Beavercreek Golf Club: Fuzzy Zoeller Presents a Challenging Layout

By John Eckberg, Contributor

Beavercreek, OH - A rooster split the pre-dawn morning and the peace of the challenging first fairway at Beavercreek Golf Club, a Fuzzy Zoeller signature course owned by the City of Beavercreek in a suburb of Dayton. Roosters are not supposed to live where there are suburbs, after all they come from another time and place. So, these days, their call is a rare one. Finding a course like this, with resort-quality greens and turf, is becoming harder and harder to find too.

But here it is, a brief 45-minute drive from northern Cincinnati's interstate beltway and about the same from Columbus. The course is a strong 7,030 yards from the black back tees and more digestible at 6,488 yards from the green tees. Like that rooster, which crowed all day long and keeps it up every day, all day - the challenge from this course does not ease.

Overall, conditions were excellent with bent grass tees, fairways and greens - though Dayton-area golfers can learn a few lessons about etiquette and golf. The first lesson is simple: replace your divots. The second lesson is equally facile: replace your divots. Something about this course must compel a few golfers to play with abandon or play in a great big hurry because many fairways from 150 yards in bare the pockmarked evidence of some rude public golfers in the not-so-distant past. So the question is - does anyone in Ohio replace divots anymore?

Manners aside, the course, which winds through more than 350 acres of rolling terrain - there's about 200 acres that are mowed - offers challenging, but not impossible golf. There are relatively few blind tee-to-green holes and some splendid turf with enough give to bring feel to the wedges and short irons, but firm enough too, for a crisp pop from the long irons. The rough is a mix of rye and bluegrass and mowed to uniform ankle-deep trouble.

No green is improbable. Unlike some courses, which are compelled to lay in one or two greens with three tiers, a table-top roll and a swoop-de-do roller coaster hump or two tossed in for good measure, Beavercreek has tough but fair greens and pin placements.

Don't bother playing this one from the old-timer gray tees nor from the black championship tees for that matter. It's a decent layout from the green markers, and though on one or two holes condominiums, and that always annoying march of electric towers intrude, for the most part, Beavercreek is a sincere and worthy round of golf.

The round starts by clicking on the GPS locator that is on every cart, along with a vista from the No. 1 tee that overlooks a creek with leaping frogs - always a good sign to see creeks with actual life in them - and that rooster crowing to meet the new day.

Holes two and three are the most picturesque pair on the course. The parallel fairways are split by a creek that flows through a series of small pools created by several damns - hence the name Beavercreek. The waterway gives this stretch a Monet-esque appeal with red bud and dogwood on the hillside blooming and reflecting in the pools. Cattails sway with the breeze and the fairways have plenty of margin for error.

It may be time to do a little reflecting yourself about now: is it a go-for-the-gusto three-wood into the green and a chance for an early-season eagle or a long iron lay-up and ever-challenging half wedge on the 528 yard, par five No. 2. Heading back on No. 3, the fairway blossoms wide and benign on this 382-yard par four, with the creek and placid pools to the left and only one trap to protect the green. Frogs are everywhere along the water and the fairway drains left into the ponds.

Though numbers three and four are not signature holes, they ought to be. These are the best two consecutive holes on the course and the third, a number three handicap, is one of the toughest, even though its 366 yards from the gray boxes implies it's easy as pie. The hole is uphill and sets up the par four, number four - one of the worst holes on the course because of the wall of condos. Don't let the condos compromise your drive as the course's largest sand trap stretches to the right and wraps around the crest of the knoll to the green, which is trimmed to near Augusta specs.

The jaunt over to number 5 is past a broad area that might pass for waste area, but here seems more prairie-like and prelude for the course's signature hole. If it's anytime but a Sunday morning (and there is a reason to swat on a Sunday morning but more on that later) you can expect a hold-up here, as it's Fuzzy's design and he wasn't about to design a babycakes hole.

It's a clean 227 yards down through this chilling valley of death and up again to get to the fairway. It's a haul to get to safety, and not everyone makes it. That's why the carts can sometimes stack up here. Never mind the wait. It's a gorgeous hole. Enjoy the view: the maple grove to the right and that tiny gorge cut by the creek. It's a shame every golf hole doesn't look like this one.

The front side is much better than the backside, although Nos. 16, 17 and 18 break away from the condos and back to the clubhouse where the next real deal of this course awaits on Sunday mornings: a $9.95 brunch for those savvy enough to make reservations. (That price includes coffee and orange juice, which is three bucks at most places.)

Don't miss the buffet. It has omelets made-to-order, fresh sliced beef and an array of other tempting chef-inspired offerings. When you make your tee-times, have them forward you over to the restaurant so that you can make brunch buffet reservations about five hours after your round.

It's a nice package at Beavercreek: golf, a post-round feast and a rooster that punctuates the day - all day and every day.

Green fees: $58 weekends, $49 through the week.

John Eckberg, Contributor

John Eckberg has been a life-long bogey golfer, whose addiction to the sport began with nine-iron pitches to and from neighbor Frank Haines's back yard and on the golf courses in and around Akron, Ohio. His fondest golf memories date to his teenaged-years when he and his brother would annually sneak into PGA events at Firestone Country Club, then spend the day eluding marshals as part of the army that trailed Arnold Palmer.

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