grass hollows. Excellent starting hole to get rolling. The par 4 cape fourth is perhaps the most famous hole here where the entire holes wraps around an intimidating lake. The tee shot and approach usually have to flirt with danger and the closer you can keep your tee shot to the water, the less water you have to hit over on your approach. Chose the split fairway on the par 4 ninth that best fits your approach for that day's pin. Hole 11 appears to be a cupcake par 4 but beware, in typical Dye fashion, the tee shot is deceptively dangerous with a small and very undulated green which requires precise wedgeplay. It provides a great chance for birdie, especially if you can hit a nice fade which leaves an unobstructed look into the green. But more often than not, balls are pushed out to the left and blocked by trees or sliced far right which is either in the woods or O.B. The par 5 eighteenth has a slightly downhill tee shot with a long, slow dogleg left to the elevated green. Position is key on your tee shot or you will have to lay up around the corner and have a long third to the green. Beware of the bunkers waiting on both sides to snag any misplayed shots and do not play any lay up shots through the fairways on the right or the trees will block your approach. Four sets of tees. Yardage of 7002 | 6623 | 5873 | 5815 and slopes of 136 | 133 | 118 | 118. GCO Rating 90

 

FOX CREEK :  (440) 282-9106  18 holes located about 45 minutes west of Cleveland in the City of Lorain. This used to be a private course that opened in the 1950s and is now open to the public. This course is a par 71 for the men and 73 for the ladies. Conditions do not resemble the days of private ownership but this is still a decent track. Either the teeing area is elevated or the green sits on a pedestal, but never both. The course lies in a valley with river and water hazards commonly coming into play. Some sand, generally flat fairways and average greens. This is a fun course to let shaft out on and your can be rewarded for your bravery or punished for your foolishness. Two tough, back to back par 5s at 12 and 13 will test your game. Yardage of 6397 | 6000 | 5357 and slope of 131 | 127 | 124. GCO Rating 60

 

GLENEAGLES :  (330) 425-3334  18 hole course in Twinsburg, 20 minutes west of I-77 and the I-480 interchange. A very nice, modern course inside of a residential development. Opening in 1996, it has matured very nicely. An enjoyable starting hole with a blind shot tee shot on the opening shortish par 4 and a decent finishing hole with a very good green complex on the par 4 eighteenth. Most of the holes are separated from other holes by woods and the new homes are not too close to the course. Nice contouring and moderate mounding. There are lots of creeks, 25 sand traps and a fair amount of elevation changes. Several ponds add to the interesting design of this solid track. The greens here are relatively fast with a lot of sneaky undulation. The par four hole 9 is the most scenic. You must have an accurate and long tee shot to a dangerous landing area from which your second shot must carry a small lake to a protected green. The front nine is tighter and more of a shot makers nine. The back nine gives you more opportunity to rip a long one. While the course conditions are very nice, the blue tee are at times lumpy making it tough to find a comfortable setup. grass and mat range. Four sets of tees. Yardages of 6545 | 5918 | 5357 | 5147. Slopes of 121 | 118 | 111 | 115. GCO Rating 72

 

GRANDVIEW : (440) 834-1824  Rumor is that the course may be closing.  Par 70 (par 72  for ladies) country track located 45 minutes east of Cleveland in Amish Country.  Course conditions are fair with some areas of the fairway underwatered making them cement-like. Not long with eight par 4 holes in the 300 to 400 yard range and only one par 5 hole in the 500 to 600 yard range, making it an easy course for the long hitting golfer. The course layout is wooded with some breathtaking vistas in a peaceful country setting. The course does offer some challenging holes, particularly the par 3 fifth hole uphill with woods on the left, and par 3 tenth hole which requires you to clear a lake to the green and the par 5 eleventh hole which doglegs right with OB on the inside. The quaint course offers a good, golf all day, special for adults and juniors making it a worthwhile trip for prudent golfers. Yardage 6113 | 5914 | 5451 Slope 115 | 110 | 114.  GCO Rating 54

 

GRANTWOOD :  (440) 248-4646  18 hole par 71 golf course located in Solon, 20 minutes west of the I-77 and I-480 interchange. This municipal course, owned by the City of Solon, is a wonderful and well laid out course. It serves as a fine example of how a city can take over an old course, rehabilitate it and provide a quality course for its citizens to enjoy while also preserving the green spaces which are rapidly being over developed these days. This course has no residential housing  but a train track does dissects it.  This course has a modern feel with subtle contouring while still retaining smallish greens.  It seems most greens are hard against hazards, hanging or pedestalled.  You will need a good short game here.  The course has gentle rolling fairways and some elevations, but the most prevalent hazards are the many creeks which can cause perilous tee shots. There are more than a few holes where position and distance control off the tee are imperative.  Decent conditions, but drainage could use some improvement.  Nice grass range. Four sets of tees. Yardages of 6429 | 6203 | 5645 | 5106. Slopes of 123 | 120 | 114 | 120. GCO Rating 67

 

GREY HAWK :  (440) 355-4844 Once a top ten course in north east Ohio but downgraded in 2012. Serious problem had developed with the conditions on the fairways but hard work from the greens keeping crew has saved the day and now they are for the most part, just fine. The greens have always been excellent and within a short period of time, the fairways will be on par with the greens. Grey Hawk is a par 72 championship golf course located in Lagrange, 22 minutes west of Hopkins Airport, the entrance is off of Rt. 301, only 4.7 miles south of Rt.20/10.  A modern masterpiece from the Von Hagge design team which first opened in August of 2004. The layout is nothing short of spectacular. Like it's sister course, Red Tail (now private), Von Hagge demonstrates how to dramatically use a bulldozer while not being too contrived. Ten very deep lakes were needed to get the material for the extensive mounding and contouring you'll find here, but the course does not resemble a manufactured Florida style course. Only three holes play through mature trees and some young trees have been planted throughout. There is no mistaking this course, it is a modern links style course where wind is always a factor. Here you will need to contend with over 82 bunkers, rough with difficult lies and tall grasses, bordering and dissecting lakes and streams and plenty of manufactured elevation changes. The course is tough and plays longer than indicated due to many raised and plateaued greens. The difficulty increases geometrically with the wind. Every green complex presents something interesting with a fair amount of undulation as well as tricky collection areas and grassy hollows. The par 4 third hole green is completely surrounded by sand.  Only play driver on holes 7,8 and 9 if you are swinging incredibly that day. You like par 5s? You get five stunning and varied par 5s which test your power, placement and courage. You will also find five beautiful but deadly par 3s, especially the signature island green at number 11. Bring plenty of balls to his course. The course resides in a new residential community and many for the most part the homes are out of play. The mass of housing being built with its accompanying white stakes, detracts from this wonderful design and compromises the actual "links" design, somewhat. If you build a course with no trees to showcase a windy "links" style course, stuffing tons of houses in between the holes sort of defeats the purpose of having no trees. I'll take trees over houses any day. But in this day and age, if it takes housing to have a course like this, well that's the deal you have to make.  If you're a railroad buff and a golfer, this may be your paradise. Great modern clubhouse and full practice facility including grass range. Five sets of tees. Yardages: 7079 | 6687 | 6240 | 5711 | 5091. Slopes:  137 | 132 | 126 | 119 | 118. GCO Rating 74

 

HAWKS NEST :  (330) 435-4611  18 championship holes in Creston, located about 50 minutes south of Cleveland using mostly I-71 or I-271. Without a doubt one of the finest courses in the area. This 1993 design is the brainchild of Steve Burns who once worked with the Fazio Design group.  While the course lies in the in the middle of farm country, the terrain is surprisingly perfect for golf. Undoubtedly one of the best values in all Ohio and not to hard to walk. Every hole is a pure pleasure to play. Some of the holes play through a thick forest with great elevation changes and greens protected by creeks. Some holes play like true Scottish links, with mounding, wild grasses and rolling fairways. Even though a few holes are adjacent to each other, there is an extreme usage of the rough areas and elevations to create a feeling of privacy and solitude everywhere. Overall conditions are very good to sometimes excellent. No two holes are the same and alternate strategies can usually be employed.  A good example is the short par 4 fourteenth. It is drivable, but the downhill green is seriously protected and only the very best should have a go. The rest of us should lay up, but where? If the pin is on the right side of the green, the best is to layup to the left side and vice-a-versa. Hit enough club to reach the flat short of the hazard and it is an easy pitch. Another approach is to lay back a bit and target the 100 yard marker where there is also a flat spot. From there a well struck wedge can have enough spin and utilize the backstop, drawing the ball back to the pin in pro-fashion. Greens are usually fast and in good condition with a good deal of undulations and tiering. The original owners sold the property to a group sponsored by the Ohio State University, so they have some financial backing. With that they have undertaken a scheme to repair and renovate all the bunkers and the project is going along nicely. A few bunker still need some work but we are confident they will get to them. The only complaint we have it the removal of several bunkers, notably two from the par 5 sixteenth, one in play from the tee on the left and a target bunker in the layup area. They claim that they did not get much play and cost to much to maintain.  In these tough golf times, it is hard to argue finances, but they were important from an alignment, depth perception and aesthetic perspective. Please don't remove any more bunkers. Great grass range. Four sets of tees. Slope of 124 | 121 | 116 | 110 and yardage of  6680 | 6200 | 5691 | 4767. GCO Rating 86

 

HAWTHORNE VALLEY :  (440) 232-8880  A 1926 par 70 classic Donald Ross gem located in Aurora. Formerly a country club, it began accepting public play in 2010. How fortunate we are in Cleveland to have two Donald Ross golf courses to play, and this one right in Solon, easily accessible from all major highways. Like Manakiki, there are a lot of hand cut nuances around the tiny greens and carefully plowed fairway contours. The par 4 tenth is a great example of the architect's ingenuity in a few square yards of grass. You think after a solid drive you have a simple pitch into the green but you don't realize the fronting bunker gives the illusion of proximity and obscures a mini hollow just short of the green which actually sits lower than your mind calculates. Those that fall for the Ross trap find that approaches to front pins unexpectedly end up short in the hollow and shots to a back pin shockingly end up long.  They did not have massive dirt movers in the day so they had to rely mostly on mules and the terrain. And great terrain they have. The old adage that all the good sites for golf courses were used up decades ago might have been referring to places like this. Unlike Manakiki, which has made tremendous strides to keep with the golfing times, Hawthorne Valley could use some updating. Regardless, golfing in this environment of gorgeous trees and ample vegetation in a lush quiet valley with no homes or highways to distract remains a blessed rarity in modern golf. It also remains a strong and complete test of all aspects of your game. It is definitely not a driver-wedge course. Don't let the yardage fool you, 6500 yards for a par 70 is plenty long and this baby is tight. You must be able to put it in the fairway yet the length still forces most golfers into driver. If you manage to find the fairway on this exceptionally tight tree lined course, don't expect many flip wedges into the tiny greens. The par 5 thirteen has a large hill protecting the inside of the sharp right dogleg. A big drive can carry the corner and leave you with just an iron into a receptive green. Having just two par fives is a bit of a negative. Grass range. Slope 132 | 129 | 126 | 128 and yardage 6533 | 6330 | 6090 | 5636. GCO Rating 82  

 

HEMLOCK SPRINGS :  (800) 436-5625  18 holes in Geneva, 32 minutes west of I-90 and the I-271 interchange, only 4.4 miles from the highway. Completed in 1965, this Ben Zink design is a traditional course that can be enjoyed by all levels of play. Driving in past the wineries, you get a sense there could be a nice hidden gem back here in the eastern hills. Sure enough, the course occupies some very nice terrain, free from residential developments. There is just something special about the massive Weeping Willows they have on this golf course. Standing alone they can define an entire hole. The course as is a good test for your driver with a nice mix of tight tree lined holes and more open ones. There isn't much in the way bunkers to navigate from the tee, but the matures trees can really narrow the fairways and sometimes a creek can shorten your landing zone. On some holes you ought to consider another club when you are not driving your best. Other times, the holes beg you to just bomb it. The conditions are average throughout and like many older courses, the rough can suffer a bit with the dry hot season. But the traditional greens are clearly the grounds crew's priority and they keep them in very nice shape that putt pretty true. The medium to small greens are conservatively bunked and slightly elevated from the fairways. There are clearly areas where you don't want to be if you miss these green. Beyond the greens sloping mostly from back to front, there is also usually a high and low shoulder which complicates chips from the wrong spots. When they have the greens rolling, some of the heavy tilting can be daunting. They say the par 3 eleventh is their signature hole and rightfully so with beautiful landscaping and a great looking long iron tee shot over a pond to a difficult green. But we liked the scenic par 4 sixth and the par 4 thirteenth best. Beware of the lurking water on hole thirteen, it lies on the right side of the landing area, hidden from view. A fairly struck drive just slightly down the right rough can find the hazard  A very solid and sweeping par 5 awaits the conclusion of your round.  Even though the lake on the right is not really in play, it still seems to get its share of visitors. They could use more yardage markers. Even with the elevations here, it is still a walkable course. In these days of residential development golf courses, a total golf property like Hemlock Springs is sadly becoming a rarity. Small range available. Four sets of tees. Yardages of 6812 | 6520 | 5990 | 5381. Slopes of 129 | 127 | 124 | 116.   GO Rating 67

 

HICKORY NUT : (440) 236-8008  18 parkland holes located in Columbia Station, on Rt.82, 4 miles west of I-71. A shortish par 71 course over most flat terrain with some subtle contouring. The diminutive clubhouse sort of tells you this round is budget friendly. All the greens are basically slightly pushed up from the fairway and the medium small size is more difficult to hit than you expect. There underlying conditions are generally below average and basically either too hard or too soft most of the year. Probably due to the lack of good drainage and quality golf soils. The fairways are sometimes hard to differentiate from the rough. But they have been improving what they can  and conditions are indeed better than they have been in years. To be straight about things, this is not a course to impress your client or have a top notch tournament at.  They don't pretend  to be that. It is a decent place to get in a bargain round away from highways and housing. The thick mature tree strands serve as the main defense here, challenge you to keep it straight off the tee on more than a few holes. Where the forest does not pinch in, thin tree lined holes let you swing away. With no housing on the course, which is a good thing, you would have though there would be less o.b., which is not as good a thing. There are some bunkers that help with definition and few small ponds come into play. The score cards shows four sets of tees, but in reality, most holes have two tee stations Short grass range available. Yardage of 6369 | 6055 | 5486 | 5266. Slopes of 120 | 116 | 110 | 112. GO Rating 37

 

HIGHLAND PARK : (216) 348-7273  36 low quality holes at the corner of Green and Chagrin right in the heart of East-side Cleveland. While it is located in the City of Highland Hills, it is actually owned, unfortunately, by the City of Cleveland.  A convenient location and decent terrain helps, but conditions are way below standard at this 1920'S design. Very sparsely lined fairways which are not really distinguishable from the rough. Stupid looking sand traps which seem to be just an afterthought. Some are thirty yards long but only one yard wide. The Red course is shorter and seems to get more play by the nines because it turns at the clubhouse. The Blue course is a bit more challenging and longer but does not turn at the clubhouse.  The rough and fairways blend together. Course conditions are poor. Three sets of tees and the greens are slightly below average. Blue Course Yardage 6740 | 6562 |  5589 Blue Course Slope 119 | 125(L). Red Course Yardage 6322 |  6090 | 5416 Red Course Slope 113 | 119(L). GCO Rating 19

 

HILLIARD LAKES :  (440) 871-9578  18 holes located in Westlake. Not real long and sporting a below average layout and below average conditions makes this a below average course to play. Extremely flat.  The only elevations come where the greens and tees are pushed up one to three feet above the fairway. This is one of the big problems with the course. Even thought they have some water features and creeks, the fairways have little contouring and do not drain away properly, leaving many bare spots and grassless ruts. And if you get several feet into the rough, you often find yourself on roots or nasty hardpan. Actually, it is hard to tell where fairways end and the rough begins.  The unimaginative green complexes are Xeroxed over and over again, routinely showing the same two bunkers guarding each side of the thirty foot green entrance. After a while you begin to think you are playing the same holes over and over again. A good number of fairway bunkers do little else than give you something to look at. The par 4 eighteenth is somewhat uneventful but at least it is a tough finishing hole and the longest par 4 on the course. They have been known to call this "Little Augusta." Give me a break. For being in the middle of Westlake the price is acceptable. Some redeeming features here are the many mature trees which lend the course its definition. The many tight holes require a good bit of accuracy and serve as the main protection from scoring. The par 5 sixth is a good example where anything but a driver is a good option off the tee unless you can hit a seriously hook. Being in the middle of west Cleveland suburbia with virtually no housing is also a nice plus. Very easy to walk. They list four sets of tee, but in reality, there are only one or two tee stations where they place three tees. The maximum yardage listed does not seem to add up. Range available. Slope of 124 |  121 | 119 | 118 and yardage of 6985 | 6389 | 5915 | 5611. GCO Rating 39

 

HINCKLEY HILLS :  (330) 278-4861   18 holes in Hinkley, off of State Rd. Easily the hilliest course in town. Very hard to walk. Many, side hill, uphill and downhill lies. Medium to slow, spongy turtle back greens and some sand traps. Below average conditions and no fairway sprinkler system. Pace of play is usually slow. The course property occupies one of the highest points in the county and you are afforded some very scenic vistas of the North East Ohio canopy. This is the greatest assets of the course besides it's spectacular unrealized potential. The first two holes are par fives, so you better be stretched out. There are many elevated greens, a few good blind tee shots and some exciting opportunities on the tees. Very good starting and finishing holes. Four new holes added and more planned. However, you basically have to scratch your head and say, "who hired this guy to design the new holes?" Except for the new par 3s, the other new holes basically suck. Give us back the old holes. Very poorly marked because all you have is a 150 yard shrubbery. Too pricey for this design and conditioning. Three sets of tees. Slope of 125 | 120 | 118 and yardage of 6846 | 6253 | 5478. GCO Rating 57

 

IRONWOOD :  (330) 278-7171  18 hole par 71 located in Hinckley, just a cross the street from Hinckley Hills Golf Course. Not a real long course but possesses abundant elevations. The main defense of the course comes in the form of the often narrow fairways where trees, some O.B. and a few ponds come into play. Driver is not always needed,  but if you can keep it in play you will be rewarded with plenty of opportunities to score. For a mid-20th century design, the greens complexes are surprisingly large and often rise nicely from the fairways making up and downs a bit more precarious despite the glaring lack of bunkers. The blandly round medium sized greens also lack any sort of chipping or collection areas. No one will mistake this place for a modern design or old school architecture. Most holes are plainly straight without defining bunkering. Yet the natural elevations, heavy wood cover and lack of residential development, makes this an enjoyable place to play, despite some unimaginative holes. All four dramatic par 3s will test your iron game with two going uphill and two downhill. Back to back beasts come in  the form of  the long  par 5 seventh playing uphill into the wind and the long 442 yard par 4 eighth. Getting home in regulations is no small feat. Thankfully, the cupcake 462 yard par 5 ninth follows, offering a chance to balance your portfolio. The back nine is probably a bit more dramatic than the front side. The closing uphill par 5 eighteenth, a favorite, requires a tee shot up the right to avoid the pond lurking on the inside of the dogleg. Conditions are average to less than average in dry months. For the lady's, the course plays to a par 74 and is not particularly female friendly. Slope of 118 | 115 | 124 and yardage of 6360 | 6042 | 5785 . GCO Rating 53

 

J.E. GOODPARK :  (330) 864-0020  18 hole par 71 just off of I-77 in Akron. Owned by the City of Akron and named after its benefactor, Mr. J.E. Good. This throwback style course features smallish traditionally guarded greens that are often times dangerously tilted. Goodpark is a solid enjoyable classic test in a natural environment at a good price. Being below the hole is generally a good play.  Plenty of tight tree-line driving holes threaten to take the driver out of your hands if you cannot work the ball. And we really mean "work the ball" down these tight fairways. This is perhaps the toughest driving course around and will really test your ability to keep it on the short stuff. If you lay back, long approaches will face you. The massive mature trees permit only accurately shaped shots down the fairway and mock wayward shots. Just when you think you hammered one,  whack-clickity-clack, the ball gets  snatched from the sky by the bark adorned demons. Missing the fairway or even being on the wrong side of a fairway will force you into recovery shots. Those  that can chase  a low hook and fade recovery shots up into the greens will have a chance to stay in the match.  No water but a fair amount of bunkers and a few marsh areas. They generally keep this place is good condition. Four sets of tees. Slope of 123 | 119 | 116 | 115 and yardage of 6683 | 6288 | 5704 | 4926.   GCO Rating 76

 

KENNSINGTON :  (330) 533-8733  A par 71 championship caliber course just south of Youngstown. Fortunately from the Cleveland area, it is all highway to get there. Driving into the development that hosts the course, you might not expect that the busy roads, commercial establishments and flat fields of Canfield melt away into peaceful fairways which run through lush green valleys and water just behind the beautiful clubhouse. This 2006 Brian Huntley design utilizes flowing elevations, wonderfully preserved mature trees and clever bunkering that, for a few hours, helps you forget the cement and asphalt of daily life.  The opening par 4 reveals Huntley's intentions right out of the box. Your tee shot requires you to navigate four strategically placed bunkers that frame the slightly uphill tee shot. Refreshingly, there are many occasion on the course where there is more than one option off the tee. The par 4 fourth  features a Huntley favorite, the center fairway bunker. It may appear that you need to throttle back of the bunker with a hybrid but there is also room over the right of the bunker which can be challenged with a driver. The driver might be a more demanding effort, but it could take the marsh on the left out of play and yield a better approach into the green. The 326 yard short par 4 fourteenth is another fine example of strategic design. Driver really isn't the play, as the extensive bunkering and runaway fairway requires precision off the tee, yet there are several targets off the tee which will work. The smallest green on the course is guarded by a semi-pot bunker dead smack in the front awaiting any weak approaches so the shorter your make the hole the better. While not a penal course, there are a few daunting tee shots and approaches over ravines and around lakes that will get your blood pumping, especially the beautiful par 3 thirteenth which is all carry over a ravine. While the green is receptively large, it is seriously tiered. The course will likely be known for its intriguing par 4s and collection of five wonderfully varied par 3s. Kennsington is part of a housing development with a master plan that did not forget the golf course. Most of the holes have no housing and the few that do are well back from the fairways, furnishing more than a satisfactory urban compromise. For such a young course, it looks and plays great, however, like a fine wine, it needs to come of age a bit and then it will surely place higher in our ratings. Get on it now while the rates are low. Fine grass range and practice facility. Five sets of tees. Slope of  136 | 131 | 127 | 123 | 119 and yardage of 7050 | 6669 | 6310 | 5847 | 4950. GCO Rating 80

 

LEGENDS OF MASSILLON :  (330) 830-4653   27 holes of great golf located in Massillon.  The course is broken down into three nines, North, South and East.  About a 55 minute drive from the I-480 and I-77 interchange, but well worth the drive. This exceptional modern layout which first opened in 1995 was designed by Canadian John Robinson who studied under Pete Dye. Another nine holes opened in late 2001. Course gets a lot of play. Moderate elevation changes, lots of water and sand hazards. Creative and defining contouring. Very good greens and very good conditions. The price is very reasonable for such a sweet course. Most holes provide various club selection options, lay up points and entrances to the greens. A couple plain par 3s, but very solid par 4s and well laid out par 5s.  Great finishing holes on the East 9th, which is a enjoyable downhill par 4 and the South 9th, which is a par five tempting you to get home in two over a large lake. Most holes are well laid out. Not a tightly tree lined course but some hole have trees that make things interesting. Perhaps the most interesting hole is the South 3rd, which is a par five bordering the abandoned Massillon State Mental Institution. Those with the mental fortitude to take their tee shot just right of the funny farm will be rewarded with crazy distance. However, danger lurks everywhere on this hole, and you may well find  yourself in a straight jacket.  Wind can be a big factor on this course as it is relatively open. There is some housing around the course but its not too intrusive. Don't forget to pick up the handy tip sheet in the club house. All three nines are equally comparable and enjoyable. There are those that feel that they took a solid eighteen holes and chopped it up to much. Good practice facilities. East/South:  slope of  123 | 117 | 113 | 111 and yardage of 6978 | 6350 | 5577 | 5577. North/East: slope of  120 | 115 | 111 | 109 and yardage of 6743 | 6174 | 5422 | 4578 GCO Rating 73

 

LINKS AT FIRESTONE FARMS :  (330) 482-7888   18 Championship quality holes located in Columbiana. About one hour from the I-77 and I-80 Ohio Turnpike interchange.  While occupying the extreme south-east corner of the GCO map, it is conveniently only 7.5 miles from the Ohio Turnpike exit. Good conditions and great value make this 2003 design a worthy trip. Once again, golf master-minimalist designer Brian Huntley has struck with a fun design in a unique environment. There are two basic style holes featured at this fine layout. There are farm-links type holes where contoured fairways run up and down hillsides bordered by windy farm fields. Then you have woodland type holes which carry over marshlands through thickets of pines with cool lakes. All the holes are smartly designed requiring some management skills. Placement and club selection is always an issue and the process does not end on the tee, it continues though to the deceptively difficult green complexes. The great putting surfaces are often seriously undulated, although the locals ought to be more conscientious about repairing ball marks. Well marked with critical hazard yardages nicely on the tee box plates. Everyone talks about hole three, a two part par 5 dissected by a deep creek ravine, causing you to pause for thought on the tee.  It is possible to go for it in two, but you will need two amazing shots to get to the green tucked against a lake. The smart play is to lay up on your second shot.  The silo fourteenth hole  exemplifies how a fine golf architect designs the hardest hole in golf to design, that is, a short par 4. This is perhaps one of the most stimulating holes to play in Ohio. Take care not to hold up the rest of course with a lengthy discussions amongst your playing partners how to play this hole. Shots played toward the very cool little silo tend to come back toward the green. You want to finish in style? You got it. The par four 18th is not only beautiful, it can be deadly with water all the way down the left side. You need to bite off as much of the lake as you can. The housing built since the opening naturally take away the aesthetics of the course, but residential communities are sometimes need if you want to build a newer course in this day and age. This course will require all the clubs in your bag. Grass range.  Slope: 136 | 132 | 127 | 123 | 123 Yardage: 7220 | 6809 | 6414 | 6035 | 5106.   GCO Rating 83

 

LINKS AT RENAISSANCE :  (440) 235-0501  18 hole executive type course located in Olmsted township with a modern look and feel. They closed the front nine in 2009 to make room for more condos but the deal fell through and now the front nine is open again.  While executive style short, it is a good test with lots of modern contouring. There are some decent holes and it is easy to walk. Long hitters beware of fairway hazards and leave your driver in the bag for every hole. Course is usually in average shape. Many seniors play here as well as women. Course borders Springvale Golf Course on some holes and North Olmsted Golf Club on others. It looks like new management is trying to bring this baby back in into shape. Grass driving range. GCO Rating 43

 

LITTLE MET :  (216) 941-9672  9 hole executive type metroparks course down in the scenic metroparks valley along Rocky River. Deer and other wildlife often visible. Can be a pleasant experience in the Metroparks but not meant for the low handicapper.  No sand and no water hazards, very short. Three elevated tees. A 251 yard par 4 and three par 3s back to back usually cause a traffic jam. Two nice finishing holes await you if you aren't fed up with the slow pace of play. Even when most courses in the area are dried out, this course is still green due to the morning mist which settles in the valley. Two sets of tees, possibly three sets coming soon. 2434 total yards.    GCO Rating 33

 

LITTLE MOUNTAIN :  (440) 358-7888 18 championship holes from the design team of Hurdzan and Fry. Located in Concord, 18 minutes east of the I-90/I-271 interchange.  You can actually see the fine clubhouse on the southern side of I-90 west of the Rt. 44 exit. First opening in the fall of 2000, this modern course has become a favorite.  There are some conditioning issues lately and we hope this is just a temporary blemish on a great course. Little Mountain is a challenging par 70 with five par 3s and only three par 5s over beautiful and unique terrain. Make sure you take the par 70 and the total yardage into consideration before selecting your tees. Although part of a new residential development, very few homes actually border the course, and the ones that do, are far recessed. The course runs up and down seamless elevations changes and mounding through a very mature forest of tall trees. The is some beautiful homes on the course, but only on a few holes, very set back and not in any way in play. While decidedly Hurdzanish, this course has its own unique feel and flavor due to the wonderful terrain. Well marked. Better bring your best sand game, tons of the deepest sand-faced bunkers you will find anywhere.  You may find yourself eight feet below the putting surface. But the bunkers, their signature, is also their biggest problem. They require far more maintenance than they can keep up with and it is keeping them from being the absolute premier course they originally envisioned. We would not be surprised if someday they abandon this style of bunkering and go with more conventional ones. More than a few holes have the left side of the fairway bordered by hazardous deep gorges. Better not hook the ball off the tee on this course, left is punished more often than right. A tough but great starting par 5 playing slightly uphill with a creek coming into play. Holes 10, 13 and 18 are long par 4s that are tough to get home in two with little room for error. Two shortish par 4s tempt you're your driver at holes 8 and 11. But beware, Hurdzan's bottomless bunkers can easily turn par into easy double bogeys. Fine par 3s and a great finishing hole to a pedestal green protected by a deep ravine and menacing bunkers. You really need to bust a long drive on eighteen or you will be thinking about laying up. The greens here are very fastest with nice undulations. Most green complexes require you to fly one in softly since they are so heavily bunkered and usually somewhat elevated. Not much water but numerous creeks and other hazards. The conditions here are top shelf. The green fees are a bit heavy, but thankfully, they do offer some twilight rates. This course is actually a par 72 for the ladies. You cannot reasonably walk this course due to the long distances between several holes. Four sets of tees. New range. Slope: 131 | 126 | 117 | 115 and yardage: 6628 | 6111 | 5554 | 4982.   GCO Rating 84

 

LOST NATION :  (440) 953-4280 18 municipal holes located in Willoughby, just north or Rt. 2.  Lost Nation is owned by the City of Willoughby but its history is as a former country club. Designed by the famous UK team of Harry Colt and Charles Alison in the 1920's, you will find lots of old school county club touches you might not find at other Municipal courses. Now you can play it at a great bargain. There are barely any homes on the course, several holes border the quiet Willoughby Lost Nation Airport and the course sports a good bit of nature, trees and wild areas. The course's many flat fairways can be blamed for some of the poor drainage issues and hence less than idea conditions at spots. But that is pretty much the only thing holding this place back. You can see that substantial efforts have been made to enhance the courses to more than a flat patch of city parkland with flag poles. Many fairways are bordered by or incorporate mounding providing needed definition. They even have a great assortment of par 3s here, rivaling many upper end courses. Don't go left of the par 3 twelfth green, o.b. comes up way to quick. The smallish greens are generally a bit on the slow side but the green complexes seem to be where the bulk of the money was spent on this course. You will find greens fronted by mounding, protected by bunkers and lots of deep fall off hollows that can really test one's short game. The net result is fun and challenging approaches where precision is a must. There always seems to be a penal side to avoid. The main topographic feature on the back nine is a stream that winds through the course providing some additional elevations and water hazards elements in the form of stream beds and high channels. The stream's  prevalence is  apparent on several holes. The par 4 thirteenth requires a tee shot up over a high stream channel to a difficult blind fairway. The target is the large tree in the distance. On the number one handicap hole, the 440 yard par 4 fifteenth, a big tee shot is needed or you will have to layup before the stream which protects the entire approach. The stream again fronts the green on the par 5 eighteenth making a go in two very difficult although there is a small bailout area short and right of the green. Or favorite holes were the par 5 second and the par 4 eleventh which seem to showcase the true potential here.  There is room for improvement and it looks like management is on a course to do so, a little at a time. Easy to walk. New grass range. Slope: 115 | 112 | 118 and yardage: 6410 | 6130 | 5240.   GCO Rating 57

M through Z

Heavenly

100-81

Very Solid

80-61

Ho-Hum

60-41

Disappointing

40-21

Terrible

20-0

 

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