Winding Hollow near Columbus: Former private golf course opens its doors to the masses
NEW ALBANY, Ohio - Strolling around Winding Hollow's grounds, just east of Columbus Ohio, from the shady paths to the stately brick clubhouse with white pillars in front overlooking the 18th, you can't help but feel the aura of an exclusive private club.
That's no coincidence. This was a property intended to be private and is still in its infancy as a public golf course. The course was originally built in 1991 by Toledo-based architect Arthur Hills and was founded as a members-only club.
It wasn't until 2007 that membership chose to pack up shop. New ownership purchased the facility and spent several months revamping the course, which had been closed and not kept up, and finally opened the course on June 29, 2007.
In an area where some of the top private clubs in the country dwell, like Pete Dye's The Golf Club just around the corner and Jack Nicklaus' Muirfield Village Golf Club, today Winding Hollow makes for an affordable public course amongst greater Columbus' many golf courses.
Today, the same Hills course remains, as well as exceptional conditioning, including fast and firm bent grass greens. And although a recent storm earlier this fall did knock down some trees, plenty remain.
As much as any on the golf course, the first few holes require great precision off the tee, playing through tall trees on either side that keep the fairways shaded at most times of the day.
On the par-4 second hole, two tall tree trunks that criss-cross each other serve as your aiming line before dog-legging left to a smallish green that requires a delicate approach. The front nine remains tight, and No. 9 can be the tightest, especially for right-to-left ball flights. It's best to take less club than you think here, as going through the fairway by even a few yards puts you in jail for your approach shot.
Other spots on the course are tight thanks to large water hazards.
At first glance, the par-4 seventh is a welcomed open vista, before seeing a pond run nearly the entire length of the hole down the right side. With bunkers down the left, it's one of the course's most penal tee shots.
The back nine of the course features a little more water than the front side, including a tricky par-3 12th that plays just 135-155 yards over water to a very narrow, steeply sloped green that gives you a lot to think about. For starters, any type of hook finds you in the drink left, but if you find yourself above the hole, you're left with a slippery putt that will be near impossible to leave close to the hole. Mounds and such right of the green don't make for a very easy up-and-down either.
The culminating 18th hole affords a couple more chances to surrender a few balls to the water gods, thanks to a large pond that comes into play on both the lay-up shot and the approach shot to a snaky green, where surely there will be a few eyes watching from the clubhouse porch.
Winding Hollow: The verdict
Winding Hollow is an enjoyable Arthur Hills design that feels mature beyond its years with the atmosphere of a classic club. It can be very tight in spots, especially on the front side, so longer hitters shouldn't plan on hitting their driver 14 times.
Its length of just under 6,900 yards from the championship tees and under 6,400 from the blue set should not be underestimated. There are five sets of tees total, playing as short as 4,700 yards.
That said, it's a very leisurely course to play and offers different looks, from tight doglegs through trees to more open, water-heavy holes.
The clubhouse serves pub-type food, nothing too fancy, though banquet space is available for weddings and outings.
November 24, 2008