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…

Conditions
I first played Little Mountain in March, 2006. Open year-round, weather-permitting, LMCC suffers from its proximity to Lake Erie and spends a good portion of the winter under at least a small amount of snow. Yet even in mid-March, with the temperature in the mid-50s, the course was already quite playable. Winter can wreak havoc on turf, with snow mold and all manner of other diseases and excess water, but Little Mountain was relatively disease-free and quite dry.

Little Mountain Third Hole
The 366-yard third requires only a hybrid or 3W from the tee before playing to one of the smaller and more contoured greens on the course.

By mid-April, the course was starting to really come into form. The grass at LMCC, only recently opened (in 2001), was clearly given sufficient grow-in time, as a good root structure exists on fairways and greens.

The course features receptive greens, lush fairways, and plentiful healthy rough. The greens were playing to about nine feet on the Stimpmeter in mid-March, and played to a good daily rate of 10 to 11 by mid-April, where they’re held throughout the summer. Balls behave as you would expect on the greens and fairways – rolling or releasing at times or backing up or sitting down quickly at others.

Little Mountain Seventeenth Green
The seventeenth green – seen here from tee #16 – has several levels. If you do go for this par five in two, you’ll want to leave your shot to the right if anything.

Little Mountain is widely known for its bunkers, some of which are as deep as twenty feet below the green surface, and the care they take must be phenomenal. Yet they, too, are maintained more than adequately. Though you may often find unraked footprints, you can blame the foursome in front of you for that, not the maintenance staff.

Design and Layout
Designed by the same fellows – Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry – that recently brought the world the renowned Erin Hills, LMCC is a target golf course that provides ample opportunity for the heroic and the tragic. The scratch golfer will have little trouble navigating the course if he can place his ball in the proper spots around the course’s 6,628 yards, but shots that miss their often very wide target will pay a substantial penalty. The bogey golfer will likely want to play the white (6,119 yards) or gold (5,554 yards) tees, because they’ll still find themselves in plenty of trouble.

Little Mountain Eleventh Green
Nature butts right up against the left side of the eleventh green. You’d better miss right, if anywhere.

Little Mountain features some of the deepest bunkers I’ve ever seen, both greenside and off the fairway. Several photos in this review illustrate this point quite well, and golfers are well advised to avoid the sand-filled pits at LMCC.

Most courses with gimmicks like “deep freakin’ bunkers” tend to go overboard, but LMCC remains eminently playable. The bunkers are strategically placed to challenge the better golfer while ample room is provided for the golfer who doesn’t quite feel up to the challenge.

The fifth hole, for example, is a near-90° dogleg. I typically despise such holes, but this hole smartly tests your bravado from the tee and rewards the brave who can execute with a shorter approach. You can hit anything from a 3-iron well right of the gaping fairway bunker to a three-wood or driver over the bunker. The first option will leave another 3-iron to the green, while the latter rewards you with a wedge. Come up short, and you’ll be faced with the bunker shot presenting the chap in the red shirt below:

Little Mountain Fifth Hole
The tee shot at the par-four fifth can either challenge the large fairway bunker that’s trapped the fellow in the red shirt, or be played safely to the right, which leaves a long-iron approach to a narrow, elongated green.

The presence of a strong strategic element is one of the surprising features of LMCC, in fact. Most target golf courses get a little boring after repeated play, but LMCC toys with the mind of the better golfer. The tenth hole – a 471-yard par 4 – is set alongside a massive gorge to the left. Do you pull driver and attempt to reach the green in two or do you play safely with 3-wood or hybrid, a layup, and a possible one-putt par or an easy bogey?

The eleventh hole features a split fairway, challenging golfers to find a thin shred left or right of some deep fairway bunkers. Pin placement and local knowledge – as well as absolute faith in your shot shape – is critical in picking the best route on any given day. And then golfers venture to the twelfth, a 135-yard par three with a deceptively wicked green. Again, shot selection (and the ability to pull it off) are key.

Little Mountain Greenside Bunker Two
Some of Little Mountain’s bunkers are largely for show: this one isn’t overly deep, and it’s unlikely a ball would ever stop on the severe slope…

Little Mountain Greenside Bunker One
… but most of the bunkers are incredibly penal and quite deep, making short-siding yourself a definite sin. In this image, you can just see the green to the left. This bunker is 15 feet deep.

Little Mountain plays to a par of 70 with outgoing and incoming nines of par-35 each. With three par-threes on the front to complement the two par-fives and only one par five on the back to go along with two par-threes, golfers will use every club in their bag to get around Little Mountain. The par threes range from the dainty second and twelfth (100 and 135 yards respectively) to the beefy sixth (234 yards). The par fives play, from the blues, to yardages of 582 at the opener to 524 (#7) and 552 (#17). Par fours range from the nearly drivable #8 (341 yards, but quite a bit downhill) to the stern tenth, thirteenth, and eighteenth (471, 487, and 481 yards respectively).

I haven’t yet talked much about the bunkers, but I don’t know that I have to. Some of the pictures included in this review don’t do the bunkers at Little Mountain justice, but you get the idea. A word of advice: avoidance. A few more words? Stay the heck away from the bunkers. The average depth of a greenside bunker at Little Mountain must be ten feet, and some are as deep as 20 feet below the putting surface. The steep walls are intimidating, but a golfer who is able to control his ball will always be able to get around the course. The fronts of most greens are available for run-up shots, rewarding the creative golfer who isn’t able to fly it and stick it, while punishing the golfer who thinks he can fly it and stick it but can’t.

Little Mountain Hole Eighteen
From the back tees, the dangerous 18th plays 481 yards. From the gold, it’s a reasonable 417 yards.

My only complaint about the layout of the course is that the finishing hole is so dramatic and so damn difficult, I am annoyed when the course “flips nines” and starts you on the tenth hole, as management seems to have players do every other day. The finishing holes, from 16 through 18, all deserve to play as finishing holes. The 7th, 8th, and 9th are much weaker in comparison.

Finally, as a modern course, houses are nearby. Fortunately, the McMansions scattered about the edges of the course are not close enough to come into play unless you intentionally aim well left or hit a snap hook to end all snap hooks. They’re set back a few hundred yards from reasonable lines of play, but they do provide interesting viewing through the trees.

Little Mountain Course Map
Where you don’t see golf holes, imagine McMansions. But don’t fret – they’re set well back and don’t come into play.

Bang for the Buck
For a maximum of $77, Little Mountain is an excellent value, particularly when compared to the other five-star courses listed earlier. If you take advantage of specials or less expensive tee times, a trip to Little Mountain may set a foursome back less than $200. Memberships (of two varieties are available and rather affordable as well, with family memberships running $345 monthly.

Compared to the other five-star courses listed in Golf Digest’s rankings, Little Mountain is probably the most affordable on the list, making its “bang for the buck” quotient quite high. Located just east of Cleveland and within a two-hour drive for those in Columbus, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, it’s well worth the trip.

Little Mountain Fifteenth
The smart play on the short par-four fifteenth is to drive right of these bunkers for an open approach.

Conclusion
I’ve played on a few of the five-star courses (Bethpage Black most recently), and at the rates Little Mountain charges, it is hands down the best value. That it’s located so close to me only makes it more attractive.

Little Mountain features some incredibly deep bunkers, but doesn’t punish the careful player. The course can be had, but it can have you, too, if you can’t control your ball. Unlike most target golf courses, LMCC has a strong strategic element that I found refreshing. Lots of risk/reward possibilities present themselves, and the difference between a heroic shot and a tragic shot is often separated by a very thin line.

Little Mountain Country Club deserves your attention.

Scorecard

Hole      1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9   Out
Par       5     3     4     3     4     3     5     4     4   35
Blue    582   100   366   197   413   234   524   341   401   3210
White   519   148   327   166   373   206   482   302   382   2905
Hdcp      4    18     6    14     2     8    10    16    12
Hole     10    11    12    13    14    15    16    17    18   In
Par       4     4     3     4     3     4     4     5     4   35
Blue    471   369   135   487   155   373   387   552   481   3410
White   447   359   123   474   124   360   360   515   452   3214
Hdcp      3     9    17     1    15    13    11     7    5
Totals
Blue    72.7   131   6,628 yards
White   69.9   126   6,119 yards
Gold    67.5   117   5,554 yards
Red     68.3   114   4,982 yards

22 thoughts on “Little Mountain Country Club (Concord, OH) Review”

  1. Nice review! The course sounds like a lot of fun to play. I personally like courses that open with a par 5 – gives you a chance to warm up a little!

  2. 5 star??? Who did they pay for that? I am a member at Stonewater (same designers) and we get to play there as well and it is NOT AT ALL a 5 star course. Thats a shame! It is nice though!

  3. This is for Chirs, c’mon…LMCC is a 5 star course and is a wonderful public course. They had the Ohio Amateur held there in the summer of 06. Plus it’s reasonably priced compared to Stonewater. I wonder who Stonewater paid for their rating?

  4. This is for Justin…c’mon, Carrabba’s is much better, they have gift cards.

    Sell speakers, buy back.

  5. My father in law and I are going to play LMCC this coming Friday. Reading your review (excellent) has made me even more excited about playing the course. Played Manikiki in Willoughby last week, a Donald Ross Course, which at $31 for 18 (hoofing) is great value. Have a great 4th July – all.

    Lars

  6. I play with alot of local area pros in the cleveland area. When they are getting ready to go out on tour they seem to always go to little mountain to get “tour ready”. 5 star all the way

  7. Little Mountain got the 5 star rating because its a great course at a great price like the article says. No better public layout in Ohio and I think it was the only 5 star. Stonewater is nice like the guy said a couple reviews up but its dead Flat. Little mountain looks like its not even in Ohio.

  8. 5 star??? Who did they pay for that? I am a member at Stonewater (same designers) and we get to play there as well and it is NOT AT ALL a 5 star course. Thats a shame! It is nice though!

    That’s because Stonewater is for an amateur player. Stonewater is a 3 stars place, mainly because of its uptight members.

  9. Love the course but hard for me to give it a 5 star. 4-4.5 for sure but I think its lacking some things for that last star or half a star. For one the greens are always rock hard when I play there which is 3 times a year. April, June and September. 2nd there are some beat up spots around the greens, on the green etc. 5 stars im expecting A+ conditions throughout.

    Love the hole designs. One of my favorites to play in Ohio. For you ohioans, if you could take Sevne HIlls CC’s greens conditions and put them at LM you would have your 5 stars.

    Anyways love the course, def worth it if you get the chance to play it.

  10. I played the course yesterday, July 19. It’s a difficult but fair layout for a mid handicapper and, as others have said, it’s reasonably priced. I paid $67 for a 1 pm tee time. That being said, it doesn’t come close to a five star venue. The service was nominal and the course condition was, at best, a B.

    I’ve played other 5s including Pebble. Disregarding the fact that LM is not on an ocean and doesn’t provide the breathtaking views of Pebble and Spyglass or the manicured fairways and greens of others such as Pinehurst #2, the course just isn’t memorable. Further, a five star should at least have someone waiting to take your clubs when you arrive and someone to take your food order in the clubhouse at the turn. In both cases noone was there despite waits of more than five minutes.

    It’s sort of like going to a movie after having read an extremely favorable review. Your expectations are high and when it’s over and doesn’t deliever, there’s a pretty big let down. Same here.

    If you live nearby, you could do a lot worse. If you have to travel more than a modest distance to play, don’t bother. A three or maybe three plus course in my book.

  11. played lm a few weeks back, payed $67.00 and was not inpressed i was expecting to be wowed i left lm a comment on there web site and never recieved a reply,the sand traps were unplayable after 9 holes our group decided to pull our ball out of the traps. I talked to the guys at the club house and they asked how did we do told them we were unhappy with the traps and for that kind of money we expected more the gentleman went on to say they have told mang.about the problem but until they hear it from paying customers they wont do anything about it.We are letting everyone know that this place is a joke. For my money i would rather play Boulder creek in Streetsboro Ohio,Longaberger in Nashport Ohio now them 2 courses are what you would expect for what you pay.

  12. I find it very funny about these comments saying it is not a 5-star course and that its local “competition” StoneWater is so much superior. Well I got good news…they are now both owned by the same people and are just as equally well run. Conditions were awesome at both courses all summer. If it wasn’t such a politics game they would both be on the 5-star list every year. PS – Jack, the members over there are pretty good people, you should go try it out one day.

  13. Oh yeah, I forgot about Dan, sorry. I don’t want to rustle any feathers but when you get as much rain as NE OH has in the past two years the bunkers won’t always be in the greatest of shape (I’ve played it a day after an all day rain and they weren’t bad). Boulder Creek and Longaberger are great courses, don’t get me wrong, but you can’t get a better deal (I’ve seen it for $30 on the weekend for 18 holes). You can’t get that deal at those courses. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about but I think the Golf Digest rating guys do….

  14. I live in Mentor, Ohio and literally 5 minutes from Little Mountain. I play it about 10 times a year and usually shoot par. Little Mountain is definitely worth playing, but not 5 stars. Peek n Peak upper course, where they play the Nationwide, is an hour away from here and a much better course and Golf Digest rated it 4.5 stars. I would say LMCC is 4 stars by that logic.

    The one review is correct, they don’t take great care of their bunkers almost all year round. The front nine is probably a 3.5 star course and the back nine is close to a 5 star. I agree with the author that the last 3 holes are great and 18 is a very tough finishing hole.

    The best thing about Stonewater is its practice facilities (i.e. driving range, practice green, chipping green). The course is always in good condition, but flat, boring, and you don’t have to think too much.

    Boulder Creek is arguably the best course in NE Ohio and doesn’t get the credit it deserves–probably because it doesn’t have a big name designer. There are some great holes on this course, especially the island green par 3 (which you rarely see in Ohio). It is very challenging too, I still haven’t shot par there yet.

    My advice, play them all and form your own opinion.

  15. Peek n Peak upper course, where they play the Nationwide, is an hour away from here and a much better course and Golf Digest rated it 4.5 stars.

    They no longer play the Nationwide Tour there because the course couldn’t pay people, and I don’t think it’s a better course. Not necessarily worse, but not better either.

    My review of Peak ‘n Peek is here.

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