GALENA, Ohio -- Royal American Links is marketed as "central Ohio's best-kept secret" for a reason.
It's a place so hard to find that pro shop workers regularly take calls from lost golfers looking for directions. Royal American isn't just off the beaten path. It's almost off the grid entirely, well northeast of Columbus.
"You've got to come out here once to get your bearings straight," admitted Jason Shelton, the assistant general manager at Royal American Links.
Thankfully, the end of the road is always worth the journey.
Royal American was built to be a private club, so all the pieces of a great golf experience are there. The 18,000-square-foot clubhouse does its best castle impersonation with a stone exterior. Architect Michael Hurdzan gave the course a links feel on 143 acres of mostly flat farmland and woods. Fescue grasses -- not houses -- line many of the holes.
Where it deviates from the links theme is all the water in play. The 190-yard 12th uses water to entertain and intimidate players. Small streams or wetlands cross fairways on 1, 3, 14 and 18.
"The course is a lot of fun to play. It is challenging every day," said member Larry Conti. "There are some nemesis holes and ones you can score on."