Rating the toughest holes on our five local public golf courses

There are five golf courses in our area that are open to the general public. I have played all five numerous times with varying degrees of success which included, I suppose, some monumental failures. In this column, I have chosen the most difficult holes from Seneca Hills, Loudon Meadows, Nature Trails, Clinton Heights and the Fostoria Country Club.

Which course has the toughest opening hole? Are there any difficult par 3’s? Which hole is the most difficult? Let’s take a look.

Hole #1: All five courses begin with par 4’s. They are all relatively easy though none is easier than the first at FCC. The bigger hitters may not use a driver here for fear of hitting their tee shot on to State Route 12. Not me — but some guys!

Be wary of the tee at Loudon Meadows as it does not face directly towards the green and pushing the ball right is a concern. The winner? The first at Nature Trails is at the top of my list and the trees are the reason. It is a lengthy hole with the premium being on placing the tee shot. Too far right and you are in the trees. Too far left and you are faced with going over some very tall trees.

Whereas the other courses give you a birdie opportunity, a par on No. 1 at Nature Trails is a good score.

Hole #2: Loudon Meadows and Seneca Hills will give you mid length par 3’s. Clinton and Nature Trails short par 4’s. That leaves Fostoria Country Club as the hole of choice. A lengthy tee shot must carry a creek on this par 4. Left and you have tree issues. Right and that pesky state route can come into play. You will have to hit a longish iron into a small green guarded by bunkers on each side.

Another hole where par is a good score.

Hole #3: Consideration was given to Clinton Heights for their third hole. There is a big dip between the tee box and the fairway you want to hit. Get on top of the hill and it is a relatively easy hole. Don’t make it up the hill and a long blind shot to a smallish green awaits you.

The winner though is Loudon’s par 5. Hitting to the corner before the fairway doglegs to the left is the first step. Getting as close to the creek (without going in) on the second will leave you with a short third. There is a field all along the right side of the fairway and out of bounds over the green. That creek I mentioned has swallowed up a few of my shots.

I have eagled the hole. No, I did not reach the green in two, only the biggest hitters can do that. Instead I holed out from 125 yards away. A few snowmen have graced my scorecard on this hole as well.

Hole #4: Clinton Heights — for one reason — the sloping green! This par 4 is short and a layup to avoid a small creek is in order. The difficulty on this hole is the green. It slopes severely from back to front and being above the hole will severely test your putting or chipping skills.

Loudon Meadows is tough too, but that green at Clinton…

Hole #5: Some competition here. FCC has a 200 yard par 3 that can play tough. Seneca Hill’s par 5 requires a shot over a large pond that can be daunting. But I’m going with Nature Trails on this one.

A par five that doglegs left and has enough trees to get your attention, I once watched a guy hook a 3-wood over the trees to inside the 200 yard marker. If you can do that, this is an easy hole. For the rest of us though … Playing ping pong with the trees can make the strokes add up.

Hole #6: Perhaps the easiest hole anywhere is the par 5 sixth at Nature Trails. A good tee shot will leave you with an 8 iron in, so this one makes you feel like you have messed it up if you get a par.

The sixth at Loudon Meadows is my choice. A creek must be crossed twice and may come into play if you go left of the green as well. A good drive can give you a shot at getting home in two, but I have seen snowmen on this hole too.

Hole #7: A breather awaits you here. All of the No. 7 holes are relatively easy. I’m going with Seneca Hills on this one and again the reason is the green. Cut off as much as you want on your drive following the creek down the left side, but the second shot is of paramount importance on this hole.

The green is narrow, elevated and crowned. Go long and your chipping game will be tested.

Hole #8: I’m going with the par 3 at Loudon. It can play at upwards of 200 yards and a bunker sits to the right of the green. Go too far right and you will be out of bounds. The green slopes from back to front so if you are above the hole…

Hole #9: The long par 4 ninth at Seneca Hills can be difficult. You start with a blind tee shot as you try to place your ball to the left of a tall tree. Get behind it and your second shot will be trying.

Even with a good drive, the second will require a long club from your bag — you know, unless you can pulverize the ball. The green is large and undulating. Reaching it in two does not guarantee a par.

So there you have it — the toughest holes from the front sides of our five local layouts. Next week we will give you a challenging look at the back nine holes.

Al Stephenson is The A-T golf columnist.

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