If I were to start my own golf club today I would hope it came out looking exactly like The Golf Club in New Albany, OH. The Golf Club was founded in 1967 by Fred Jones with the simple goal of having a private club where he and his friends could play golf and enjoy themselves. Mr. Jones managed to piece together a 400 acre parcel of land and then took a chance on a virtually unknown architect by the name of Pete Dye to build his golf course. When the project was finished a world class golf club was left as a monument to their partnership.
Thanks to my fellow Top 100 golfer Larry Berle. I’m playing The Golf Club today with his friend Bob. I cut through the quaint little pro shop and over to the main clubhouse building where the dining and locker rooms are located. When I stepped through the door to the locker room I saw what might be my favorite locker room ever. There were tables and chairs in a bar area, leather couches for lounging, card tables, stacks of books and magazines on golf, exposed wooden beams, a huge fireplace and rows of nicely aged dark wooden lockers.
Once we were sufficiently warmed up we went to the putting green to wait our turn. The practice green here is unique in that it is a shared green with the 18th hole. This is something I’ve not ever seen before. As there are no tee times at The Golf Club so members just hang around on the putting green until its their turn to go off. The membership is VERY small at 150 so even at its busiest times there aren’t many golfers on the course.
We played from the white tees which were 6632 yards. The first hole pictured below is a 349 yard par 4 dogleg right. The smart player will avoid the bunker on the right. Its very much in play for a sliced shot and the grass in the middle of the bunker is very long and very penal . . . trust me on that. The 2nd hole is a long par 4 at 444 yards with a blind tee shot.
The 3rd hole pictured below is a fantastic par 3 that plays 185 yards. Shots that fall short will find the water and those that are long will get in the nasty bunkers behind the green. Note that Pete Dye was using his signature railroad ties even this early in his career. The 4th hole is a 518 yard par 5. In the photo below you can see that the fairway throws everything to the right so the line is to play down the left hand side as close to the tree as possible.
The 5th hole is a 400 yard par 4 with an interesting tee shot. As illustrated in the photo below you have to carry the bunker and thread the ball between the tree on the left and the woods on the right. It doesnt seem like it should be that difficult of a shot, but it was a bit of a knee knocker for me.
The approach shot for the 5th hole is pictured below. Its a bit of a narrow chute to get your ball in there and onto the green. There is also a nasty marsh area that must be carried to reach the green. I suspect that short hitters are forced to lay up here if they don’t think they can carry the marsh.
The 6th hole is a 425 yard par 4 dogleg left and is the number 1 handicap hole. The best line is to cut off as much as possible by driving the ball down the left side. Note the cool old railroad car covered bridge on the right side of the photo below.
The photo below is where I hit my approach shot from. It was roughly 180 yards to the flag. Still a long way after a really good drive. I’m pleased to say I hit it to about 3 feet and sunk the birdie putt.
The 7th hole is a 509 yard par 5. Unfortunately for me I hit my drive WAY right so getting there in 2 was not happening. My caddie gave me detailed instructions to hit a 9 iron up and over the trees through a narrow opening between two trees and back to the fairway which I did perfectly. Below is where I hit my 3rd shot from. Its slightly downhill to a fairly small green.
After I again followed the caddie’s instructions to the letter and hit my shot onto the green pin high I got a comment from him that I’ve never gotten from a caddie before. He said “Sir, you are very fun to watch.” Haha. I’ve gotten a LOT of comments from caddies, but never that one!
The 8th hole is another great par 3 that played just 135 yards from our tees. As can be seen in the photo below there is water around the green. As I also found out there is water long and to the left as well. My ball found a creek over there when I yanked a 9 iron over the green.
As is often times the case, as the quality of my golf game goes down so do the number of photos that I take. Unfortunately that is the case with the second nine at The Golf Club. The photo below is of the green at the 183 yard par 3 11th hole. This is a fairly straight forward mid-length par 3.
The 13th hole pictured below is another par 4 dogleg left that plays at 352 yards from the white tees. You have to be careful on the drive here as you can hit it through the fairway which is exactly what I did. A good line is aiming right at the two trees in the middle of the photo below.
There are a couple of interesting things I’d like to point out about The Golf Club. The first is a unique tradition in regards to the locker room. There are exactly 150 lockers and exactly 150 members. When a new member is accepted into the club he is assigned a locker in the rear of the locker room. As the member’s seniority increases he will move forward to a locker in the main room. Finally, when the member passes away the brass name badge from his locker is removed and mounted on the mantle above the fireplace in the locker room effectively making way for another member to move to a forward locker and a new member to be accepted and move into a rear locker. The members like to say that you start out at the rear and move towards the front but your final move is always to the fireplace. What a great tradition.
Another interesting point is that there has never been an outside event held at the golf course. Mr. Jones’ intention was for the club to be used by the members and he set the precedent of not having outside events that has held to this day. At one point the USGA was considering moving their headquarters to the The Golf Club’s property and the conversations came to an immediate halt when the USGA revealed that they would want to have the U.S. Open there. Not even for the USGA and the most prestigious event in American golf was the club willing to waver!
Overall, this is not only a great golf course, but a great club and if I lived in the Columbus area I would delight in an opportunity to be a member here. In my opinion its exactly what a golf club should be. It was great to see Pete Dye’s early work before he carved out his niche as the architect who loves to torture golfers. His layout at The Golf Club is challenging but it is still a lot of fun to play. Definitely my favorite Pete Dye course that I’ve seen so far.