Rural heritage makes EagleSticks worth the drive

By Jason Stahl, Contributor

ZANESVILLE, Ohio -- There's a very good reason why golf freaks should visit EagleSticks Golf Club: Golf Digest ranked it one of the top 100 golf courses in the country in 2003.

But there are so many more reasons, too, and most are not related to golf.

Take, for instance, the quaint town of Zanesville. Take a drive through and you'll wonder why news about JFK's assassination isn't streaming out of your car radio. A lot of the store signage hasn't changed since the '60s, and the buildings themselves look retro as well.

Pottery may not give a blood rush to some people, but tell that to the local hotel managers. They forget the meaning of vacancy each year during Zanesville's annual pottery festival. It probably doesn't rival Daytona's annual bike week, but.

If you think you've heard of Zanesville before, chances are it's because of the world-famous Tom's Ice Cream Bowl. Ice cream lovers all over the country rave about this place. What a better way to melt away memories of a 98 at EagleSticks than a double scoop of pistachio, eh?

And if you're just dying to cure your jungle fever, you're in luck. One of the world's largest wild game preserves, The Wilds, is just down the road in Cumberland. You can go native with rhinos, giraffes, camels and gazelles that are running around on 9,154 acres of land.

The attractions hardly stop at the Dr. Mike Hurdzan-designed EagleSticks. Most golfers miss it the first time around, but ask the pro about the cemetery on the first tee. That's right, the cemetery. Make that a pet cemetery, one that would have Stephen King eating his heart out. Built on the site of the McClelland family's horse farm, the golf course left the resting places of Dad's favorite hunting dog Boots and trophy trotters OK Mac, OK Dick and the Little Champ untouched. Don't worry - it's nearly impossible to hit your ball behind one and have to take a drop from a definitely immovable obstruction.

Another reminder of EagleSticks' rural heritage is on no. 11, a hole that was rated by Golf Digest as one of the "Best 18 Holes You Can Play" in 1997. A 591-yard par-5, it plunges downhill and over a creek, then twists around a stand of sycamores to a wide but shallow green. Along the way is an old corncrib (for you city folk, that's a place where you store ears of Indian corn) that was converted into five tin-roofed walking bridges for golfers.

On the scorecard, EagleSticks may look like the kind of course you can take behind the woodshed and horsewhip, but think again. The fact that it only plays 6,124 yards from the blue tees and has five par-4s under 350 yards doesn't mean you'll automatically be walking away at the end of the day with your best score ever.

"The large, undulating greens put a premium on your short game," says Head Golf Professional Kelly Morrow. "Plus, the rough is severe enough and there are enough hanging lies to make it tough to score well."

Like many public upscale golf courses, EagleSticks has faced increasingly stiff competition since opening in 1991 and being one of only two such courses in Southern Ohio. The audience then was anyone who wanted the country club experience for a day. Now, "it's whoever we can get out here," Morrow says.

Because of competition, EagleSticks has had to cut costs and do more with less. As a result, customer service has declined a bit. Depending on what time of the day you arrive, there may not be someone there to grab your clubs out of the trunk for you. The driving range is pretty basic, and the on-site restaurant/bar, Mac's, is average at best.

On the plus side, you'll be paying the same greens fees as you would have in 1997. GPS is available, although you'll pay for it after the first two holes. And ,unlike a lot of new courses, EagleSticks isn't built around a housing development, so there's no chance your ball will end up in the martini glass of some yuppie reading the Wall Street Journal on his stamped concrete patio.

Where to eat

Tom's Ice Cream Bowl
532 McIntire Ave.
Zanesville, Ohio 43701
(740) 452-5267

Old Market House Inn
424 Market St.
Zanesville, Ohio 43701
(740) 454-2555

The Longaberger Homestead Restaurant
5563 Raiders Rd.
Frazeysburg, Ohio 43822
(740) 322-5588

Stay and play

Comfort Inn
500 Monroe St.
Zanesville, Ohio 43701
(740) 454-4144

Fairfield Inn
725 Zane St.
Zanesville, Ohio 43701
(740) 453-8770


Mon.-Fri. 18 holes & cart $40; senior rate 50 and over $27; after 2:30 p.m. $25
Sat.-Sun. 18 holes & cart $50; after 2:30 p.m. $25

Directions: From Cleveland, take I-77 south to I-70 west via exit #44B. Travel to exit #155 and turn left onto OH-146/Oh-60/Underwood St. Turn right onto US-22/OH-93/Marietta St. and travel about four miles to EagleSticks.

Jason StahlJason Stahl, Contributor

Jason Stahl currently works for Medquest Communications in Cleveland, Ohio, as Editorial Manager. Prior to joining Medquest, he spent five years with Advanstar Communications as Managing Editor of Landscape Management, a trade magazine covering the professional landscaping business. He graduated from St. Ignatius High School in 1989 and John Carroll University in 1993.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Course needs major updating

    ron wrote on: Sep 17, 2009

    The sand traps should be raked at least once a year. Average at best course. It has gone in the toilet since it was rated in the top 100. My lawn looks better than this course. Save your money and go to Longaberger.


  • eagle sticks

    DAVE wrote on: Sep 1, 2005

    this coarse needs reavaluated . the range has little if any grass on it. the " mud traps" are terrible your better off removing the ball from them if you can find it from the water that is there. last time i played there #3 green was mud,and so was 70% of the tee boxes this place needs some major's not even in the top 3 in zanesville anymore not even including longaberger.