Irish Eyes are Smiling at Golf Club of Dublin
The luck of the Irish isn’t confined to leprechauns and those who kiss the Blarney Stone. It also extends to those fortunate enough to travel and play the wind-swept fairways of Dublin, where sweeping heather, hand stacked sod-faced bunkers and rock walls mix with vintage, four-cornered greens. This is Old World golf in its purest form, void of the hazards, trappings and shenanigans of modern-day course architecture.
This is no fairy tale. This is the Golf Club of Dublin. Dublin, Ohio, that is. And it is here, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Columbus, where TeeTime Golf Pass members can experience perhaps the truest example of Irish links-stye golf this side of the Atlantic.
Opened for play in May 2002, the Golf Club of Dublin doesn’t just imitate a slice of Ireland. It captures it to a tee. So much so you’ll be hard-pressed to believe the property was once a flat, featureless cornfield — at least until course architect Dr. Michael Hurdzan and his design partner Dana Fry arrived on the scene. Their plan from the start was to create a user-friendly course with a distinctive British Isles’ flair. What central Ohio golfers got was a layout that will make you feel as if you’ve just played Ballybunion or Royal County Down.
The Golf Club of Dublin is one of six daily-fee golf facilities in Ohio operated by New Era Golf, each one dedicated to enhancing a player’s overall enjoyment from the time they pull into the parking lot. Dublin’s Tudor-style clubhouse, for example, sets the tone for the Irish theme and is ideal for kicking back a quick pint on the second story patio or hanging around with your cairde after a round. The accompanying pro shop, pub and outdoor pavilion, along with the spacious practice areas, equal that of most private clubs.
That same Irish vibe carries over to the course, as well. Unlike some replica facilities that try way too hard to be “authentic,” the layout avoids gimmickry and threads the needle between being fun for the mid-to-high handicapper while still posting a challenge for the scratch player. The par-72 design measures 7,021 yards from the back tees and a more manageable 6,363 yards from the regular men’s markers. The mostly treeless fairways are wide and receptive, and cater to the casual golfer. However, 16 of the holes are flanked by water hazards and the oversized square-shaped greens tend to be lightning quick. And then there’s the 78 sod-walled bunkers and hundreds of yards of hand-built stone walls that define each hole and give Dublin its distinctive Irish tilt.
One other noticeable feature is that there are usually multiple paths to par on each hole. So while the “openness” of the course can boost your confidence level, it is the golfer that can strategically “think his way” around the course who will dance the last jig. All of the holes are named, with monikers such as “Scotch & Water,” “Walk the Plank” and, fittingly, the closing hole “Pot of Gold.”
Dublin opens with a relatively mild first hole, a 374-yard par 4 appropriately named “Prelude.” It offers a harbinger of what golfers can expect throughout the round, with stone walls lining both sides of the fairway. The layout pours the stout thicker at Nos. 5 and 6, two classic back-to-back par 5s that offer birdie chances. The sixth is especially impressive, with its rock walls, pot bunkers and snaking rivulet that crawls down the right side of the fairway. The front nine ends with a 400-yard par 4 called “The Wall.” And for good reason. A fieldstone backstop hugs the rear fringe of the deep, undulating green and approaches that come in hot can actually bounce off the wall and end up close to the pin.
The back side offers its share of risk-reward opportunities, and plenty more of the sod bunkers and water retention areas. It also features two of the best finishing holes in the greater Columbus area. Number 17 is a long par 3 (191 yards from the regular markers; 230 yards from the back tees) with a stone wall placed perpendicular to the tees and green. The back of the hole is protected by water, creating a stunning visual frame for the green. The 351-yard No. 18 is not particularly difficult, but is stunningly beautiful. The wide fairway is bordered on the right by a pond and on the left by the ever-present stacked-sod bunkers. Behind the elevated green, the clubhouse rises like a fortress above the one-time flat and spiritless landscape.
The Golf Club of Dublin’s aim to create an authentic Irish experience in the middle of what once a Mid-Western cornfield might sound a bit farfetched. But’s that exactly what the management staff, clubhouse and course delivers. Routinely ranked among Ohio’s best public venues, Dublin immerses golfers into the traditions of the game without going over-the-top with its depiction. For that, golfers who play there can thank their lucky charms.