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Taking our shot: The Blade ranks the best Toledo-area golf courses

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    Hole No. 7 on the Irish Course at Bedford Hills in Temperance is a par 3 with water ringing the green.

    BEDFORD HILLS GOLF CLUB

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    Two ponds are among the hazards golfers must avoid at Red Hawk Run, The Blade's No. 2-ranked public course in the area. The Arthur Hills design is located near Findlay.

    RED HAWK RUN GOLF CLUB

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    Water runs down the entire left edge of the 18th hole at Stone Ridge Golf Club in Bowling Green, The Blade's No. 1-rated public golf course.

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    The par-3 eighth hole at The Legacy features an island green, making the hole at the course in Ottawa Lake one of the most notable in the Toledo area.

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    Hole No. 6 at the Monroe Golf & Country Club, The Blade's No. 5-ranked public course, features heavy bunkering to the left.

    MONROE GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB

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    A golfer walks to his ball on the 13th hole of Carrington Golf Club, which checks in seventh on The Blade's list of area public courses.

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    A statue of Sylvanus P. Jermain, who helped found the Ottawa Park Golf Course in Toledo, welcomes golfers to the oldest public course in the area.

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    The ninth hole at Eagle's Landing features water down the right side and a waterfall as golfers head to the clubhouse.

    EAGLE'S LANDING

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    Heather Downs Country Club has opened to the public but is still one of the top-rated courses in the area.

    HEATHER DOWNS COUNTRY CLUB

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    Inverness Club has been rehabbing features across its course, including returning several holes to architect Donald Ross' original design. The 10th hole has large hummocks that are typical of the original architect.

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    Sylvania Country Club is noted as among the favorite designs of architect Willie Park, Jr. The third hole features heavy bunkering.

    SYLVANIA COUNTRY CLUB

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    Hole No. 18 at Belmont Country Club in Perrysburg features plenty of water for golfers headed to the finish.

    BELMONT COUNTRY CLUB

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    The par-5 ninth hole, which serves as the 18th during the LPGA Marathon Classic, at Highland Meadows was redone before last year's tournament.

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    The final three holes at Toledo Country Club run alongside the Maumee River, including No. 17, a downhill par 3 with picturesque views.

    TOLEDO COUNTRY CLUB

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    stoneridge cover listMike Maguire, of Toledo, puts at Stone Ridge Golf Club in Bowling Green, Ohio, on Monday, May 21, 2018. THE BLADE/KURT STEISS

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    List cover … InvernessNewsSlideInverness Club is rehabbing features across its course, including returning several holes to architect Donald Ross' original design. The multimillion dollar project is slated to be completed in the spring. Bunkers along the 18th green have been rehabbed. THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH

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    stoneridge cover listStone Ridge Golf Club in Bowling Green, Ohio, on Monday, May 21, 2018. THE BLADE/KURT STEISS

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With Old Man Winter banished and the spring hand of Mother Nature ceding her cold and rainy grip, golf season is here.

Which got us thinking.

You know, we haven’t gotten a bushel of angry letters lately.

And so we decided to reintroduce The Blade’s ranking of area golf courses.

With input from a dozen golf insiders, the idea was to put together a categorically ... subjective list of the top private and public courses in our coverage area, from the hallowed grounds of Inverness to the muni down the street.

There are no right answers, of course. Nor was there a set criteria, meaning we, along with each person consulted, placed different weight on varying factors: design, history, difficulty, setting, condition, and so on. When it comes down to it, you can have a great time playing every course in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. (OK, that’s not true, but that’s on your 7-iron, not the course.)

Beauty is in the eye of the ranker, and there exist many worthy and deserving choices.

But what’s more fun than a little debate?

We’d love to hear your feedback too. In the meantime, here goes. And remember, every time you shake your head, it was the experts’ fault, not your trusty list curators!

VIDEO: David Briggs and Kyle Rowland talk about the quality of Toledo golf

PUBLIC

No. 1: Stone Ridge Golf Club

Location: Bowling Green

Architect: Arthur Hills

Built: 1998

This 18-hole Arthur Hills design has been rated among the top 10 public golf courses in Ohio. It features 150 acres of rolling hills with stunning vistas that allow you to stare out across much of the course. From the longest tees, it stretches beyond 7,000 yards with a rating of 75.1 and a slope of 134, offering a stiff challenge for the long, modern-day golfer. But there are five sets of tees, which allows any player to choose the correct distance and have an enjoyable experience. Stone Ridge, the home of BGSU’s men’s and women’s golf teams, also has an impressive practice area and clubhouse.

No. 2: Red Hawk Run Golf Club

Location: Findlay

Architect: Arthur Hills

Built: 1998

Twenty miles south of Bowling Green sits Red Hawk Run, another Arthur Hills-designed gem. It can play as far as 7,400 yards, testing the longest hitters in today’s long-ball game. The course has several elevation changes that give players picturesque views and challenging shots, and the layout is fantastic, with fast, smooth bentgrass green complexes. Not to go unnoticed is the 8.5-acre practice area.

No. 3: Maumee Bay State Park Golf Course

Location: Oregon

Architect: Arthur Hills

Built: 1991

Nestled against Maumee Bay and Lake Erie, this golf course, part of the Ohio State Parks, is an outdoor paradise. The 1,850-acre tract of land includes wetlands and a Scottish-links style layout. An underrated feature is the wildlife, especially migrating birds in the spring. The Arthur Hills design — notice a trend? — used to be home to a U.S. Open local qualifier. One Ohio magazine deemed it one of state’s 100 must-play courses. It’s not Bandon Dunes, but if you play on a day when the wind is howling, it offers up a Scotland-like feel. And the 14th hole, a par 5 that plays beyond 500 yards from some teeing grounds, winds from tee-to-green with three separate water hazards. You better bring a dozen golf balls.

No. 4: The Legacy Golf Club

Location: Ottawa Lake

Architect: Arthur Hills

Built: 1997

Hey, look, another Arthur Hills course. The Legacy has perhaps the most unique and talked-about hole in the area, an island green on the par-3 No. 8, which plays 155 yards from the longest tees. It’s similar to the other Hills courses above it — a wide swath of land that’s generally open, allowing wind to be a factor. The Legacy is 200 acres with five bodies of water. You can count on course conditions to be superb and smooth putting surfaces. Narrow fairways and punishing — but fair — rough certainly raise the difficulty meter. It, too, has a great clubhouse and practice facility.

No. 5: Monroe Golf & Country Club

Location: Monroe

Architect: Donald Ross

Built: 1919

This Donald Ross design was private until new ownership took charge in 2016. It’s a classic parkland design with small greens and plenty of trees. A trivia tidbit: LPGA star Ariya Jutanugarn holds the course record, a 66 during the Women’s Western Amateur in 2012. The par-5 No. 9, which stretches beyond 500 yards, includes water down either side of the fairway and in front of the green, framing one of the best holes in the area.

No. 6: Bedford Hills Golf Club

Location: Temperance

Architect: Fred Berning

Built: 1993

The only facility on the list that includes 27 holes, Bedford Hills knows its clientele — the course’s three nines are called Buckeye, Wolverine, and Irish. Golfers don’t want a day at the beach, but if you hit in Bedford’s sand, you’ll have a great surface to hit out of. Course conditions have noticeably improved in recent years after Toledo-based Sunrise Golf took over operations. Bedford Hills provides one of the fairest tests of golf you’ll find in the area.

No. 7: Carrington Golf Club

Location: Monroe

Architect: Brian Huntley

Built: 1998

Carrington, the first of two outstanding Brian Huntley designs on the list, has terrific practice facilities and an 18-hole championship course to match. It requires strategic shots off the tee, the fairways are receptive to taking nice divots, and the greens are pure. And if you covet risk/​reward golf shots, you’ll get your fix here.

No. 8: Ottawa Park Golf Course

Location: Toledo

Architect: S.P. Jermain

Built: 1899

No public course in the area can rival Ottawa Park, the first public golf course west of New York. In 1922, it hosted the first U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. The municipal course, while short, still tests today’s golfers with its tree-lined fairways and well crafted greens. As you walk the course, you can feel its history.

No. 9: Eagle’s Landing Golf Club

Location: Oregon

Architect: Brian Huntley

Built: 1997

There aren’t many pieces of property in northwest Ohio better suited for a golf course than the plot where the aptly named Eagle’s Landing resides. It sits on the shores of Lake Erie, just west of Maumee Bay State Park. But don’t get lost in the views, there’s a challenging golf course in front of you. Almost 10 bodies of water and 70 bunkers greet enterprising golfers. Course conditions are not to be worried about, as Eagle’s Landing is in exemplary shape every year. It, too, has been named one of the 100 courses in Ohio you must play. And if your game needs some retooling — let’s be honest, whose doesn’t? — a driving range, practice green, and chipping area await you.

No. 10: Heather Downs Country Club

Location: Toledo

Architect: William Rockefeller

Built: 1925

The Great Recession claimed Heather Downs as a victim when the parkland course on Heatherdowns Boulevard opened its tee boxes to the public. The 140-acre property has tree-lined fairways and a great collection of par 3s. Even as a public daily fee course, it’s remained in solid condition, with putting greens that test even the best putter during the summer. The course nudges past honorable mention choices White Pines, Giant Oak, Riverby Hills, South Toledo, and Detwiler Park.

PRIVATE

No. 1: Inverness Club

Location: Toledo

Architect: Donald Ross

Built: 1903

You can count on one hand the courses that have hosted more U.S. Opens and PGA Championships than Inverness’ six: Oakmont (12), Baltusrol (nine), Oakland Hills (nine), and Southern Hills (seven). You also can count on one finger the clubs debated for our top spot. What can we say? With every step here you feel the outsized history of the place. Inverness truly is our Fenway Park — a classic American venue that has gotten better with age. Regularly rated among the top 100 courses in the world, the Dorr Street club just finished a heralded Andrew Green-led restoration — named the best of the year by Golfweek — that recast the course in the original vision of Donald Ross. (Yes, those old holes lost to the controversial Fazio redesign are back, including the famed dogleg par-4 seventh that Ted Ray birdied each day in winning the 1920 Open. That’s now No. 4.) Maxing out at 7,700 yards, the six-time major site could host another one if given the chance.

No. 2: Sylvania Country Club

Location: Sylvania

Architect: Willie Park, Jr.

Built: 1916

Park designed many fine courses, including four-time major host Olympia Fields outside Chicago. But the Scotsman and two-time British Open winner once called Sylvania Country Club one of his favorites. It is not hard to see why. Built on 160 acres along Ten Mile Creek, this sharply rolling, tree-lined course is a gem with no shortage of history of its own. This is where a 14-year-old Jack Nicklaus first met Arnold Palmer at the 1954 Ohio Amateur Championship, and where Byron Nelson won the 1940 Ohio Open.

No. 3: The Belmont Country Club

Location: Perrysburg

Architect: Arthur Hills

Built: 1968

Fifty years after this old dairy farm opened for business, Belmont remains as beautiful as ever. Just be sure to pack an extra sleeve of balls. The course is a treat for all, with six tee placements to accommodate varying skill levels. But if you’re looking for a serious challenge, our vote for the hardest layout in the non-Inverness division will not disappoint. A former host of a U.S. Open local qualifier, Belmont plays up to 6,918 yards and has big, fast greens and water everywhere.

No. 4: Highland Meadows Golf Club

Location: Sylvania

Architect: Sandy Alves

Built: 1925

No tennis courts? Fitness center? No problem. Highland Meadows has many of the standard accouterments, including a nice clubhouse and pool. But this is a golfer’s golf club. Home of the LPGA Tour’s Marathon Classic since 1989, this classic parkland course is fun, playable, and immaculately conditioned.

No. 5: Toledo Country Club

Location: Toledo

Architect: Willie Park, Jr.

Built: 1897

Stone Oak in Holland deserves mention too. In fact, if you’re a left-hander or have a natural draw, the well kept course — with five dogleg left holes — is your kind of place. But the race for the final spot here comes down to Catawba Island Club in Port Clinton and Toledo Country Club. Our panel was divided — Catawba has the better overall layout, Toledo the breathtaking home stretch — so the tie goes to the course inside city limits. Like with Sylvania Country Club, Park knew a good piece of land when he saw it. The oldest of the area’s private clubs finishes with three spectacular holes along the Maumee River.

Contact David Briggs at dbriggs@theblade.com419-724-6084, or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade.

Contact Kyle Rowland at krowland@theblade.com, 419-724-6110, or on Twitter @KyleRowland.

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