6,162 yards, 117 slope from the Blacks

Course:  Not too far from the Pennsylvania border lies Poland, OH, home of Reserve Run GC.  I was in western PA and as I’m trying to play in all 50 states, with Ohio being one of the states I needed to play in, RR was one of the courses that came recommended to me that was just over the border.  Reserve was designed by Barry Serafin, an architect who has done a good number of projects in the Ohio and surrounding states, which include Foxfire and New Albany Links, both of which were on the best places to play lists when they opened.  Reserve Run has a 4 star rating with Golf Digest and is regarded as one of the better Ohio public courses.

Reserve Run is a parkland course that sits along a river, which runs through rolling terrain and encounters a good number of various water hazards.  The course plays tight in place, but does well in opening up and staying playable.  The scenery is terrific and the greens were very good.  We all found the course played a little tough and it definitely felt much more difficult than its 117 slope.  The routing was also well laid out, with each hole standing on its own identity.  While there was some risk/reward, course management was rather straight forward and not a whole lot of creativity was required.  Regardless, it was a nice play and if I lived in the area, I’d play here often.

A group of us played here early in the morning then were heading back over to PA for an afternoon round.  The clubhouse is modest but had everything we needed, but as it stood on top of a ridge and overlooked an adjacent river, the view was fantastic.  Once we received one of the longest speeches from a starter I’ve ever listened to, we were off to the First for a nice little round, my first in Ohio.

The First is a 504 par 5 (from the Blacks).  The opening tee is elevated to the fairway and while it appears tree lined from the fairway, starts to open up about 200 yards out.  There is a road on the left though, so any shots too far over in that direction will turn into quite a second shot.  Rough is on either side of the fairway, which runs straight up to the green, which undulates and bumps but generally runs from back to front.  The green separates this hole from standard parkland fare while the fairway swales give it character.

The First

Moving down the fairway

The Second is a 195 yard par 3.  The hole is wide open for this longer par 3, with a false front to goad you into hitting it short, although anything long off the green gets tough quick.  The bail out room short and right offsets much of the challenge of the distance of this hole.

The Second

The Third is a 408 yard par 4.  It’s a slight dog leg right defined by trees on the left, but there’s room on the right with rough more to the offside.  The bunkering in front of the green is nicely done, forcing the choice of carrying it to the green or trying to go around it if you prefer to run up to the green.

The Third

Approach shot territory

The Fourth is a 182 yard par 3.  A larger green with different tees makes this hole versatile depending on the pin placement.  The generous bail out room short and right takes a lot of the intimidation out of the hole, but I could see how a pin placed on the left side of the green brings a green side bunker into play and creates a nice tempting choice.

The Fourth

A nice view of the river off to the left of the tee shot

The Fifth is a 343 yard par 4.  The hole climbs gently and flutters a little to the right before reaching the green, that seems to terrace back to front and right to left.  It’s a nicely done par 4.

The Fifth

Approach shot territory

The Sixth is a 572 par 5.  The the is slightly elevated and while the hole is straight for the most part, angles off to the left at about 11:00.  While the hole starts off wide and open, it narrows down as you get closer to the green, which has a nice bail out area off to the right, but the green is fairly small.

A 572 par 5, but some how the slope is 117.  It really makes no sense to me.

The Sixth

Approach shot territory

The Seventh is a 375 yard par 4.  The last three holes of this nine really assert themselves and you get some very different holes requiring very different shots.  This hole is a very interesting par 4 nestled right next to the river, which is very much in play.  The hole dog legs sharply to the right around the hill side, which runs from right to left and completely obstructs the green, making it a total blind shot.  While the gut reaction is to hit it further to the right, away from the water, all of the room on this hole is closer to the water.  This hole certainly rewards repeat play, intimidates and requires two very good shots to get to the green.

The Seventh

Moving down the fairway into approach shot territory

A look at the green from the left side

The Eighth is a 219 par 3.  This hole is all carry over water to the wide yet shallow green.  There really isn’t any hiding from this one.  I mean, you could hit it way to the right, over on the Ninth tee like someone in my group did (not me), but otherwise, this hole squarely challenges your acumen with the long clubs and doesn’t give you much room for error.  Picturesque and challenging, very good combo.

The Eighth

Looking back at the tee from the green

The Ninth is a 364 yard par 4.  While I didn’t get a photo of it, the tee shot is a forced carry to the fairway, which humps up and blocks the view of the fairway.  The approach shot is to the green sitting to the left of the fairway while anything off to the right drops off the hillside.  It’s another solid par 4.

Approach shot territory

The front nine features a variety of holes on different sets of terrain: through the woods, along the river and in the hills.  The Fifth through Ninth really held my interest and while there was lot of scenery, the challenge also turned on.  Ranking them, I’d go 5, 7, 9, 8, 6, 3, 1, 2, 4.

The back nine starts with the 503 yard par 5 Tenth.  From an elevated tee, the fairway dog legs left and up the green.  The fairway narrows as you get to the green and the second shot can be tricky, lining up where you want your third shot to be in such a smaller landing area.  A nicely placed yet template dog leg par 5.

The Tenth

Moving down the fairway

The Eleventh is a 195 yard par 3.  While this is another forced carry over water from the a longer distance, it plays much different than the Eighth.  The tee shot is more visually intimidating, but there is bail out room off to the left, although there’s also a bunker to collect the poorest of shots.  It’s a pleasing hole when  you hit a nice shot and with its heroic characteristics, was certainly one of the more memorable ones.

The Eleventh

The Twelfth is a 308 yard par 4.  A lot of temptation on this one, as the hole is all downhill nd with how short it is, many will be tempted to go for the green.  Those who don’t will have a short to mid iron to the fairway and a short approach in, yet any shot to the green must carry water.

The Twelfth

Approach shot territory

The Thirteenth is a 373 yard par 4.  This Cape hole bends to the right around a ravine, but many will be tempted to cut off the turn for the shorter approach shot.  I actually think the tree on the inside of the turn should be taken out, to fully emphasize the Cape feature and make that temptation to get close to the ravine much greater.

The Thirteenth

Moving up to the green

The Fourteenth is a 357 yard par 4.  While the hole is pretty much straight, the placement of the tee and the green force different angles to get to the green.  There are bunkers below the tee area that come into play even on well struck tee shots.  The hole almost demands a draw, as the bushes on the left block out a straight shot in that direction.

The Fourteenth

The Fifteenth is a 136 yard par 3.  This shorter par 3 is some what of a blind drop shot if the pin is in the front of the green, but otherwise give you a lot of green to work with although putting can be tough.  It’s a good short one that still maintains some challenge with the green complex.

The Fifteenth

The Sixteenth is a 529 yard par 5.  Probably the most elevated tee of the course is out to a nice generous fairway and up to the green.  There are some mounds and bunker off to the right side of the fairway as you get closer to the green.  Not much to this hole.

The Sixteenth

The Seventeenth is a last par 3 at 169 yards.  The green is big and there is ample bail out room short of the green, but the green is the main defense to this hole.

The Seventeenth

The Eighteenth is a 430 yard par 4.  Things toughen up considerably on the last hole, as the narrower fairway snakes up to the raised green, demanding precision on each shot and it plays much longer than the stated yardage.  In fact, I thought I parred the hole when I putted in, but had to be reminded it was actually a par 4.  It’s one of the more challenging holes on the course.

The Eighteenth

Moving up the fairway

The back nine started strong, but the routing and interest started to wane on the final holes.  I’d rank them 11, 12, 18, 16, 13, 10, 15, 14, 17.

Generally, Reserve Run had a lot of nicely designed holes that were intriguing and challenging.  While it also had some standard holes, the scenery and greens typically gave them enough character to keep the interest going.  The series of holes from the Fifth through the Thirteenth was the highlight for me though, and was a great play.  With the great conditions, very reasonable green fee and friendly staff, Reserve Run is is a nice course and the folks of Poland, Ohio are lucky to have it.

Gripes:  No driving range and no cart girl.  Neither were deal breakers but worth mentioning.  Also, the slope rating is terrible.

Bar/Grill:  A great outdoor area overlooking the river, but not much in the way of inside.

Practice area:  A putting green, but no driving range.

Clubhouse:  Small, but the few things it has make for a nice selection of equipment and apparel.

Nearby:  I am not too much help here.  We drove in and drove out.

Getting there:  Take the PA turnpike west into Ohio, then it’s about 20 minutes to the course.