Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Course Review: StoneWater Golf Club

In golf, the first hole is often referred to as a “handshake hole.” These holes are generally short to mid-length, with few hazards and a fairly docile green to gently close things out. This is not the case at StoneWater Golf Club in Highland Heights, Ohio.

StoneWater, a Hurdzan-Fry design, opens with the No. 1 handicap hole, so tighten those laces, limber up and make sure you’re prepared to be challenged from the word “go.” From the tips, the opening hole isn’t obnoxiously long (432 yards), but the dogleg-right Par 4 is well protected by bunkers, and water sits to the right of the green. Safely on in regulation? The two-tiered green requires a golfer to be on the right level. I wasn’t and paid the price with a three-putt bogie.

Survive the first and you’re greeted with the 464-yard Par 4 second and 201-yard Par 3 third. If the length of No. 3 doesn’t scare you, all the water you carry off the tee wraps around to the back-right and demands accuracy. There’s no bailing out left, either, as a pair of traps grab those playing away from water.

The opening trio is as demanding as any golfer would want. You can catch your breath on holes 4-8 (I played them at even par), but be prepared for No. 9. The closing hole on the outward half is a 470-yard Par 4 with an uphill approach to the green. The fairway is generous, which is good because a driver helps off the tee if you plan on hitting the green in regulation.

No. 10 ... Here’s the handshake we were looking for two hours ago. While not without its defenses, the 365-yard Par 4 is certainly more friendly than its front nine counterpart.

Of note on the back nine is No. 13 - a 625-yard Par 5 that demands both length and accuracy. With trees on both sides and a forced carry on your second shot, this is target golf at its finest. I chose to go with a 3-wood off the tee and planned on hitting a hybrid iron to the 150-yard marker. Unfortunately, a poor second left me with another hybrid into the green. I was lucky to escape with a two-putt par.

Big hitters unhappy with not being able to go for No. 13 in two will be pleased to know that the following hole is reachable off the tee - with a bomb. At 335 yards from the tips, average hitters can take less than a driver and still enjoy a short- to mid-length iron into this green.

By handicap, No. 16 is considered the third-most-difficult hole on the back, but I wouldn’t argue with anyone who said it was the hardest. With houses to the left, trees to the right and a bunker in the landing zone, this dogleg-right is demanding from tee to green. The double bogie I suffered here would solidify the argument.

StoneWater Golf Club is a residential layout and houses do creep in on a few tee shots, but for the most part it’ll take a pretty crooked shot to disturb the peace. At 7,060 yards from the tips, it’s important to play the right set of tees.I generally hit between 260-270 with my driver, so I played one set in (6,674 yards), which was ideal for me. My handicap index is 8.4 and I shot 80 (38-42) on this Par 71 (35-36).

The golf carts are equipped with state-of-the-art GPS units, but I reviewed the GolfLogix app while playing. Check out that review HERE.

This course hosted the Nationwide Tour’s Legend Group Classic from 2005-07, so you know it has chops. It’s the site of PGA Tour star Jason Day’s first professional win, too.

For more information on StoneWater Golf Club, visit www.stonewatergolf.com.

Contact: NEOhioGolf@yahoo.com

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