Scioto Country Club: Where Jack Nicklaus Learned to Golf
I couldn’t have been more excited to take off for my trip to….wait for it….OHIO.
While my midwest (is Ohio technically midwest?) travels have been relatively limited, Ohio is home to some of the best golf in the world – so to finally be able to plan a trip there was something I’d been waiting on for quite some time.
First stop on the trip? Scioto Country Club.
Scioto is probably most well known for being the childhood club of Jack Nicklaus, and is where he learned how to play golf. Throughout the round we were told stories about how he’d cut through some bushes, walk across the course and spend all day grinding on the range or playing.
He’d run back for dinner, and then come right back out afterwards.
Now that’s dedication.
More on the course in a second, but first there’s a precursor to our round I feel obligated to fill you in on…
Where Not to Eat in Ohio
Our trip started innocently enough with my friend Patrick and I asking the concierge at our hotel about a good brunch spot.
Not one, but two people there adamantly replied “Super Chefs”.
Alright, now that’s a recommendation I can get behind.
We walked the five minutes to the spot, and found a restaurant that themed their food around super heros.
I was planning to get a nice egg white omlete, when I made the mistake of asking the waiter if there was anything I had to get.
To which he replied, “If you’re from out of town and not coming back, then you HAVE to get The Hulk.”
It’s a waffle sandwich with cheese, egg, and sausage.
Oh, and it’s bright green.
Our meal showed up and I was able to make it about 1/3 of the way through before I couldn’t handle any more.
We went back to the hotel and prepared for our round – but remember this sandwich, it will make an appearance (literally) later on in our story.
Playing Scioto Country Club
We had a 2:40 tee time at Scioto and I couldn’t be more excited.
As mentioned, Scioto was the childhood home course of Jack Nicklaus, and has also been home to a number major events, including the 2016 US Senior Open.
It’s currently ranked #85 and #57 respectively on the Golf Magazine and Golf Digest American rankings, and #66 on my own favorite courses list.
We teed it up with an intern of the course, and a local member named DR who has been around for years, and was a very solid player.
He said “If you can get through the first 5 at better than 5 over – you’re doing pretty well!”
He wasn’t joking.
#2 is widely regarded as one of the best holes in the country, and is regularly featured on lists of “best holes”.
It’s a strong dogleg right that demands a precise tee shot, a precise layup, and excellent speed control on the greens.
Not exactly my idea of a warmup hole.
My impression of Scioto is that if you live in Columbus – THIS is the place you want to be a member. It’s the quinntessential country club.
World class golf course. Pool. Tennis. Beautiful clubhouse. And a very active social scene.
The course is set on a relatively small piece of land, but the routing is excellent and it never feels like you’re being lapped back and forth.
I particularly enjoyed the Par 5 8th. It gives you a number of options with how to play the hole depending on how aggressive you want to be.
Going for it in two will require a precise hybrid or wood over a greenside bunker, while avoiding the lake on the left. There’s bailout on the right for people who’d rather position themselves for a precise wedge play to get their birdie that way.
I drained a 35 footer on the short par 4 7th, and then had a tap in for birdie here. One of the few times in my life I’ve had them back to back.
We’ll talk about my new Mizuno wedges another day, but let’s just say, after this trip, I’m confident I made the right choice.
But back to that original story…you know, the one with the giant green sandwich?
The whole round my stomach was unsettled. I wasn’t feeling great, I didn’t sleep great, and it continued to get worse as the round progressed.
The surprising part of the story, however, is that I was playing excellent and actually was looking at a victory for the first time in probably 15 rounds against Mr. Koenig.
This all came to a head on the 15th hole. I was in for par, and he was going to have to drain a long birdie putt to avoid losing it.
Unfortunately, I was also on the verge of losing it.
I began running off the green after making my putt, turned to watch Patrick putt (because no matter how sick I was, I wasn’t going to miss my moment of victory).
He missed the putt, and I proceeded to run to the bathroom, and well, let’s just say that’s one sandwich I wasn’t happy to see again.
After about 5 minutes over the toilet, and another 5 minutes slumped down on the floor trying to comprehend what had just happened.
I got myself together, walked back to the tee, and striped one down the middle.
On 18 I found myself in the rough past the hole, with a very precarious chip in some of their notoriously thick rough.
With the finesse of a Mickelson flop shot, I floated it out and watched it trickle to 3 feet, where I promptly drained my par putt to shoot a surprising 79.
The course was a beautiful walk, full of strategic and challenging holes. It’s the kind of place that makes it’s members better golfers, and would be an excellent place to call home.
Overall Impressions of Scioto
Overall I was extremely impressed with Scioto. My general reaction was that if I lived in Columbus and had a family, this would be the place I’d want to be a member.
While Muirfield, The Golf Club, and from what I’ve heard Double Eagle, are all fantastic golf courses, they aren’t country clubs.
Everyone at Scioto we met was incredibly friendly, the clubhouse was packed, and there was an energy there that I really enjoyed.
The course is as good as I’d hoped for, and is a test of golf that will keep you coming back for more, no matter how punishing it is.