Course: Sugarbush Golf Club
Locations: Garrettsville, Portage County
Directions: Rt. 88, with access near Rt. 422 and Ohio Turnpike, and I-76
Driving Time: 50 minutes from Cleveland, 30 from Akron, 40 from Medina
Dewsweepers Tee Time Was: 648
It's always fun to look forward to playing a new course you have never played. We had always heard good things about Sugarbush, but our Sunday Morning Tour had never made it there. Why did we wait so long? Sugarbush is a gem of a golf course in every way. We can not tell you how much we loved this place in its entirety.
Sugarbush is out in the beautiful trees deep in Portage County built in the mid 1960's. It is a course of decent length, with a nice amount of everything to make this very challenging. Before we go on, we need to tell you this is "big boy" golf. Sugarbush is not a course really for beginners. More on that in a minute. But what Sugarbush is, is wonderfully unspoiled. A simple and quaint clubhouse, an old school golf course design, and real primitive authenticity to it that make this a really great golf experience. There are fancier, newer courses with bigger facilities, smoother cart paths, and a bigger sense of flash. But few public golf courses are a nice or as well designed as this.
642 AM - View from #1 Fairway. Great par 5 starting hole
This terrific track has a nice mix of sand, water, tons of trees, protected greens and a wonderful design. Par 72 with a story of 2 separate 9's. The front is longer, and a bit more open. But don't be fooled. This is a tough 9. Almost all greens are elevated and undulated, sloped and fast. And I mean very fast. A Facebook friend named Glenn Duncan posted, "STAY BELOW THE HOLE!" And that is apt. Sheesh! When we did, we played well. When we didn't we got chewed up. Also today, the course was a bit wet from the rains so there was no roll. Couple that with the soon-to-be-mentioned brutal pin placements and Sugarbush played about as difficult, and as long as it possibly could.
When reading the score card you think the back will play a bit easier, as it is 500 less yards, but you would be wrong. It is tighter with more blind shots, and more slick, and fast greens. On this Sunday, these greens were holding wonderfully, and putting exceptionally fast. With murderous pin locations that made this insanely challenging. Many pins were way up front, or very deep, and the ones that were center, were seldom on a flat area. There are many false fronts on these elevated greens that make your approach shots really tough. And although it didn't happen to me, there were a few short shots made today that rolled back to us after not making it to the greens.
And putting? The greens were fast and true, and did pretty much what you thought they would. They were borderline perfect for thie early in the season. But speed is everything here. If you were above the hole, you better make the putt, or you were looking at a tough comeback. 3 putting and a difficult short game is where we all lost our rounds. But, this is a fair course. You just need to play it a time or two. And we will. You also have to decide where on the greens you want the ball before you approach. Tough for all us amateurs. I will post the scores in a few, and it should be noted, we all hit the ball very well, and kept it in play most of the time. But pretty much all strokes over our normal scores were on and around the greens. You don't play many public courses that are this tough approaching and around the greens.
The Caboose Bridge over a creek near #15 green and #16 tee
There is a wonderful authenticity to this place that is tough to replicate. Up hill, down hill, twisting and turning with a great mixture of everything you want when you play a tough course. The rates are very good for this level of play, and the service was incredibly friendly, and they even have a "course dog" Tuna, that greets you early in the morning when you arrive as we did at 630 today.
Tuna, the course dog, watching us play #18
Sugarbush. This golf course and experience is sensational in every single way. One play, and it's already one of our favorites. Worth the drive from anywhere. And although a friendly place, this course will be enjoyed far more by golfers that can play well overall, very challenging. As an amateur if you shoot around bogey golf as we did, you have done well. To score here, you must have a well above average short game. We can't wait to go back. And we will later this summer.
Beef - 90
Wynn - 91
Bryan - 93
Joe Red - 96
Next week, we tee it up at Astorhurst in the Metroparks.
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