Reaching Halfway the Longa Way

Today was designed to be my most “relaxing” day of this trip because I knew the first half and last half of the vacation would be pretty hardcore with a lot of golf and driving. Today, I had only one round of golf in mind and I was happy to stick with my plan as my body is pretty beat up from head to toe after six rounds in the last three days (not to mention many hours of driving in between and little sleep).

My destination today was Longaberger Golf Club in Nashport, OH. This is widely considered Ohio’s top public track. I specify “public” because Ohio is also known for a number of the country’s best private courses such as Muirfield Village and Firestone.

My tee time was 9:10 and I was set to play again with the friend I met through Greenskeeper.org. He had some connections and was able to hook us up with a discounted rate, as well as a free bag tag to add to my collection! I stayed in Columbus last night and the course is about 45 minutes east of town. Ohio also marks the 25th state I’ve played in America, so I am now officially halfway toward my goal!

I didn’t know much about the history of Longaberger Golf Club, but I learned some things today. On the way to the course, I was driving along and noticed an unusual looking building coming up. From a distance, it looked to be in the shape of a bucket, but as I got closer I realized it was a basket. Very cool looking building (picture below). As I got closer, I saw the sign on the side that said “Longaberger” and I was surprised. I knew it wasn’t the clubhouse because I was still several miles from the course, but it definitely caught my attention.

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In the Longaberger clubhouse, I saw many wicker decorative items for sale, so it didn’t take me long to realize what the company was about. Turns out they are a producer of very high-end baskets and home decor accessories. My friend later explained that Mr. Longaberger had the golf course built especially for his employees, bringing in famed golf architect Arthur Hills to craft the layout. I’m actually surprised that they didn’t use the old-timey wicker baskets on the pins like I saw at Sea Island last year.

The course became so popular and well-regarded, it eventually opened to the public and has since become one of Ohio’s premier golf destinations.

I also really didn’t know a ton about the course itself. I was kind of expecting a plains/prairie look with lots of long grasses framing the holes and undulating hills. There were a couple of holes like that, but the rest of the course was much more dynamic than I realized. A lot of great elevation changes, twists and turns as you go through the hills and woods. A lot of big sweeping doglegs and fun risk/reward options. The course features plenty of variety from hole-to-hole and it’s a really beautiful setting around the course. I was definitely impressed with it on all levels.

The conditions were excellent and the service was top-notch. The clubhouse is huge and stunning. It sits on the top of the hill and overlooks much of the course. We had lunch in the grill there afterward and the food was very tasty, as well.

On all levels, Longaberger is a great course and a definite must-play if going through the Columbus area. It’s one to add to my ever-expanding basket of great golf courses I’ve been able to experience on this trip!

Some pictures from Longaberger Golf Club (8/15/12):

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Great view of massive clubhouse above 18th green:

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Great view from clubhouse of super-tough 18th hole:

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After Longaberger, I headed southwest toward Cincinnati, where I am staying tonight. I had also planned to attend the Reds game tonight (versus the Mets) and had bought an excellent seat in the first row above the Reds’ dugout.

The Great American Ball Park was a fun stadium. It’s right in the downtown riverfront area and the Bengals stadium is also right there. Very cool vibe here like you’ll find at other downtown-style parks. I can see why hitters like this stadium because it definitely feels “small” there. I saw three massive home runs from the Reds and it was a fun game overall, even though I was quietly rooting for the Mets because I had their pitcher, R.A. Dickey, in my fantasy baseball lineup. He got lit up tonight, but it was still a fun experience.

Some pictures from The Great American Ball Park:

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Previous Day: Cog Hill (IL)

Next Day: Old Silo (KY) and Stonehenge (TN)

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