Golf balls soar above the driving range and roll over tricky putt-putt greens at Southwest Golf Ranch, a practice facility designed to help golfers improve the full spectrum of their skills. With 2.5 acres of bent-grass hitting areas and 20 heated, covered hitting stalls outfitted with synthetic-turf mats, the range lets players choose their hitting surface or conceal their swing adjustments from spy drones sent by rival golfers. The mini-golf course features colorful flags, Lilliputian ponds, and wooden bridges that arch throughout the 18-hole layout, which is lighted for after-hours play.
Helmed by PGA pro and Director of Instruction Dave Stanton, Southwest Golf Ranch’s staff of instructors puts the facility’s resources to use in lessons and golf camps. The resident aces groom golfers’ swings with the help of video analysis and FlightScope swing tracking, the same technology used in the Ranch’s club fitting studio, which pairs golfers with their ideal clubs without forcing them to meet random sand wedges on the Internet.
Overlooking Bel-Wood Country Club’s manicured greens and fairways, the Grille Room prepares simmering heavily laden plates of American fare from an eclectic menu for customers from around Cincinnati. The barbecue-pulled-pork sandwich treats a lonely mound of tender, smoked pork waiting to be hugged between slices of bread ($8), and the Bel-Wood burger customizes a thick patty of Angus beef with interchangeable accessories to create a bacon burger, jalapeño burger, or arctic adventure burger ($9). The Grille Room’s entrees tempt taste buds with a prevailing nautical theme, exemplified in the house-made beer-battered fish and unassaulted chips ($14). With roasted fingerlings lounging sumptuously over wild-mushroom ragout, the seared salmon fillet ($17) caps off the Grille Room’s standard menu selections, but special dinner features every weekend promise serendipitous discoveries for patrons.
When prolific course designer Arthur Hills designed the original 18 holes at Shaker Run Golf Club in 1979, he bent the fairways and greens around Armco Park Lake, the site's central feature. The resulting layout features voluptuous fairways that hug the waterline, as well as several greens that teeter precipitously on the water's edge. Water hazards enter play 14 times in total, forcing golfers to double check their club choice and steel their nerves before committing to a strategy. An additional 9, dubbed the Meadows course, was added in 1999, bringing the facility to 27 holes on its 20th birthday.
Sculpted through a quaint, quiet 300-acre plot, Greentree Golf Club garnishes the hills of Warren County with nine holes that yield a tranquil golfing experience. Jodi Kinney, one of just six female golf-course architects in the nation, designed the course in 1999 and made it approachable for golfers of all skill levels by incorporating four sets of tees. To score anywhere near the par of 36, players must steer their shots down tunnels of bluegrass fairways cleaved between the outstretched limbs of towering trees. After reaching the bent-grass greens, players can putt confidently knowing they avoided the quicksand bunkers. On the scenic layout, players may encounter deer frolicking in the pastures or counting mulligans on their antlers.
Course at a Glance: