You may never make Elyria, Ohio a holiday or golf destination, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there. What you might do and this comes highly recommended, very highly actually, from both Myra and me is include it in your itinerary when going to a very cool city Cleveland, Ohio. If you are music and golf loving people like us, here’s what you do. Spend the whole day at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – incredible. Then get up the next day and make the very easy 30-minute drive to Valley of the Eagles Golf Course in the aforementioned Elyria.
The course is going through a transitional period with Nicklaus Golf Design having made major changes a number of years ago. The current ownership group is continuing to make major improvements resulting in one hell of a golf course. We both loved it. There are many facets to playing here including avoiding the Black River on 13 of the 18 holes. Large greens with a few subtle slopes challenge you once you get the flat stick out. The course is a fair course, good shots are rewarded poor ones punished and there are a number of really good holes for sure.
Some of the short par fours require disciplined club selection, the driver is definitely not needed on some of the doglegs. For me, my 3-hybrid set me up on 4 separate holes for very favorable approach shots with 8 and 9 irons.
There are plenty of choices on tee boxes for teeing off; 5 per hole. The greens are very puttable, have a look at the surrounding landscape to see which way the land rises, that will help you in dealing with the slopes.
Our day started with a warm welcome by Head Professional, Barry Friedman, who in between dealing with golfers at the till paying for their green fees gave me some valuable insight about the course.
2019 was the first true “full year” of operation under the new regime and third for Barry, a native Ohioan. There are no members per se, however, there are annual pass holders and that number is slowly on the rise. Due to a limited amount of land the practice facility is limited to a very functional practice green right next to the clubhouse. For those who want to warm up 5 indoor hitting bays are a few yards from the pro shop counter. On this day 2 guys opted to play indoor golf as two of the five bays have golf simulators. Slightly puzzling to me as outside was an 18-hole gem under warm sunny skies that they could have played.
It had been 3 weeks since Myra had played and just over a week for me, but we said to heck with the indoor option and after a few putts were raring to go. The star of the show on this day was the very affable and equally as thorough Starter/Marshal, Mike Garufi. Awaiting us up by the first tee, he explained some of the valuable bits of information you often hear from a skilled Starter. Tee off choices, yardage and distance markers, power cart procedure and for me the most beneficial news, putting the driver back in my bag even from the blue tees on hole number 1. This resulted in me parring the first hole, one of my goals playing a new course.
It did not take Myra and me long to see and enjoy this course. The location down on the valley floor made it very serene and peaceful and there was a stunning array of maple, oaks and poplar trees as well as a smattering of pines.
The fairway grass, as you can see in the picture of Myra hitting, was beautiful and lush. The tee box markers were large, local sourced boulders and the majority of the greens were huge and smooth and held any incoming shot. Due to a lengthy lay off, it took Myra a few holes to get her mojo but once she did she attacked the flag on back to back holes 8 and 9 from the fairway with high lofting shots to 8 and 10 feet. Much to her joy, Head Professional, Barry Friedman, praised Myra’s deft 60-yard sand wedge as we made a quick pit stop at the clubhouse after 9.
The pace on the course was swift, our round moved along without delay and it wasn’t until the Par 4 14th the signature hole that we caught the foursome in front of us.
This hole is unique with an island tee box and an island green. It was here my little dynamo got the one up on me literally making bogey after I plopped one in the water on my second shot for my only double bogey of the day.
Bunker play was rewarded with fluffy tan silica sand hosting your ball.
The team of greenskeepers under the guise of Superintendent John Gold and his Assistant Superintendent Sean Brennan were prevalent and productive. We watched a young greenskeeper operate a weed wacker with sheer precision and mastery on the 15th tee box.
The course is at the mercy of Mother Nature and the big picture is the challenge of over flowing river banks and debris strewn on greens and fairways during spring run-off. Amazingly today it looked like the course suffers from nothing, but falling autumn leaves. Hole 15 is a “no cart zone” right now as it has been completely reseeded and in time will also be lush to match some of the nicest fairways you can play from.
On this day the course name for me could have been called Valley of The Birdies, as I registered 2 beauties, one a 4 incher on 8 and the other a 25-footer on the Par 5 11th.
After thanking our host Barry Friedman and due to the fact we had played through lunchtime, we stopped on the patio for a cold drink and shared some very friendly banter with Starter Mike.
For those of you who follow my reviews you know the various types of rating I give out, this one gets my “we’d played it every day ” grade. So, book that trip to Cleveland and plan to include a round or two at Valley of the Eagles. Like us, hopefully you’ll soar.
(440) 365 -1411