Forest Hills Country Club invites golfers of all skill levels to drive, chip, and putt their way around its private nine-hole course, buttressed by the Great Miami River and native forestation. The course measures 2,267 yards from the back tees and boasts five par 3s and four par 4s. Though it may not have any par 5s, Forest Hills makes up for distance in scoring difficulty, with just one par 3 measuring fewer than 150 yards and cups that sneeze every time a ball comes near them. After a round, players can visit the concession stand to replenish calories lost from swinging clubs or cartwheeling from hole to hole.
PB Dye designed the 18 executive-style, rye-grass fairways at ClearCreek to focus on golfers’ short games, letting players hit through a faster round while still challenging them with one lake and 11 sand bunkers. Golfers tee off at a choice of four different boxes, driving balls the farthest at the 14th hole—one of two par 4 holes on the course—and maneuvering delicately at the 7th to avoid a bunker and the water that ripples on the backside of the putting green. The practice range’s 22 heated and lighted stalls keep 9-irons warm and cozy, and two Full Swing Golf simulators invite golfers to pretend to tackle the best courses in the world no matter the weather outside. ClearCreek’s pro shop features a Callaway custom fitting center for players seeking a new club and stocks Callaway and Titleist golfing paraphernalia. On Sundays, ClearCreek sells adult beverages at the 15th hole’s twin bunkers, providing adults the liquid courage necessary to face down the course's fire-breathing prairie dogs.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par-56 course
Length of 3,028 yards from the farthest set of tees
Course rating of 57.0 from the farthest set of tees
Slope rating of 87 from the farthest set of tees
Four sets of tee boxes
Cincinnati Golf Center immerses visitors in practice for golf both miniature and normal-sized with 36 holes of mini golf as well as a grass tee area and a two-tier mat tee area. The two 18-hole mini-golf courses slink past obstacles such as water fountains, rocky areas, sloth-like groups ahead, and tricky upslopes and downslopes. A two-tier driving range features open air and covered mats and a natural grass area for players to hone their iron approaches and booming drives, while a pair of putting greens give them space to perfect long lags and tap-ins alike. With a heated bottom floor, customers can practice their golf game all year long.
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.