Stuck for a place to play in central Ohio, its tallest peak Mt. Nicklaus? An hour’s drive east of Muirfield Village and other storied private clubs in and around Columbus, the nation’s premier manufacturer of hand-crafted baskets has given public golfers a place to put all their eggs.
On a rolling, wooded site with elevation changes more typical of the Appalachian Mountains than the Midwestern plains, Toledo-based Arthur Hills followed pre-existing corridors and the grazing trails of livestock to fashion an outstanding daily-fee course in 1999 that’s only gotten better with time. The all-bentgrass layout is a tournament-caliber spread with five sets of tees ranging from 7,243 to 4,985 yards.
Hills, a Donald Ross disciple, made dozens of site visits to meld the holes to the existing terrain and imbue them with strategic interest. The course is a reflection of his personality—honest, spare, unembellished. No flash and filigree for Hills. Tees are rectangular. Bunkers are oblong pits with rolled-down grass faces. Water features, including the stepped waterfall at the par-three ninth, are naturalistic. The size and contour of each green relative to the shot to be played into it are textbook. The front nine, routed on topsy-turvy terrain with 150-foot drops, gives players a distant view of the Longaberger Company headquarters: a seven-story replica of a woven basket. Uncanny.
The more open back nine skirts ponds, creeks, wetlands, an old barn and fescue-covered ridges. The par-four 15th, a right-to-left dogleg carved from the side of a ridge, is a beauty, while the 18th, a stupendous par four that proceeds uphill past sand trenches and a lone walnut tree to a spacious green set in a natural ampitheater below the impressive clubhouse, is as extroverted a hole as Hills will ever build.
A Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary (the first public course in Ohio to achieve this distinction), Longaberger also has a 25-acre grass driving range and practice facility with target greens as well as a dedicated short game practice area. Stay & Play packages starting at $185 per person are available. www.longabergergolfclub.com.