Whispering Woods Golf Club (Erie, PA) Review

Whispering Woods is clearly Erie’s best public course, and it will only get better as the course matures.

Whispering Woods LogoThe Erie area first heard about the golf course that would become Whispering Woods Golf Club in early 2002. In late 2005, a golf course began taking shape among the houses of the Whispering Woods residential development. Seeded in two phases during 2006, the semi-private course opened May 25, 2007 with less than the desired 100 members. A rate drop for both membership and public play only 11 days later lured the remaining members, necessitated a waiting list 70+ names long, and increased public play on the course dramatically.

The course, like so many others, lays claim to the title of “best in the area.” I tested the assertion – is the course the best public course in the Erie area? Read on to find out…

Darby Creek Golf Course (Marysville, OH) Review

Darby Creek is a great example of a small diamond in the rough, except by “rough” I mean “nowhere near signs of modern civilization” and by diamond I mean “a moderately priced venue that exceeds expectations.”

Darby Creek LogoTo get to Darby Creek, you drive through a few towns the likes of which you’ll be surprised still exist. You’ll hang a right at a driving range in the middle of nowhere, drive another few miles, then take another right. A golf course appears, and suddenly you’ve arrived at Darby Creek.

The course takes its name from a stream which is two miles from the course itself. Designed in 1993 by the design tandem of Brian Silva and Geoff Cornish, Darby Creek blends a bit of the old and a bit of the new, just like the designers themselves (Silva graduated from college in 1973, Cornish was born in 1914).

Eagle Sticks Golf Club (Zanesville, OH) Review

Eagle Sticks is a renaissance course that rewards creativity and shotmaking over the popular bomb and gouge style of play. It’s a throw-back course, and a fun, well-designed one at that.

Eagle Sticks LogoDescribed on our forum as “Augusta Junior,” Eagle Sticks Golf Club has at least one thing in common with the famous Georgia course: the entrance is right off a street filled with strip malls, fast food, and small retail buildings. The course is also set among hilly terrain, like Augusta National, but the comparisons really stop there. Eagle Sticks was not designed by Alister MacKenzie. I doubt if any top-ranking pro aspires to play there. And, as hard as I looked, I couldn’t spot a single azalea anywhere on the course!

Fortunately for golfers, Eagle Sticks is a fun, well-designed, and relatively inexpensive track for golfers east of Columbus, OH. I had the chance to play Eagle Sticks in early May, and after hearing the “Augusta Junior” moniker, I couldn’t possibly help but be disappointed when reality didn’t quite meet expectations. Right? Wrong – Eagle Sticks impressed me enough that I’m trying to find a way to get back to the course, despite the four-hour drive, to play again.

Cranberry Highlands (Cranberry, PA) Review

Cranberry Highlands is a very playable golf course that suffers a little bit from blandness. I prefer to think of it as more of a blank canvas for the kind of golf you’d like to play.

Cranberry Highlands SignAmerican golfers don’t often get to play a course without many trees, and when we do we often call the course “linksy.” Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, as true “links” land exists in only one place: right against a large body of water. Links land is a soft, fertile soil that literally “links” the inland sections to the body of water.

For treeless inland courses I prefer the term “early American.” Many of today’s parkland courses, characterized by chutes of trees leading from tee to green, began their lives as virtually treeless golf courses. Whether as a result of “Beautification Committees” or Mother Nature, treeless golf courses in 1930 became forested, heavily wooded courses by 2000. For example, Oakmont – home of this year’s U.S. Open – was once treeless and has had to remove some 8,000 trees to get back to its original look.

A short drive west of Oakmont, one will find an “early American” course in a town called “Cranberry.” Built on the top of a hill, Cranberry Highlands brings this style of architecture to a public, municipally owned course. I’ve had the chance to play Cranberry Highlands a few times, and I’ve come away with mixed feelings. Read on to see what I mean…

Aerial Shots of Abominable Augusta

Augusta National has become an abomination. Here’s to hoping Billy Payne can begin to right Hootie’s wrongs.

Golf Digest has a number of aerial photos of Augusta National, including this one:

Augusta 15, 16, 17

I’m fairly certain this is not what Bobby Jones and Alistair MacKenzie had in mind.

Photo Credit: © Golf Digest.

The Architects Golf Club (Lopatcong, NJ) Review

On New Jersey’s western border, just across the Delaware from Easton, PA, lies a golf course that proves a great test doesn’t have to bring you to your knees.

Architects LogoLucky to play so many wonderful courses over the years, I’ve devised my own simple Goldilocks rating scheme. Some are too hard. Some are too soft. Some are just right.

Too hard? Bethpage Black, Winged Foot, Kiawah Ocean. Too soft? The Old Course at 70°F in dead calm from the forward tees with a great caddie and your “A” game working. Just right? Harbour Town, Troon North, and Somerset Hills come to mind.

The latest in my life long list of “just right” is my home club, The Architects Golf Club in Lopatcong, NJ. Here’s as unbiased a review as I can muster given that I love it so…

Riverwood National Golf Course

Does the Twin Cities area need another golf course in an oversaturated market? Does converted farmland make a good golf course? Yes and yes (although about three million yards of dirt had to pushed around first).

Riverwood NationalWith over 580 golf courses to choose from in Minnesota, course owners have to work hard to attract golfers with an attractive layout, good maintenance, and quality service in order to fill their tee times and turn a profit.

Does Riverwood National have what it takes to attract golfers in a Twin Cities golf market that offers many choices for your golfing dollar? Read on to find out.

Little Mountain Country Club (Concord, OH) Review

“Deep Freakin’ Bunkers Country Club” may be a better name for this course, but Little Mountain will suffice for now.

Little Mountain CC LogoI looked high and low, but never really saw any large mountains at Little Mountain Country Club (LMCC), so they must be little. Or perhaps I was simply distracted by the gaping bunkers sprinkled liberally about the course.

LMCC is a five-star layout (as determined by Golf Digest), which places it in some heady company: Bethpage Black, Spyglass Hill, Pinehurst #2, Bandon Dunes, Pebble Beach, Arcadia Bluffs, and Whistling Straits are among the others to receive a perfect rating.

I live less than 90 minutes from Little Mountain, so I’ve stopped by a few times. Is the course worthy of five stars? Read on to find out…

Grey Hawk Golf Club (LaGrange, OH) Review

Grey Hawk will drop the jaws of the higher handicapper, but it fails to appeal to better players and fans of architecture.

Grey Hawk LogoGrey Hawk Golf Club in LaGrange, OH is a residential golf course built in 2004. 45 minutes from Cleveland, the course is a bit out of the way, but worth the trip if only to see what warranted its inclusion in Golf Digest’s “Best New Affordable Public Courses” list. A friend and I visited the course in late June, 2006 to give the course a look. Measuring anywhere between 7079 and 5091 yards, Grey Hawk offers a linksy Florida blend at reasonable prices.

Before we begin, we’d like to thank forum member Mark (aka “ezmoney5150“) for the invitation. If I’ve ever played with a more gregarious fellow, I can’t remember it. Mark’s company made what could have been a very dull round much more interesting.