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|Water ruins the scorecard on the 15th hole at New Albany Links. (Jason Scott Deegan/TravelGolf)|
NEW ALBANY, Ohio -- That massive subdivision of more than 600 homes surrounding New Albany Links does take away something from the experience of playing golf here.
But it also gives something back to New Albany Links few other public courses have: A dynamic social scene and active membership privy to the spoils of country club life.
This semi-private club offers swim teams at a private pool, tennis courts, member events and a fine fitness center and pub/restaurant inside the cool clubhouse.
Thankfully, New Albany Links, located in a small, wealthy village 15 miles northeast of Columbus, welcomes golfers as guests and treats them like they are one of its 300 members, even if only for the day.
The houses are set back far enough that they're never in play, and there's a handful of holes in more natural, wooded settings to make up for the intrusion.
Local architect Barry Serafin, who cut his teeth under Jack Kidwell and Dr. Michael Hurdzan, designed the 7,004-yard course, which opened in 1999. Golf Digest named it one of the top new courses in the country in its "affordable" category in 2001. Golfstyles Ohio ranked it among the top 100 courses in the state in 2007.
New Albany Links strives for firm and fast conditions in season. With sloping greens, it can be a handful in the summer or when the wind is up.
"It plays different all the time," said Josh Jacobs, the head professional at New Albany Links. "It's in good condition. The wind, when it's up, it's really tight. The ball bounces into the fescue and trouble. When it's soft, it plays much longer than the yardage. It's really a good test of golf."
Meaty par 4s are the golf course's trademark, starting at the 449-yard first hole. The yardage guide warns this "could be the toughest opening hole in central Ohio."
The ninth is the round's toughest with water pinching the entire right side of the fairway. The 428-yard 12th requires a 190-yard carry just to reach the fairway. Water shelters the green, too. The 430-yard 13th is no pushover. It all ends dramatically at the 433-yard 18th hole, where the fairway boomerangs right. Ponds and a strategically placed tree guard an elevated green.
Rod Rice, of Westerville, Ohio, said the spacing of the tees allow players of any age or skill level to enjoy the course. The blues (6,570 yards), whites (6,228 yards) and gold tees (5,957 yards) are all options for the men.
"It is well laid out," he said.
If I had only had time for one round in New Albany, it would be a tough call choosing between Winding Hollow G.C. and New Albany Links. Since I'm a middling handicap with a schizophrenic game, I'd probably lean toward the wider fairways of New Albany Links. But for better players who crave a more communal experience in the great outdoors, all the trees and wetlands at Winding Hollow are the hands-down winner. The two courses actually complement each other quite well.
May 7, 2012
Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
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