If you take some time to study the areas of the country in which you can find some of the very best golf in America, you will eventually land on Columbus, Ohio as a golf destination. Since Sean Ogle of Breaking Eighty and I routinely study these types of things, a trip was planned and an all-star itinerary was born.
When we first arrived in Columbus, instead of heading straight to the golf course, we took a local tip and headed straight to Super Chef's. With an array of breakfast options, we decided on "The Hulk," a green waffle sandwich with sausage, bacon, egg, and cheese. This waffle sandwich would play a surprisingly critical role in the trip's proceedings.
After "The Hulk" was consumed, it was off to Scioto Country Club for our first round of golf in Ohio. Things started off innocently enough until I noticed that Sean had his head down on the golf cart steering wheel. Sean would announce that he was not feeling well and then proceed to birdie the next two holes. Later on in the round, Sean would violently lose his waffle sandwich in the turn stand and then proceed to drain a handful of 20 footers.
In true "Breaking Eighty" form, Sean would break 80 along with a life long losing streak. I would shoot 80 to Sean's 79 and Sean would capture victory over me for the first time. It was a true Michael Jordan "Flu Game" moment. Apparently The Hulk punching around in Sean's stomach had given him some sort of magical golf powers.
After playing the course where Jack Nicklaus learned the game, Scioto, it was on to play Jack's crowning architectural achievement, Muirfield Village Golf Club.
Having grown up on a public executive course with a green fee of $5, I had no concept of how good golf courses could actually be. For a while, I thought executive meant that this is where high powered corporate executives play golf. As far as I was concerned, the 1905 yard course at Arlington Park was the bee's knees. That was until my Dad took me on a trip from Indiana to the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village. I remember standing behind the 14th green, just totally amazed. Only in my wildest dreams as a youngster, could I have imagined actually being able to play this golf course.
After an outstanding day at Muirfield Village, our power twosome would head out to The Golf Club. Out of all the golf clubs in the United States, this one is The Golf Club. We had heard good things coming in and the course would not have any trouble living up to it's name. The Golf Club was designed by Pete Dye in 1967 and Pete actually consulted with a 27 year old Jack Nicklaus on some of the potential shot options on the course.
Compared to some of Pete Dye's other designs, the features are less challenging, but significant in their subtlety. From what I can tell, it wasn't until the 1970's that Pete Dye started really hating golfers and the course falls into the category of courses you will want to play over and over. The course has a similar feel to Crooked Stick which was built around the same time.
While Sean recovered from his bought with The Hulk, I would turn a day of 18 into a day of 54 holes, with an afternoon visit to the Ohio State University Scarlet and Gray Golf Courses. With an executive course and a championship course both designed by Alister Mackenzie, these courses make a great addition to any Columbus trip. Pro tip: just don't show up in your Michigan gear.
Just as Sean's food poisoning was subsiding, we would run into a second obstacle when weather would force us to move things around due to wet and soggy conditions. Thinking quickly on our feet, we would be able to secure a tee time at the somewhat nearby Valhalla Golf Club. As far as replacement rounds go, this was about as good as it gets.
In addition to a world class golf course, Valhalla also has one of the coolest hang spots, or "man caves" I have ever seen at a golf course.
Complete with a putting green, full bar, and 2 Trackman simulators, the man cave provides the ultimate post game experience for those that can't get enough golf. In the photo, we are watching the PGA at Quail Hollow, while golfing at Bethpage Black in the basement of Valhalla. You could spend 2 days down there.
After honing or games on the simulators, it was time for one final round at the highly anticipated Camargo Club. Having already played one of Seth Raynor's designs at Shoreacres, I was pretty excited to get a second helping from the classic architect. As expected, we would not be let down.
Widely known for it's amazing collection of par 3's and huge greens, Camargo Club was an absolute blast to play. The club itself is very minimal compared to some of it's counterparts and has an brilliant classic feel to it.
As Sean was no longer suffering from stomach woes, his golf super powers had worn off and he suffered from a vicious streak of missed putts. I took it to him with a nice little 75 and all was right in the golf universe again.
Since we didn't end the trip with birdies, we decided to finish it off were we had began, with a local tip on a place to dine. Zip's Burgers is the place to go when in Cincinnati. The atmosphere is top notch with an electric train that runs around the ceiling of the eating area. Sean and I naturally would order up the Girth Burger and I would recommend it. This time the tip would pay off and we would sail out of town with satisfied and settled stomachs.