Go back to school at Kent State with a round on the Windmill Lakes Golf Club in Ravenna
RAVENNA, Ohio -- It's been 10 years since that miracle Sunday when Ben Curtis, a relative unknown pro from nearby Stow, captured the world's oldest major, the 2003 Open Championship.
The accomplishment lives on at Windmill Lakes Golf Club. There's a picture of Curtis near the entrance to the clubhouse, and two boulders sporting plaques that honor Curtis sit near the putting green.
Curtis might have gone big-time, but he's still very connected to his roots.
Curtis, who won the 2012 Valero Texas Open for his third career PGA Tour victory, returned to Windmill Lakes earlier this summer for a round with a few of the current players of the Kent State University men's golf team. He honed his game at Windmill Lakes as a member of the Golden Flashes, graduating in 2000.
In many ways, Windmill Lakes -- located six miles from Kent State's campus -- and Curtis are a lot alike. They're both good, really good, just not quite recognized as top tier. They're both underappreciated underdogs. Windmill Lakes never shows up on the Golfweek or Golf Digest rankings of the state's top courses, although it's considered among the best public tracks in northeast Ohio. The National Golf Course Owners Association honored Windmill Lakes as its Ohio course of the year in 2011.
"It is a good middle-of-the-road course in terms of value," Twinsburg resident David Sullivan said before a recent round. "It is one of the courses we would play regularly. It is always enjoyable."
Windmill Lakes Golf Club: The course
Founded in 1970, Windmill Lakes fits the definition of a classic parkland course. Seven small lakes dot a natural landscape void of houses or commotion. The land rolls gently, providing just enough movement to stay interesting.
With just two par 5s, the 6,936-yard par-70 layout plays hard to get in relation to par. Big hitters can't feast on the par 5s, but they must fight for birdies on long demanding par 4s guarded by bunkers, narrow fairways and big greens.
From the 6,500-yard blue tees, six par 4s stretch to more than 400 yards, leaving average players hitting long irons and hybrids on approach shots. The 18th, a 418-yarder, is perhaps the best hole at Windmill Lakes. The fairway doglegs left before climbing uphill to a sloping, elevated green.
"The hazards are the trees," Sullivan said. "If you are just a little off the fairway, you've got trees in the way."
Herb Page, the head professional/director of golf at Windmill Lakes since 1977 and the head coach of the Golden Flashes for more than 30 years, is the engine that runs the club. He keeps the Shoppe at Windmill Lakes so stocked with merchandise that many locals use the clubhouse as their golf superstore, stocking up on the latest technology for the season.
Windmill Lakes Golf Club: The verdict
Windmill Lakes Golf Club won't wow golfers with scenic signature holes. Instead, it grinds their game into submission, especially testing the long game. It's a big boy golf course. A lucky visitor or two might even run into Curtis on the random chance he's in town to see Page.
July 10, 2013