There are regions of the U.S. that are always linked to great golf. Hilton Head, South Carolina. West Palm Beach, Florida. Augusta, Georgia. California’s Monterey Peninsula. But, the Hocking Hills of rural Ohio never make that list.
While a few days playing the regions courses might not make a case for muscling in on the reputations of golf’s most hallowed ground, they make it clear folks would be surprised to find the mix of quality and affordability in its golf courses.
A particular local favorite is the Hocking Hills Golf Club just outside Logan, Ohio. I had a chance to spend a glorious afternoon there recently during a whirlwind tour of the area — if anything other than a twister would send a whirlwind through such a quiet and humble town.
The clubhouse is modest, but properly equipped with anything the golfer would need to play on a given day or to buy gifts for other players. There’s ample banquet space for the locals and their myriad of small town events. The interconnected Urban Grille has all the trappings of a golf course restaurant with the warm lighting, wood-lined walls and a menu of pub food. But, visitors should watch out for the daily specials which aspire to show a little more than what you might expect from a rural Ohio restaurant.
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Once out on the turf, players can warm up on an open fairway driving range before embarking on the 18-hole regulation golf course. The fairways are lush, feeding into surrounding forests. Fortunately, the fairways are wide and forgiving — and the course design by Jack Kidwell includes an occasional bowl effect to help keep a ball in some semblance of play.
The Hocking Hills Golf Club plays a par 71 course, currently measured at 5,861 yards. The greens are in presentable shape, and the tee boxes offer a bit of bent grass as a show of style. But, the real surprise and charm of Hocking Hills is its elevation changes. There are significant hills in play along its 18 holes — some big enough to tax the capabilities of an electric cart. That all makes for some beautiful elevated tees and the occasional upward march to challenging greens. Elevation makes what could be a straightforward, dull park style course into something a lot more challenging and fun.
With all that ahead of you as it comes time to pay for your round, you might feel like your somehow stealing golf for greens fees of $35 per 18 holes. I’ve played courses where that amount of money barely gets you a cart, let alone a full round. The quality of the grounds, mixed with the aspirational nature of the course, make Hocking Hills one of better golf bargains I’ve played in the last year.