These days, Cincinnati offers some real golf bargains
It's hard to categorize Cincinnati as an overlooked city. But these days, the Queen city's lack-o-growth has led to some real golf bargains. Despite urban shrinkage and botched first round draft picks from the NFL's Bengals, Cincy residents still have few things to look forward to. Like golf, for instance.
Where else can you play golf on land once owned by a President? And where else can you play a round while jets land and take off directly above you. It may seem a bit distracting, but a fine homage to the home of the Wright brothers nonetheless. These places, Aston Oaks Golf Club and Reeves Golf Course respectively, are just a few of the unique courses in Cincinnati.
At Aston Oaks Golf Club the course is sculpted through stands of great white oak and hickory and other native hardwoods. It is also laid out over and across a former presidential estate: the initial stake of President William Henry Harrison.
Opened four years ago and designed by Tom Pearson, the course oozes history. The main creek that winds near No. 13 and through No. 16 was the waterway that turned the first mill in Southern Ohio. The foundations of President Harrison's old mill can still be seen today, about 280 yards out on No. 16 above the creek on the left side of the fairway. The 342-yard No. 12 - a par 4, looks toward Harrison's tomb, seen as a spire in the near distance.
Stone walls encircle par three greens, sweeping doglegs are well-bunkered and some provide rare hilltop and tee-box views of the wide Ohio River. All true Ohioans should appreciate the giant tree between the 10th tee and 11th green. It is the largest Buckeye in the state and a national champion.
There is some golf to be played as well, if you can pull yourself away the history and scenery. Most holes duck in and out of the woods. No. 3, at 439 yards from the gold tees, may be the best hole on the course. It has a double-wide fairway split with a bunker and waste pocket in the center of the fairway. An approach from the left side is mandatory for the big hitter. The back nine's greens hold irons well and the fairway turf is like carpet.
One of seven public courses owned by the city, Reeves Golf Course can‘t hide its distractions, but it doesn‘t try to either. On some holes - many in fact - a built-in mobile gallery of bikers, hikers, roller-bladers and runners parade past. They are here to use the nearby jogging path, the most popular hiking trail in the city.
This is just the beginning. Planes glide into their landings over Reeves like great white birds, some with roaring jet engines, others strangely silent but still swift. They fly with great regularity - it seems like one a minute at times - over dozens of golfers splayed out on the course below. This is because the course is right smack on the glide path to Lunken Airport, a small municipal airport next to the flat but lengthy 18 holes along the Little Miami River valley.
North Carolina and Ohio may squabble over the legacy of the Wright brothers, but you won't see this many planes above any course in North Carolina. On lucky weekends, too, the airport is flush with classic planes of the Cincinnati Warbirds and you might see a sleek two-man T-34A Mentor or old bi-plane.
Golfers will find that the fairways might as well be airport runways. The extra wide fairways run along the historic floodplain where pioneers first landed in their flatboats. Elevated greens help prevent a swampy mess during rainy seasons. Reeves is long and some of the small bent grass greens are best approached on the second or third bump Scottish style, if only to take the wind out of play.
While Reeves may not sound appealing to everyone, it has as much character as all the courses in some states. All of Cincinnati's unique courses offer options for golfers in a city often overlooked by vacationers.
- Walden Ponds Golf Club: Easy Like Sunday Morning
- Reeves Golf Course: Fairways as Wide as Texas
- Indian Valley Golf Course: A taste of classic blue-collar golf in Ohio
- The Vineyard Golf Course: Country Club Ambience at an Affordable Price
- Friendly Meadows Golf Course: Keeping it in the Family
- Aston Oaks Golf Club: In a League of its Own
- Indian Ridge Golf Club
- Hoosier Hillsides and Pristine Vistas at Sugar Ridge Golf Course